Sadly, the rate of refusals for applications is still high and the genuineness test often results in applicants who meet the other requirements of the rules being refused. The difficulties with the test might be seen in the following festive refusal:
Mr S. Claus applied for his visa to allow him to set up a workshop in the UK. He already runs a successful outfit that manufactures and distributes a variety of goods at the North Pole, but as demand has increased, the need has arisen for a second location.
Money is not an object for Mr Claus and, due to his very many years of experience in the sector, he assumed his CV and business plan would be enough to pass the genuineness test but, sadly, the Home Office had other ideas.
After his initial application was submitted Mr Claus was interviewed by the Home Office as it had queries about his business plan including:
The fact his business proposed to manufacture a wide range of seemingly unconnected products and did not have a specific list for customers to choose from;
Possible patent issues as Mr Claus proposed to manufacture products from well known brands but has not researched obtaining the relevant licences;
The lack of a clear pricing model. When Mr Claus explained he did not intend to charge for the products this only served to cause more confusion;
The source of Mr Claus' funds. The Home Office was concerned that if his existing business wasn't selling the products it manufactured, how could it afford to open a second location? In addition, his bank statements for the year to date did not show a high level of income. Mr Claus tried to explain he receives a high amount of seasonal income from appearances at events and shops together with receiving payment in mince pies, but this was not accepted.
Mr Claus' business plan included the introduction of a new "virtual chimney" app to help streamline the ordering process and replace the current mail order system, but Mr Claus has no relevant experience of designing such apps. Mr Claus tried to explain that he was going to hire an expert but as he had no evidence of this the Home Office questioned how a business with no income could afford to hire an app developer;
Concerns about Mr Claus' description of his delivery methods and his "unrealistic" undertaking to deliver all of his products over the course of a single night (they even questioned what would happen if Rudolph got sick or too old);
Questions about Mr Claus' previous experience as he did not provide any references and no one could ever confirm they had seen him actually "working". His documents indicated that he was known by several names and the Home Office was unsure where his current business was based as some documents indicated the North Pole and others containing an address in Lapland.
As a result of these concerns the Home Office took the view that the funds shown by Mr Claus were not genuinely available to him and that he did not genuinely intend to invest in the UK. As it did not consider that Mr Claus was a genuine entrepreneur his application was refused.
With no right of appeal Mr Claus was faced with the prospect of progressing Judicial Review against the Home Office decision or making a further application. Fortunately his existing business and loyal staff have been able to meet demand despite having to work long hours and concerns about elf and safety.
While the above is a light hearted and (for the avoidance of doubt) hypothetical refusal, the genuine entrepreneur test is serious business and there is no guarantee of success. It is important that potential applicants seriously consider the evidence they are providing to the Home Office and take advice to boost their chances of success. Even the most experienced and well known applicant can face refusal if the correct documents are not supplied and clear explanations of their business not given.
If you are planning a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application in the coming months please get in touch to discuss the process and how we can help. In the meantime the question of whether or not Mr Claus himself is genuine remains up for debate.