Home Office is crushing my entrepreneurial dreams.... #savemaktok
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My name is Will and I'm the heart of Mak Tok. At Mak Tok, we make one of the best Malaysian chilli paste in the UK and possibly the world based on a secret family recipe. The company was founded in May 2017 and we recently celebrated our first year anniversary with Cllr Majid at the University of Sheffield - which is where we are based. Recently, me and my cohesive team received a very depressing news from the Home Office. I'm currently in the midst of having to leave the UK within 14 days after receiving a refusal letter dated the 5th of June from the Home Office in relation to my Tier 1 Entrepreneur application.
Below is my timeline as an entrepreneur in Sheffield:
- August 2014 - Moved to Sheffield from Malaysia to pursue my Masters in Music Psychology
- Sept 2015 - Completed my studies and was given an endorsement by the University of Sheffield to work on my business idea
- Feb 2016 - Granted Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and Started my first company, BerMuzik, on a self-employed basis.
- Feb 2017 - Granted an extension on my Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.
- May 2017 - Founded Mak Tok on a self-employed basis whilst running BerMuzik on the side (which turns out to be a seasonal business).
- Jan 2018 - Applied to switch to a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.
- May 2018 - Celebrated Mak Tok's first birthday and had Mayor Cllr Majid launch our new branding.
- June 2018 - Received a letter on the 7th of June (dated 5th of June) after nearly 6 months stating that my application has been refused.
The HO decided to refuse my application because they were not satisfied with one of the criteria - the £50,000 fund.
On the day I submitted my application, I have majority of the fund in my personal bank account and the rest in my business bank accounts (Santander & NatWest) which fulfilled the said criteria. The thing is, the money in the business bank needs to be recorded and signed off by an accountant. All these while, I have been using a cash basis whereby I only report the final income and losses to the HMRC (and I do have records of all my business expenditure). I did not know that the money in my business bank accounts are considered "investments" because they are sole trader business accounts (which generally works the same way as personal bank account). I considered money in these accounts as my personal/wage at the end of the day after tax (GOV.UK) and because there is no legal distinction between the business and the owner when they are classed as self employed (Thompson Reuters).
Next, the HO said there wasn't any evidence provided of being a director of my company and that it isn't registered for corporation tax. I incorporated my business Mak Tok to Mak Tok Limited only recently (in April 2018) and my other business (BerMuzik) remained as sole trader. On this basis, I can only show that I have been filing my returns to HMRC within the self-assessment tax system. I would've thought the HO have this information anyways since they have my Unique Tax Reference and National Insurance number - of which I noted in the application form.
Due to the issues outlined above, the HO decided to refuse my application. Right now, I'm not sure if I have any stand if I were to apply for an administrative review. According to several immigration solicitors, that would only buy me an extra 2-4 weeks worth of time. Also from my understanding, page 6 of the letter said I have 14 days to pack up and leave.
If the HO's decision stands, I will have to:
- Say goodbye to a life I've built in Sheffield and Leeds
- Leave my friends and family
- Heavy-heartedly making my team redundant (so sorry team..)
- Potentially closing down both of my budding startups
I really don't know where else to turn to and am hoping you could help me to improve my chances to continue to pursue my dreams here in Sheffield. I would really appreciate if you could share this petition on your social media with #savemaktok
Thank you from the bottom of my broken heart.
With all my love and hope,
-The ♥ of Mak Tok-
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