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UK immigration laws favour investors over innovators, report finds

Sam Shead | May 28, 2015
Tech entrepreneurs looking to relocate to the UK must already have £200,000 of investment in their company.

UK immigration laws favour wealthy investors over forward-thinking tech innovators, according to a report out today from visa website Migreat.

Strict entrepreneur visa policies in the UK make it difficult for some of the best overseas tech innovators to migrate to the country, according to the Open Borders to Entrepreneurs report, which compares the policies of countries around the world that have created startup visas in an effort to attract entrepreneurs.

While the UK has done well to be one of only 12 countries globally to introduce startup visas, the report suggests that UK visas are too bureaucratic and expensive, costing approximately £1,000 per application.

A total of 5,576 entrepreneur visas were granted by the UK government between June 2013 and June 2014 but Josephine Goube, head of partnerships at Migreat, told Techworld that this figure should be higher.

"It's far easier for rich investors to get visas than it is for entrepreneurs," adding that the strict entrepreneur visa is little more than a "PR-exercise to say we're welcoming the best and brightest."

Entrepreneurs looking to relocate to the UK must already have £200,000 of initial investment in their company, which isn't always easy when the company is at the start of its lifecycle.

The investor visa states that individuals should be willing to invest upwards of £2 million in UK companies but beyond this there aren't many other criteria to meet.

"If you have money you can get in," said Goube. "The investor visa is the only visa where you don't need to speak English, which tells you something. If you go for the investor visa and you have lots of money the paperwork is less."

The top five countries from where non-EU entrepreneurs are coming to the UK in 2013 were Pakistan, India, China, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

Migreat CEO Daniel Lizio-Katzen: "Immigrants start new businesses at a higher rate than native born populations in every country they enter.

"Governments that are lucky enough to count their countries as destinations for the world's immigrants should do everything in their power to facilitate entrepreneurship by reducing red tape and capital barriers."

According to a report from Duedil & CFE , one out of seven business owners in the UK is a migrant.

Migreat aims to facilitate migration by providing migrants with accurate, clear and understandable information around immigration.

 

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