Rules relaxed to lure foreign businessmen

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Indy Politics

Foreign entrepreneurs are to be given extra help to settle in Britain under a new government scheme to be announced today.

Foreign entrepreneurs are to be given extra help to settle in Britain under a new government scheme to be announced today.

Barbara Roche, the Immigration minister, will unveil the so-called "innovators project" with the aim of attracting business people from all over the globe to boost e-commerce and other key areas.

The announcement is the first concrete example of Ms Roche's commitment, announced last week, to end the 30-year "closed door" policy on economic migrants.

Current regulations mean that foreign business people have to either buy a British-based company worth more than £200,000 or promise to invest £1m in business in the United Kingdom to be allowed temporary residency.

Under the new plans, immigration rules will be relaxed in a pilot project for those who arrive with "intellectual property", such as a business idea for e-commerce, even if they have not yet developed it commercially.

Similar schemes in the United States and Canada have proved successful and ministers believe that they offer a valuable means of attracting crucial information technology and computer skills to the UK.

In the House of Commons yesterday Ms Roche said the Government would bring forward the scheme as part of its wider attempt to prove the positive impact of immigrants on society and the economy.

The minister told MPs at Home Office question time:"The [innovators] scheme will create a route of entry for individuals who can bring economic benefits to our country but who do not qualify for entry as entrepreneurs under the existing rules."

Ms Roche said a programme of "refugee integration" - which would also illustrate the contribution refugees have made to Britain over the decades - would be launched later this year.

The Home Office is keen to rebut criticism that its "firm but fair" stance on asylum and immigration is an attempt to outdo the Tories' hardline policies on the issue.

As part of wider moves to draw a clear dividing line with the Conservatives, Ms Roche stressed last week that limited economic migration was a force for good for most countries.

She made it clear that far from arriving in the UK to take the jobs of indigenous workers, many foreign nationals set up their own businesses and created employment for others.

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