A report has found the government's entrepreneur visa scheme is excluding some of the best international talent from the UK.
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is designed to enable foreign entrepreneurs to come to the UK to start, extend or take over a business. It was launched in 2008 to promote Britain as a hub for the world's most talented and brightest entrepreneurs, and has since gone through several rule changes.
Migreat.com's report claims the scheme is still perceived as being difficult to obtain in comparison to similar initiatives in other countries, largely due to the growing administrative rigidity in the UK that has caused some talented entrepreneurs to fail the application.
Those that do want to apply for the scheme typically have to seek professional advice and assistance in order to qualify, the report also says.
Migreat's director of strategic partnerships, Josephine Goube, said: "The UK Government was a bold pioneer when it created a specific visa to ease the immigration of Entrepreneurs back in 2008.
"Unfortunately, in our research we found that in reality, the visa filters out exceptional international talents such as Seedcamp winners and entrepreneurs that raised more than £1 million start-up capital."
Business Secretary Vince Cable called the report "timely" and said the UK must do more to convince the world it is open for business.
"It's important that we get this route right to ensure that the next migrant business success stories, like Caffe Nero or Last.fm, don't slip through the UK's fingers," he said.
The report recommends four improvements that could be made to the scheme "easily, and at low cost":
- Returning passports more expediently to avoid the risk of applicants missing business opportunities;
- Increasing flexibility in the format of documents from Venture Capitalists and banks to reduce red tape;
- Tailoring rules on timing of the funding process to match the reality of young entrepreneurs and pre-revenue start-ups;
- Involving third parties, such as private and institutional investors, in the genuine entrepreneur test that is currently processed by caseworkers unfamiliar with entrepreneurial ventures.
Last December, the government said it was offering foreign start-ups £12,000 to the UK in a bid to attract some of the world's best entrepreneurial talent to the country.
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