If you were to invent an immigration system from scratch, only a lunatic would come up with the bureaucratic mess we have in the UK.
Fortunately, new Home Secretary Sajid Javid is reversing some of the damage. First on his hit list was the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa, which will morph into a much-needed startup visa.
We didn’t always have it so bad (and I don’t just mean pre-World War 1, when passports and visas were rarely needed. The current system started rationally enough and easily enough for migrants to understand.
Between 2008 and 2010, the Labour government phased in a points-based system (PBS) for non-EU migrants. The system was based on assessing individuals’ income, education level and language skills, but eventually whole routes were shut and the process made purposely more complex to deter applications.
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route – which will be turned into a startup visa in Spring 2019 – was never fit for purpose. In the year ending March 2018, there were only 839 approved applicants from a cap of 2,000. The problem isn’t that graduates don’t want to become entrepreneurs – a survey we undertook with the NUS found that 42 per cent of international students want to start up their own business following graduation – it’s that too few universities encourage and support prospective entrepreneurs down this visa route.