This week, ITV reported that the Home Office have refused to grant Neha Chaudhry, an award winning young Pakistani entrepreneur, a visa to remain in the country as a highly skilled migrant. Ms Chaudhry, received recognition worldwide as one of Britain’s best young entrepreneurs after inventing a ‘smart’ walking stick which would transform the lives of thousands of Parkinson’s sufferers in the UK and around the world.
Ms Chaudhry is a product design technology graduate of the University of the West of England. After graduating she founded a start-up company ‘Walk to Beat’ and developed a ‘smart’ walking stick that could help increase the mobility of Parkinson’s sufferers. She was inspired to create ‘Walk to Beat’ after seeing her late grandfather struggle with the disease.
The device uses a sensor to detect when a user’s limbs have frozen, then prompts the user to continue walking via a small vibration in the handle that helps re-establish rhythm. The smart walking stick has garnered attention from both the NHS and Parkinson’s UK and has attracted six figures sums from investment firms wanting to take it to widespread production.
After applying to stay in the UK as an Entrepreneur, Ms Chaudhry’s application was refused – it appears the reason behind the refusal was a minor failure to submit evidence/information that she was the director of a UK company. Despite the fact that this information is readily available on Companies House website, the application was refused.
It is rather odd that the Home Office did not carry out a simple check online or even contact Ms Chaudhry and give her the opportunity to produce evidence that she was the director of the company. Instead, the application was refused and Ms Chaudhry was told to challenge the decision by way of Administrative Review or leave the UK within 14 days.
At a time when we should be welcoming and retaining such highly skilled migrants, we seem to be turning them away.