We recently gave a presentation on Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visas which caused us to look at some statistics published by Home Office. You can see the statistics here (its worth looking at the raw data tables). We produced a variety of graphs from the available data, but one interesting result was the grant/ refusal rate for in-country Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications.
Here is the graph :
It reveals a few things, firstly the massive surge in applications under this route, which can be attributed to the closing of the Post-Study work route and perhaps Tier 1 (General). Also revealing is the comparative dominance of refusals versus grants. Its not possible to differentiate, as far as we can tell, those refusals which are linked to applicants who are relying on the £50,000 rules and switching from a Post-Study work visa. We suspect however, given the complexity of that part of Appendix A and the far greater need for evidence that this type of application will form the majority of these refusals. It is also reflective of the 'dead-end' which individuals under Post Study work who become self-employed will find themselves in at the end of that visa. Tier 1 Entrepreneur is likely their only route to remain.
It is also likely illustrative of the increasing reliance by the Home Office on the 'Genuine Entrepreneur Test' now incorporated into the rules (but with voluminous guidance). This test is often used by decision makers to justify a refusal, and we have seen many examples. Often however, the decisions are based on extremely unreasonable criticism of an applicant's lack of knowledge of a specific technical area. For example applicants not understanding the finer points of an accounting issue despite having a decent business plan with genuine aspirations and talent (isn't that why you employ a professional accountant?).
It certainly demonstrates the impact of closing immigration routes. However remember also our previous post on a recent case that found the Upper Tribunal interpreting the rules quite differently from the Home Office. We wonder how many refusals were based on that flawed interpretation. It is perhaps also bearing in mind the comments of John Vine, The Independent Inspector of Borders and Immigration. In his report on case-working within Tier 1 Entrepreneur/ Investor decision making teams he had this to say:
“I was unable to assess the reasonableness of the decisions made in 42% of the cases in my sample due to a lack of retained evidence and inadequate case notes.
This is unacceptable. The Home Office must ensure that decisions on applications are properly evidenced and recorded.
Where I was able to assess decisions, I found that 91% of decisions on investor applications were reasonable. However, this fell to 62.5% for entrepreneur applications.”
The report is at pains to point out that unreasonable decisions can also mean legally unsustainable grants of leave, but given the statistics above, what is more likely to predominate? Unreasonable refusals or unreasonable grants?