On 12 September 2013, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration published a report on an inspection of applications for leave to enter and remain in the UK under the Tier 1 (investor) and Tier 1 (entrepreneur) categories of the points-based system.

This inspection examined the efficiency and effectiveness of the Home Office’s handling of entrepreneur and investor applications. It particularly concentrated on the consistency and quality of decisions. Section 4 of the report also contains a few pages of some interesting statistics on all Tier 1 applications made overseas and in-country. For example, only seven application were made seeking leave to remain under Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) between April and August 2012.

The Independent Chief Inspector found that necessary security and fraud checks were properly carried out. However, it was found that, in Sheffield, Tier 1 (investor) and Tier 1 (entrepreneur) applications were stored in crates in open plan offices overnight; since then, senior managers have agreed to store the files in lockable rooms with restricted access.

In regards to the reasonableness of decisions:

  • 42% of the cases were unable to be properly assed due to a lack of retained evidence and inadequate case notes;
  • in cases able to be assed, 91% of decisions on Tier 1 (investor) applications were reasonable; and
  • in cases able to be assed, only 62.5% of decisions on Tier 1 (entrepreneur) application were reasonable.

It was also discovered that overseas, the average decision time was seven-and-a-half days, whereas decisions took eight times longer (on average 63 days) in Sheffield. This may be in part be due to the fact that the number of Tier 1 (entrepreneur) applications awaiting a decision in the UK increased by 1,520% between February and December 2012. The Home Office reduced this figure to 700% in July 2013.

The report recommends that the Home Office ensures that:

  • the quality of its decision-making on Tier 1 (entrepreneur) applications is improved;
  • personal data is stored securely and in line with Data Protection Act requirements;
  • Appeal and Administrative Review outcomes are shared with caseworkers or entry clearance officers on a routine, consistent, and systematic basis;
  • its application intake forecasts better reflect the potential consequences of policy changes so that it can prevent a build-up of application; and
  • the reasons for its decisions on applications are properly evidenced and recorded.

The Home Office’s response the report can be found here.