The Home Office has placed new restrictions on the entrepreneur visa route in response to scams from individuals and organised criminal groups.
The entrepreneur route is intended to allow migrants to set up businesses in the UK in order to create jobs and growth. However, evidence from tax records shows that people on expiring student visas are transferring to entrepreneur status under the pretence of setting up a business when they are actually working in low-skilled jobs.
Entrepreneur route targeted after the closure of the post-study work visa route
Visa statistics suggests that individuals and organised criminals began to target the entrepreneur option once the post-study work visa, which allowed students to stay on after their studies, was axed in 2012.
We will take firm action to protect our immigration system
Immigration and Security Minister, James Brokenshire 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.
With the new clampdown students will only be able to switch using funds from a government-approved source, and post-study workers will need additional evidence of their business activities. In addition, those who have not yet started businesses and who do not have evidence of a genuine business will not be able to switch from the old post-study route onto an entrepreneur visa.