Is the UK Open for Business?

At the time of writing the UK Government’s ‘new’ style of Entrepreneur Visas, the “Start Up Visa” and the “Innovator Visa” are into their eighth month of operation and the feedback and stories we are receiving and hearing from both front-line immigration practitioners and end user clients is that no-one really has a handle on what is actually going on. Not least, the Endorsing Bodies required to write an endorsement letter for each applicant.

The news dropped a month ago of the woeful numbers associated with these new visas and despite the best efforts of the Home Office to flannel it, the results are stark, as shown in the table below.

The figures speak for themselves. It is no joke that these changes came into effect on April 1st – to coincide with what was supposed to be the day of Brexit (well, one of them).

A recent article by Robert Wright of the Financial Times provides some useful insight from our friends over at world-leading law firm Fragomen.

But what is really happening here? How did it transpire that no-one in the industry really knew that these changes were going to come into effect, despite knowing ‘something’ might be changing? Was pending Brexit really the reason these changes were rushed through? Why were industry practitioners not consulted on the efficacy of the changes? Whose decision was it to allow the selected Endorsing Bodies to essentially close their doors for 6 months and say “we’re not prepared for this,”? How did we get into this position?

More pertinent than all of the above: what steps are being taken to get the doors to UK business immigration steadfastly and unequivocally back open?