Cameron 'red carpet' offer to foreign entrepreneurs

Media caption,
Cameron: 'We want the world to know Britain is the land of opportunity'

David Cameron has promised to reform the immigration rules to allow more foreign entrepreneurs to set up new businesses in the UK.

Announcing plans for an "entrepreneurs visa", the prime minister said he wanted to "put out the red carpet" for people able to create wealth and jobs.

Those with a "great business idea" and "serious investment" were welcome.

Businesses have expressed concerns about government plans to cap the number of non-EU migrants every year.

In a speech in east London, Mr Cameron sought to address some of these concerns and also announced changes to copyright law to attract more hi-tech companies to the UK.

'Loud and clear'

The prime minister said he wanted to make it "loud and clear" that anyone with a business idea - whether it had come from "a classroom or a laboratory" - could come to Britain to turn the dream into reality.

He said the government would reform the points-based system for allowing highly-skilled people into the UK - known as Tier One - introduced by Labour, saying it had been a "complete failure".

Instead of ensuring the "best and brightest" came into the UK, it had allowed too many unskilled people into the country.

"This is wrong and it must change", he said.

He said plans for an "entrepreneur visa" would be introduced to make the UK the "home of enterprise and land of opportunity".

"If you have a great business idea, and you receive serious investment from a leading investor, you are welcome to set up your business in our country," he said. "We want you, we will make it easy for you, we will put the red carpet out for you."

This could be done while also fulfilling the government's pledge to reducing net immigration from its current level of 196,000 a year to "tens of thousands", Mr Cameron added.

'Tech city'

Business has expressed concerns about plans for a permanent cap on non-EU migrants due to come into force next April as well as a temporary cap of 24,100 a year in force since the summer.

Mr Cameron has already sought to recognise these concerns, telling the CBI annual conference last month that the new limits would not "impede" firms from recruiting the best talent from around the world.

According to the Home Office, there is already scope for foreign entrepreneurs to enter the UK within the existing points-based immigration system.

The department says it will consider applications from "those investing in the UK by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of, one or more businesses in the UK".

However, only 139 people entered the country this way in 2009.

In Thursday's speech, Mr Cameron also promised to work to help London's East End become a "world-leading technology city" to rival Silicon Valley in California, announcing that Google, Facebook and Intel were among the firms investing in the area.

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