Under the terms of a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules released on February 26th 2015, the criteria for Tier 1 entrepreneur visas were made more testing. Most conspicuously, as from April 6th 2015, anyone seeking to apply for or renew an existing visa is now obliged to satisfy a ‘genuineness test’ which may – at the discretion of the assessors – include a face-to-face interview.

The interview necessarily entails a degree of language competence but it also requires the applicant to make careful preparations in terms of making themselves thoroughly familiar with the specifics of their business operation and/or the detail of their business plan. Needless to say this entails a very strict conception of how a business should operate.

In other words, irrespective of the profitability and legitimacy of a particular business, applicants for Tier 1 investment must present themselves and their business in a way that satisfies the Home Office’s idea of how a business should be administered.

The implications of this were revealed in the recent appeal case R (on the application of Sabir & Ors) & Anor v The Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 264 (Admin) which drew attention to the criteria which Home Office officials insisted on as being necessary to the running of a modern business. Their insistence, for example, that a business must have a land line telephone number, revealed what has been described as arcane and bizarre notions of modern business practice. A further requirement insisting on the demonstration of marketing material bearing the business name and the names of the business owner was similarly idiosyncratic.

The case points to the requirement for applicants for Tier 1 entrepreneur visas to not only be able to show that their business is legitimate and viable, but to be familiar with the criteria that the Home Office use to validate those qualities. As the case highlighted here shows, the two may not be the same thing.