UK: MAC Proposals for Entrepreneurs

The Migration Advisory Committee was tasked earlier this year with proposing reforms for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category. The March 2015 report reveals that the current system, deemed to be massively flawed due to its susceptibility to abuse, is set to be overhauled with dramatic new measures designed to encourage innovation and drastically drive down volume.

Recommendations

Lower Threshold Funding

  • The substitution of personal funds and the approved sources regime of seed funding competitions and venture capital firms for the lower £50,000 threshold by third party endorsement. An endorsement would, however, render the genuineness test redundant.

  • The advent of a new highly selective “start up visa” based on the successful graduate entrepreneur mould. The applicant would not require a degree and again, the genuineness element would drop off.

Endorsement

  • The endorsement scheme is proposed to apply across the board and would greatly reduce administrative costs with the endorser as the decision maker, absorbing the cost of selection in exchange for an equity share in the business.

  •  An Expert panel instead of Home Office civil servants to assess genuineness and in particular, business plans. Panels would work in partnership with UKTI and BIS and assessment may also be outsourced to a professional business services firm with an initial triage assessment by caseworkers to filter out unmeritorious cases.

Interim Monitoring

  • The submission of yearly evidence of entrepreneurial activity under the generic entrepreneur route, not unlike filing annual tax returns, at the initial stage. 

  • The imposition of blanket sector restrictions, in addition to property development. A recommendation based on the requirement in Denmark for businesses to be scalable and potentially global, excluding restaurants, retail and import and export enterprises.

Streamlining

  • The extension of the 180 day absences limit in relation to qualifying for ILR to better reflect business needs.

  • A premium service to curb delays with passport retention and disruption to business travel.

The endorsement scheme was originally devised by the Canadian government and would play out rather like BBC”s Dragon”s Den with hopefuls pitching their business ideas for the opportunity to launch in the UK and a visa. Very few succeed.

Endorsement for a controlling hand in the business may also be enough for some would-be entrepreneurs who prefer to remain the sole owners of their business, to take their bright ideas elsewhere. Worse still is the fact that that the endorser, by virtue of their affiliation with the Home Office, will be a major stakeholder in the business and by consequence, an enforcer.

Endorsement will expand the Home Office”s enforcement network further, from banks, landlords and local authorities to the best in UK business. This may prove to be too much for some start-ups who will, inevitably, seek out less regulated shores.

For further guidance on how the changes might affect you, please contact us.

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