The government’s doubling of the funding level required for an investment visa (from £1million to £2 million) has been conspicuously successful in reducing migrant numbers, but high net worth individuals are increasingly bypassing the bill in favour of a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa.

Scope for entrepreneurial approach

Figures released by the office of national statistics show a 72% decline in the number of investment visas between the first quarter of 2015 and the same period in 2014 and an 82% reduction through the second quarter. Just 58 investment visas were granted in Q1 2015, and a mere 44 in Q2, between April and June. The figures equate to an £88 million reduction in revenues to the UK over the past 12 months. Previously, the UK had established a status as the world’s leading destination for HNW migrants.

With the financial commitment for a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa set at £200,000 there is ample scope for those who might have considered the investment route to develop a proposition capable of meeting the criteria for a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa.

Historical overspill

The ‘overspill’ into the entrepreneur visa application route has already been seen in the case of the closure of the post study (Tier 4) route. Home Office staff explicitly attributed a huge increase in applications for the Tier 1 entrepreneur visa to a tightening up of Post Study criteria. Subsequently, visa data for the year ending June 2014 showed that such applications were subject to a 49% rejection rate.

Even though the tests for the ‘genuineness’ of tier 1 entrepreneur visas were made more demanding in 2014, a well prepared business plan constitutes a considerably more viable option than the £2 million required for an investment visa.