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Home Office brags about success of entrepreneur visa it abolished a year ago


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Check out this hilarious bit of spin in the Home Office’s “factsheet” on yesterday’s immigration statistics:

…the UK continues to be a desirable location for the brightest and best around the world…

The number of highly skilled visas issued [in 2019] has increased by 7% to 5,664.

The majority of these (59%) were to entrepreneurs, coming to start businesses in the UK

It is true that 5,664 Tier 1 visas were issued in the calendar year 2019 (if you include dependants and not just main applicants). Of those, 3,342 (59%) were granted in the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category. 

That’s right: the Home Office is lauding the success of a visa that it abolished in March 2019. Most of the 3,342 Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas issued in 2019 came after the route closed to new applicants, the result of applications filed before 29 March 2019 still making their way through the system.

The direct replacement for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) was the Innovator visa. It was, by the Home Office’s own admission, designed to reduce the number of overseas entrepreneurs getting UK visas. In that noble aim the department has admirably succeeded: the chart below shows how the combined number of entrepreneur-type visa applications has fallen off a cliff after Innovator (in blue) replaced Entrepreneur (in brown).


Put another way: in the last quarter of 2018, the Home Office issued 894 Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas, including dependants. In the last quarter of 2019, it granted just 66 Innovator visas.

Now read: Visa options for overseas entrepreneurs setting up a UK business.

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CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney

CJ McKinney is a specialist on immigration law and policy. Formerly the editor of Free Movement, you will find a lot of articles by CJ here on this website! Twitter: @mckinneytweets.