The Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules published on 26 February 2015 introduced a number of changes that will affect Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrants.
The most significant change to note is the expansion of the 'genuine entrepreneur' requirements to people already on the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.
With effect from 6 April 2015, all applicants seeking to renew their existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas will, in addition to the standard requirements in respect of job creation and investment, also have to satisfy an Immigration Officer that they are a genuine entrepreneur. This requirement is being rolled out for both extension and settlement applications under this route, and is, according to the Home Office's explanatory memorandum, intended 'to better protect the route against abuse without disadvantaging genuine applicants.'
This provides an opportunity for the Home Office to invite an applicant to interview about their business. In effect, it also provides the Home Office an opportunity to refuse an applicant who on the face of it appears to meet all of the requirements of the rules, but fails to perform well at interview.
The subjective nature of the genuine entrepreneur assessment does cause some concern given that the only remedy available to an applicant faced with a refusal of their application will now be to seek Administrative Review of the decision through the Home Office's own internal mechanisms, rather than being able to appeal against the decision at an independent tribunal.
It is therefore critical that any applicant seeking to extend their leave in this category is properly prepared and includes sufficient evidence with their application to establish that they are a genuine entrepreneur.
In terms of changes affecting initial applicants, the biggest change is the introduction of a mandatory requirement for the applicant to provide a business plan. This is not a dramatic change however, as the rules already encouraged the inclusion of a business plan, albeit it was not mandatory, and good practice would dictate that a carefully prepared and detailed business plan should always be provided with such an application.
The changes come in to effect on 6 April 2015. Transitional provisions are in place so that all applications made prior to that date are continued to be assessed under the previous rules. A full list of changes can be found here.