Government urged to improve visa system to boost enterprise

12 Mar 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The Government is being urged to follow the example of Canada and make it easier for entrepreneurs to obtain UK work permits.

The Canadian Start-Up Visa scheme has been likened to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa scheme in the UK. But whereas the UK version initially provides only temporary residence and working rights, Canada is offering permanent residence rights to people who want to start a business if they meet certain criteria. That includes being able to speak English or French, the ability to raise money for their enterprise and completion of at least one year at college.

Following Canada’s lead would pay dividends for the UK economy, because migrant communities tend to be more enterprising, The Independent reported. It pointed to a study by the Centre for Entrepreneurs which said that one in seven companies in the UK was set up by a migrant and found that migrants are more likely to set up their own business than someone born in the UK. The statistics showed that migrant-started firms employed 14 per cent of people working in the UK’s small and medium sized business sector.

There are a number of initiatives being run by the UK Government to encourage overseas entrepreneurs, but there are also concerns that anti-immigration attitudes from Westminster may also put off people considering the UK as a business base. Current schemes include the UK Trade & Investment-run Sirius Programme, which can provide funds for successful applicants who want to start a business in the UK. It is open to overseas graduates and puts them in touch with business accelerator units around Britain.