UK visa problems see international entrepreneurs 'shun Britain'

12 Dec 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK's ongoing quest to attract the best and brightest to live and work within its borders has been hampered by “impossible visa restrictions”, a new study has suggested.

Compiled by the National Union of Students, the research found that of the 1,600 international graduate students it polled, 42 per cent wanted to set up a business after graduation, but just 33 per cent wanted to do so in the UK.

The report, entitled Made in the UK: Unlocking the Door to International Entrepreneurs, and written in partnership with The Entrepreneurs Network thinktank, found that UK visa restrictions were largely to blame for the lack of interest in starting a company in the UK.

It's the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, which was established in April 2012, that has caused much of the problems. Just 119 were granted in the scheme's first year and it appears that there is still a general perception among overseas students that it is too difficult to acquire and therefore not worth applying for. In fact just two per cent of respondents who said they intend to start a business post-graduation confirmed that they actually applied for the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.

Shreya Paudel, international students' officer at the NUS, spoke to the Times Higher Education supplement regarding the matter: “It’s once again saddening to see more research which shows that many international students feel unwelcome in the UK as a result of the government’s hostile and overzealous policies.”

He added: “Instead, many graduates are put off from starting businesses here because of impossible visa restrictions that place them in Catch-22 situations. It’s absolutely ludicrous to shut out a whole group of people who want to contribute to this country’s economy just to meet a political agenda.”