Post-Brexit policies designed to restrict or complicate visas would have a damaging long-term effect on the UK economy, according to the report which was launched in parliament by Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, on Monday.
Andy Silvester, head of campaigns at the IoD and co-author of the report, Migrant Entrepreneurship in the UK: celebrating the benefits to Britain, said: “This is an attempt, in one small way, to remind people of the positive contribution that many migrants make to the UK.
“After the referendum, Britain is now likely to re-write its immigration policy. While the government must of course respond to public concerns, the visa system must be open to the world’s brightest and best, many of whom will set up businesses that employ those born here.”
Brazilian-born Rafael dos Santos, co-author of the report and founder of mi-hub, sets out a number of policy recommendations including simplifying the application process for UK work visas, with a focus on speeding up the time from application to decision.
He said: “The [report] shows that migrants contribute much more than they take from the UK economy.”
Among those surveyed by the IoD, the most common reason for coming to the UK was to start a job for which they already had an offer. Other reasons included joining family, coming for a job without having an offer and coming to the UK to study.
Most foreign-born entrepreneurs said they were already employing British workers in their companies, or were planning to do so.
Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, said: “For all the talk of migrants ‘taking our jobs,’ it’s more likely that they will be creating them.”
The IoD asked the migrant entrepreneurs if they experienced challenges above and beyond those of all entrepreneurs. Two-thirds said they did.
The biggest challenge reported was a lack of an established network and contacts in the UK (44%). Others were a lack of knowledge of government and non-government schemes designed to help startups (38%), accessing finance being more difficult as a migrant (33%) and a language barrier.
The report argues tackling these issues would help migrant-led businesses to create more jobs and boost the economy.