London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is proposing a UK visa for Indian students so that they can work for up to two years after graduating from a UK university. His proposed work visa would first be rolled out to Indian students, and possibility later to other citizens of the Commonwealth, also potentially allowing them to work for two years in the UK after finishing their degree.
The number of Indian students traveling to the UK to study as international students has fallen by 50% over the last three years. Indian Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, during his last visit to London, raised the issue of student visas to British Prime Minister David Cameron; reminding him that Indian students are among the best and the brightest in the world.
In the report published on Thursday the 29th of October, the government’s immigration experts have called for an overhaul of the visa system for entrepreneurs after finding substantial evidence of low-quality businesses established by applicants previously granted the visa.
The MAC advised that there should be a more thought-out process for the immigration of foreign entrepreneurs and suggested two main reforms
The selection process should involve industry experts rather than case workers. It could be done by appointing a panel of experts with expertise in early-stage entrepreneurship, such as angel investors or venture capitalists; recruiting specialist immigration officers qualified to review business plans; working with other government departments such as UKTI or BIS; or outsourcing the assessment of business plans to a professional services firm.
The minimum amount and source of money should include business angels. In particular, the Home Office could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates (like accelerator programmes) to provide third party endorsement.
These recommendations are the exact same suggestions Migreat made last March 2014 to the UK Government in its report on the UK Entrepreneur visa.
Migreat is delighted to see its recommendations reflected in the MAC report and strongly believes that these recommendations will make a difference for many talented applicants who have been rejected for issues as minor as improperly filling out forms. It is great news in particular for foreign entrepreneurs with limited access to capital and for early stage startups.
Child’s application for entry clearance will be refused where the Secretary of State considers that the sponsor or the sponsor’s partner poses a risk to the child.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) of the Points Based System
Criteria through which Tech City UK endorses Exceptional Talent applicants has been amended to better reflect the skills and experience of target applicants who are most likely to add value to the UK digital technology sector.
Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points Based System
Four jobs in the digital technology sector (product manager, data scientist, senior developer and cyber security specialist) are being added to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), alongside nursing
Clarification of the charity worker rules for sponsors and applicants.
Setting the annual allocation of places available under the Youth Mobility Scheme for 2016.
Minor amendments to the list of Government Authorised Exchange Schemes.
Israel launches a startup visa programme to simplify immigration for foreign tech entrepreneurs and investors.
Visas to bring more innovators to Israel
Called ‘Innovation Visas for Foreign Entrepreneurs’, the visa scheme will grant 2 year visas to foreign entrepreneurs, investors and foreign professional who can show that their tech business, startup or company will economically contribute to the prosperity of Israel.
A first batch of close to 50 so-called “innovation visas” will be granted soon. Twelve established companies will be the first beneficiaries of the visas for foreign professionals. Meanwhile, the program expands to allow visa holders the ability to set up new firms later.
Cumbersome process? However, reading through the details, the manner in which the Israeli government is awarding the visa sounds a little obscure and cumbersome:
“An open call will be put out to Israeli companies to apply to use the visas for its future workers. Then, only 12 companies will be selected both by the Immigration Authority and the Office of the Chief Scientist. At that point, there will then be an open call to American companies who wish to set up shop in Israel to apply for the visas. There is no indication how many visas will be allocated per company.”
Despite recent strides, it’s generally accepted that Europe’s entrepreneurs have a long way to go before they can compete on equal footing with Silicon Valley’s founders. However, the US has been gradually losing foreign entrepreneurs to other countries.
In this regard, I argue in an article for Tech.eu today that Europe would set itself apart by implementing a Europe-wide Startup Visa scheme for founders.
An overarching European Startup Visa scheme would create the necessary synergies to make up for the fragmentation found between competing national schemes and could propel Europe forward as the new Mecca for global entrepreneurs.
At Migreat, we keep an eye on immigration news, government announcements and the hard data backing these information up.
This week, we came across an interesting report from Transparency International UK that tell us what we at Migreat have argued for a while now: the UK immigration system favours wealthy immigrants – and it does it at a high costs for society.
Red Carpet for Investors
The UK immigration rules are tough for low-skilled migrants and international students but when it comes to investors, rules are much more relaxed.
The UK Investor Visa
Since 2008, the UK investor visa allows non-EU wealthy nationals to live and work in the UK if the bring an investment of at least £2 million in a UK bank account. This visa is the only UK Visa for which applicants do not have to prove to be able to speak appropriate English to be granted the right to come live in the UK.
Furthermore, the more money is brought to the UK, the faster and easier it is for the investor and its family to be granted leave to remain and apply for a British Passport. If an applicant shows £5 million, he/she can get the right to apply for permanent resident after 3 years in the country. If the applicant shows to be bringing £10 million then the time to apply for permanent residence is reduced to 2 years.
Corrupt Wealth getting unchecked
According to Transparency International UK, £1.88bn of Chinese and Russian private investment has been channelled into the UK through this golden investor visa scheme since 2008 and this was done without adequate and essential money laundering checks on these investments.
The report details how due diligence was not operated due to “blind faith”.
Before April 2015, the visa was granted before the money was transferred in the UK – meaning that the source of the money was NOT checked by UK banks prior the granting of the Visa. UK banks used the fact that the individual were granted a UK investor visa as a qualifying evidence to overcome due diligence concerns when assessing the individual’s legitimacy.
Before September 2015, no criminal background checks was done by the Government against applicants under the scheme
Since the implementation of a check for criminal record and the obligation for the money to be transferred to the UK (and so checked by banks following strict due diligence work) the amount of applicants have sharply dropped. (see below)
So no only, corrupt individuals have been attracted to an investor visa in order to achieve residency in the UK but, it has been also an attractive tool to help circumvent a bank’s due diligence checks.
The Immigration bill has passed it’s second reading in the House of Commons and is now being sent to a Public Bill Committee. It received 323 votes to 274 with considerable opposition from Labour, Lib Dem and SNP MPs.
Speaking of the large number of immigration changes that have been made since Theresa May has become Home Secretary they argued that it will not reduce illegal immigration and will damage social cohesion.
Who it will affect and why
Those who are found working illegally in England and Wales could face up to six months in jail. The police would be able to seize wages as ‘proceeds of crime’.
Public sector jobs will require fluent English language or else will be barred by public authorities.
The jail sentence for employers found guilty will be raised from 2 years to 5 years in addition to fines in place.
In addition, the UK will introduce an immigration skills charge for employers who preferentially employ skilled migrants from abroad. This visa levy on businesses was created to further enforce the British Labour Resident Market Test. This test ensures that any migrant hired in the UK is not taking the job of a UK resident by imposing the business to advertise the job position for 28 days in the UK on listed local websites before being able to offer the job to a non-EU migrant.
All immigration appeals and judicial reviews are subject to deport first, appeal later measures with the right to private and family life appeals included. This means migrants can face removal from the UK despite an outstanding appeal to their case. This process is likely to be practically difficult and will separate families.
May in her speech at the Conservative Party Conference argued ‘Students, yes; over-stayers, no. universities must make this happen.’
Those students found working when a person ‘has no leave’ or when work or a specific type of work is not allowed will be liable to imprisonment and/or a fine as well as in many cases, immigration sanctions.
On October 1st and 2nd, leaders in the Tech Community gathered in London to brainstorm about what mobile and web technologies could be created that could help refugees find new homes and begin their new lives in Europe. Migreat was there, to present a prototype of an immigration assistant aimed at refugees and to participate in the effort. Here’s a recap of the intense two days and some of the main ideas that came out of the event.
Over two days, a group of 300 software developers, tech enthusiasts, NGOs and institutions like the UNHCR discussed, demonstrated and started building technologies that have the potential to do things like save lives at sea and help refugees navigate the EU geography and immigration systems.
Migreat presented and demo’d its immigration wizard and community platform that serves over two million migrants in Europe today.
We were impressed by What3words mapping technology, inspired by Marieme Jamme speaking as a refugee herself (and who is now a successful entrepreneur) and left energized by the UNHCR’s visionary talk.
The first day demonstrated how complex the crisis is and moved Ed Saperia to write on the hackpad the day after “A lot of people are building a lot of things all across the world, much of which is duplicated or never makes it to deployment. So (..) have a look at other things people are doing” before building something yourself, Ed advised.
At the hack, the atmosphere was definitely more collaborative than competitive. Teams of volunteer software developers were split amongst small tables and given a common online hackpad with information from the previous day. Some people roamed the room to exchange information on what each table’s project was on and to connect similar/complimentary projects.
We met a group building an online platform to connect refugee families to local UK host families – and it made us want to share our experience developed while building local online communities with Migreat.
We discussed with the Hack Humanity group the possibility of building an algorithm of probability of refugee applications approval.
The event brought food for thoughts for Migreat team who proudly presented an immigration wizard for refugees at the end of the night (above).
Outcome & the future of Techfugees Serving as a platform to connect concerned individuals and organisations, the event successfully showed how the UK tech community can collaborate and work towards solutions to what looks to be one of EU’s most pressing issues.
The event enabled the creation of a crowd-sourced map of organisations, and connections between them. The hackpad is still being updated with new events everyday since the event earlier this month and has started an online exchange of information between people building similar projects at the European level.
One of the essential goal of the Techfugees, says Mike Butcher is to build a “Minimum Viable Product” which in the language of the tech community means to see working prototypes and solutions emerging in the next months. For our part, Migreat is looking forward to launching our refugee immigration wizard 🙂
Gary Stewart @garystew – Moderating panel
Gi Fernando – Founders for Good – @gifernando
Kieron Kirkland – CAST – @kieronkirkland
Paul Miller – Bethnal Green Ventures – @rellimluap
Damian Peachey – BBVA – damian.peachey @ bbva.com Debu Parkayastha – Mercy Corps – @MercyCorps_UK
Sadaf Ahmed – Musafir Collective – @Musafir_Kitchen 4:45:00 – Marianne Bouchart – Data Journalism & The Refugee Crisis – Hei-Da – @Maid_Marianne
The Immigration Bill 2015 being proposed by Government and presented to Parliament is now available to view.
It lays out the expansion of powers to a large number of immigration officials and makes it easier to remove people. It includes a crackdown on illegal immigration, removing protections of migrant workers and affects UK bank accounts, driving licences and rental accommodations.
There is a a second reading of the bill scheduled for the 13th of October where it will be debated in the House of Commons. Here are the main ways in which the bill may affect you:
Charges on Tier 2 Sponsorship
This would allow the Home Office to impose an immigration skills charge on sponsors of Tier 2 non-EEA nationals. This visa levy on businesses using foreign labour is being considered during the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) review of Tier 2 visas. Until the MAC has fully advised government, the amount of the charge is not known, however it is believed a charge will be added in some form.
Language Requirements Public sector workers will be required to speak, read and write fluent English or will be barred from public sector jobs. This includes migrant workers that have roles in local authorities, health and education. Details of how these skills will be tested are currently unknown, but a code of practice for employers will also be published.
Deport First Appeal Later
The ‘deport first, appeal later’ provision will be extended to all immigration appeals and judicial reviews. This means not only non-human rights cases, but human rights cases as well.
The bill forces banks to check current accounts against migrant databases. Banks will have to notify the Home Office if checks confirm the account holder no longer has permission to remain in the UK. This could lead to the freezing or closure of accounts. This is particularly worrying as many cannot produce satisfactory evidence of their right to remain in the UK which could lead to many being closed mistakenly.
Residency and Renting
The immigration bill introduces a criminal charge of imprisonment for up to five years and a fine for landlords letting out property to a migrant without a ‘right to rent’. This policy can sometimes encourage discrimination for those with foreign sounding names or appearance.
Under the bill, it will be a criminal offence to ‘drive whilst an illegal immigrant’. This includes a criminal sentence of up to 51 weeks and/or a fine. When investigating illegal migration, police are able to seize driving licences. This means it is even more likely, as an ethnic minority, that you will be stopped by the police whilst driving.
Illegal Workers and Employment
Immigration officials can close down businesses, seize earnings and have right to enter and search properties and seize them too. The focus would be on small businesses such as the ability to close off-licences and takeaways. These small businesses and employers are often unable to keep abreast of changes to complex immigration rules and processes. If found to be employing illegal migrants, employers can receive a maximum criminal penalty which will be changed from two to five years. Illegal migrants could get a sentence of up to 51 weeks including a fine.
For the latest immigration, visa and migration news, follow @migreat on twitter.