A story has recently hit the news that Wander restaurant in Stoke Newington had to be closed by the owner whose visa extension was denied by the Home Office. Although it has not been disclosed what visa type it was, we suspect it was the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur visa). Tier 1 visa is notoriously difficult to renew due to its various technical requirements to be met by Applicants. The restaurant’s owner is hoping to challenge the Home Office decision but the consequences of the refusal are severe as she had to close her business until she regains immigration status.
Key lesson about Tier 1 visa extensions
The key lesson to learn from this story is to be meticulous in preparing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa renewal to ensure that best case is put forward to the Home Office with all the required documents and information listed in the immigration rules and Home Office guidance. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur applications are time consuming and require attention to detail but it is time well spent.
Sometimes, if mandatory requirements were not met by Applicant, it is worth to consider whether it may be better to switch to another visa type instead of submitting a Tier 1 Entrepreneur extension which is likely to fail. For example, some of the Applicants may be able to switch to a spouse visa (if they are married or unmarried Partners of British or Settled person).
The applicant may also consider other options to stay in the UK lawfully.One of them would be to apply for the Sponsor licence for her business. After obtaining sponsor licence she would be able to issue CoS certificate for herself and stay in the country on Skilled worker visa. That would of course involve spending significant amount of money on legal council and government fees. The Wander restaurant owner would have to comply with a plethora of duties and obligations that can be quite onereous. The owner of the Wander would have to pay herself a significant salary as well. But if the business is successful, it may be a sacrifice worth making to keep it going.
Another potential option could be the Innovator visa.
Home office harsh procedures
The case shows how indifferent Home Office can be to the fate of people on Tier 1 visas even if they have invested significant amounts of their own money, built a successful business in the country. There are unfortunately limited opportunities to challenge the Home Office decisions on business immigration permits:
- administrative review (possible if the Home Office makes a caseworking error)
- Judicial Review (legal challenge when Applicant believes the decision was illegal, irrational or unfair) – It is whether the law has been applied correctly and the right procedures have been followed not if the decision was ‘right’.
- Appeal – Appeals are only allowed in certain specific type of cases: refusal of a Human Rights claim or refusal of a protection claim (Asylum/Humanitarian Protection). There are no right of Appeal from the Entrepreneur visa refusals, although there were some attempts in the past to try to bring such appeals on the Human Rights grounds.
Home Office can often deny extension of the visa putting the business owners such as in Wander’s case in dire situation. We are keeping an eye for further news on this case and we will provide updates when the immigration case progresses.