New Visas Still Struggling

With scant warning and very nearly no consultation with lead industry stakeholders, the Home Office launched the Innovator and Start-up visas in April 2019 aimed at “experienced business people” with an “innovative, viable and scalable business idea”.

The Immigration Statistics for Q3 of 2019 have now been released by the Home Office, albeit in a confusingly different format from the previous, but if you persevere, you can locate the numbers that those in our business sphere are interested in. One useful aspect of the new format for the stats is that you are able to manipulate the more detailed versions in a Pivot Table, allowing for more granular analysis of the figures. All that said, take a look for yourself.

In the first six months operation of the replacement to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, a total of 14 applications have been made. Compared to almost 1000 T1 Entrepreneur applications during the same period in 2018. The disparity is almost incomprehensible. Also, it is noteworthy that what must have been a huge backlog of ‘rushed’ T1-Entrepreneur applications are also still being processed.

Bearing in mind that the above table discloses visa applications and not granted visas, we know the historic rate of T1-Ent visa applications being granted had been generally on the rise from around 50% to 60%, so we can assume the reality to have that percentage applied to the figures below. Irrespective of that point, the extrapolated figures are still astonishing.

Each of those 1000 T1-Ent visa applications (almost always) had attached to them a £200,000 minimum investment level to run a new, or existing business, which is £200M of potential UK business investment effectively lost in this 6 month period in 2019. That doesn’t include the amount of money being spent in the UK by these potential applicants as they prepare and submit their applications and requisite documents working often with multiple professional service practitioners in the immigration law, advice and services industries. Possibly more worrying, in our experience, the average number of UK job opportunities associated with each T1-Ent visa application averaged at around 5 employment opportunities per business: 5,000 potential jobs. Gone. In six months.

Deputy Editor of online magazine Free Movement, C J McKinney has posted up this short critique.

The question is – is anyone in the Home Office listening?