In this week’s article, we talk to Andrew Smith, Managing Director and founder of Albany Investment. Andrew has recently provided submissions to Professor Sir David Metcalf’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) Review of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur Routes.

Andrew, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today.  In your experience, what are the main reasons entrepreneur and investor visas applications fail?

“Many Entrepreneur applications fail because the applicants are not genuine entrepreneurs.  Let me explain.  The objective of the scheme is to attract not only investment into the UK enterprise economy, but also their talent and endeavour as well. Genuine entrepreneurs will be able to benefit the UK economy, not only through their investment, but through enabling access to new overseas markets for UK businesses, creating employment opportunities, both in the UK and the applicant’s home country,  enabling technology transfer both into and out of the UK.

Another reason for failure is applicants sometimes misrepresent or omit vital information, such as the amount of investment funds they have access to, where those funds have come from and what they plan to do with them once they enter the UK.  My advice is to make the applications as factually accurate and as detailed as possible. , UK Visas and Immigration are refusing ofver 50% of Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas globally.”

With the UK Border Agency scrutinising business plans more closely, what is your advice on getting these right?

“When it comes to business plans, do not enter into a ‘race to the bottom’.  Take the time to construct a proper, legitimate, well-thought-out plan and take advice from both financial and legal professionals when drafting it.  Remember the old saying, ‘buy cheap and buy twice’.  Do not engage one of the many companies who offer to create business plans at a low-cost, these are often copied from the internet and immigration officials are trained to spot them a mile away.”

In your opinion, is it a good time to invest or start-up a business in the UK?

“This is an excellent time to be investing in the UK market. The Gross Domestic Product in the United Kingdom expanded 2.30 percent in the third quarter of 2015 over the same quarter of the previous year, according to the ONS. The United Kingdom is the sixth largest economy in the world and the third largest in Europe after Germany and France. It is the biggest financial center in Europe and services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, account for more than 75 percent of total GDP. Not only that, the political climate is extremely stable, security is currently less of an issue than it is in some other countries in Europe, and entrepreneurs have access to a highly-educated and dynamic workforce.

The financial rules surrounding the investment of funds for investor visas is very complex, could you please explain them?

“For an initial investor visa application to succeed, you will need to show that:

You have funds amounting to at least £2 million belonging to yourself, your partner or the two of you jointly;

The money is held in a regulated financial institution, such as a bank, building society, credit union, stock brokerage or asset management firm; and

The money is disposable in the UK; and

You have opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purpose of investing not less than £2 million in the UK.

If your investment funds have been held for a consecutive 90-day period prior to the date of application, then you will not be required to prove the source of funds. However, you will need to demonstrate that the funds are genuinely yours, that you are free to invest them and that they have been acquired lawfully.

If your investment funds have not been held for a consecutive 90-day period prior to the date of application, then you will need to prove the source of the funds. For example, the source of funds could be a gift, a sale of property, a will, a divorce settlement, a prize-winning or other source(s).

Where the funds have been provided by a third party, you will need to show that there is nothing about the character, conduct or associations of that person that would mean granting your application would not be conducive to the public good.”

If investors and entrepreneurs want to bring their families to the UK, are there any agencies who could assist them in finding accommodation, schools, etc?

“Absolutely, there is now a whole industry built around helping Tier One Entrepreneur and Investor visa holders set up their lives in the UK.  Cash-rich/time poor individuals will find there are companies that will organise schools, entertainment, booking holidays and finding property, etc.”

Andrew Smith is Managing Director and founder of Albany Investment with a focus on Foreign Direct Investment into the UK, concentrating mainly on renewable energy, SMEs, infrastructure and corporate investment. 

Before founding Albany Investment Andrew was a Director at Invest UK for the 2 years and worked in the Private Equity sector prior to that. Andrew’s leadership skills come from a dynamic career in the British Army where he served in the Parachute Regiment operationally in the UK, Sierra Leone, Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia. He holds an MBA from the Open University.

OTS Solicitors is recognised as one of the best immigration solicitors in London.  We can provide both individuals and businesses with the advice needed to obtain a Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Investor visa.  To find out more, please call our office on 0207 936 9960 to organise an appointment with one of our immigration law experts.

Warning and Disclaimer:
The information provided in this interview and on OTSsolicitors.co.uk is for general information purposes only. It is not, and should not be construed as, financial or other professional advice. We recommend that you do not solely rely on the information you find here as it is not detailed or comprehensive enough to enable you to make an informed decision without speaking to an independent adviser. We recommend you speak to an independent financial adviser before choosing any products or implementing changes to your finances.

Albany Investment Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Nash & Co Capital Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, firm reference number 196124. Nash & Co Capital Ltd is registered in England & Wales, registered office at 40 Craven Street, London, England, WC2N 5NG, company number 04001724..