The Home Office has confirmed it is to tighten the rules on professionals applying for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visas to the UK after discovering a scam led by organised gangs.
Those successful in applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa – who boast financial backing and a sound, approved business plan – have the right to remain in the UK to work as an entrepreneur.
The closure of the post-study work visa route, which enabled international students to live and work in the UK upon completion of their studies, has seen the Home Office receive a soaring number of applications for the Entrepreneur Visa from former students.
Applications skyrocketed from 118 in 2009 to almost 10,000 in 2013, with the Government concerned the visa is increasingly being viewed as a route to low-skilled work for migrants.
There is also concern that criminal gangs have temporarily lent international students money in order to demonstrate to the Home Office they have the necessary financial backing (£500,000) in order to obtain an Entrepreneur Visa.
Applicants will now be required to demonstrate their funding comes from an approved source, which will include schemes endorsed by UKTI and other Government schemes offering funding for the explicit purpose of starting or expanding a business.
Students will no longer be allowed to use venture capital funding to support their application.
Those who are applying for an Entrepreneur Visa from outside the UK or from other work visas will be unaffected by the ruling changes, with a transitional period for those who have already started their business.
James Brokenshire, immigration and security minister, said: “This government is building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system and flout the law.
“Our reforms have cut net non-EU migration to levels not seen since the 1990s and slashed overall net migration by a third since its peak under the last government.
“And we will not hesitate to take firm action to protect our immigration system further – particularly when there is evidence of criminals targeting what they think are weaknesses in the rules.”
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