Innovator and Start Up visa

As of 29th March 2019, the Tier 1 Innovator and Start Up visa replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur visa.

Innovators

The Tier 1 Innovator applies to individuals who:

N

Want to set up a business in the UK and have at least £50,000 in investment funds or want to run a business that they have founded and is already trading in the UK and the business as been endorsed for an earlier visa, in which case no funds are needed

N

Is from outside the EEA and Switzerland (however if you are extending your visa or switching to a new category this can be submitted in the UK)

N

Has a business or business idea which has been endorsed by an approved body

N

Meets the English language requirement (at CEFR level B2 or an academic qualification taught in English and recognised by UK NARIC)

N

Is at least 18 years old

N

Has personal savings of at least £945 in his/her bank account for 90 consecutive days before applying (the maintenance requirement)

Compared to the previous Entrepreneur route, for the Innovator, visa points are not awarded for meeting certain criteria. Instead, the individual must seek endorsement from an approved endorsing body

Key factors to be aware of with Innovator status:

N

Many endorsing bodies require you to be enrolled on their programme. These tend to be incubator / accelerator-based programmes where you may need to offer equity in your business. Some endorsing bodies are only open to existing customers

N

The endorsement criteria to be met are innovation, viability & scalability, working the entire time as an Innovator or in case of a start-up, developing the business venture. The viability criteria requires the applicant to not only have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business but also that the business plan is realistic and achievable based on the applicant’s available resources. Although the Home Office guidance outlines how the innovation, reliability and scalability criteria must be assessed, there is no provision for this in the rules. Furthermore, most Innovations are sought within specific regionally focussed IT, life sciences, education and finance sectors

N

Applicants may change business venture without the need for a fresh endorsement or fresh application providing their endorsing bodies are satisfied the new venture meets all criteria for endorsement

N

Applicants who have changed business venture in this way and are switching from Start-up to Innovator do not need to meet the £50,000 funding threshold for “new business” applications

N

The endorsing bodies must have a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs including resident workers

N

Higher education providers and government bodies can become endorsing bodies

N

The endorsement body must be able to competently assess business ventures and maintain contact with their endorsees at three checkpoints (6, 12 and 24 months) after the application has been granted;

N

The body has the authority to withdraw endorsement should any breaches occur, such as lack of progress or missing the checkpoint without authorisation

N

The endorsement letter must be used within 3 months of the issue date

N

You cannot work outside your business (be employed by another business) or access public funds

Start Ups

As the name implies, this is for younger stage business and is suited to graduates. It is similar to the Innovator route in terms of requiring approval from an endorsing body, however, there are some key differences.

The Start Up visa applies to those who:

N

Want to set up a business in the UK

N

Are from outside the EEA and Switzerland (however if you are extending your visa or switching to a new category this can be submitted in the UK)

N

Are at least 18 years old

N

Meet the English language requirement

N

Have personal savings of at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply

N

Have been endorsed by an authorised body that is either:

N

A UK higher education institution

N

A business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

N

Have a business idea that is a new idea, innovative, viable with potential for growth.

Compared to the previous Entrepreneur route, for the Innovator, visa points are not awarded for meeting certain criteria. Instead, the individual must seek endorsement from an approved endorsing body

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

The Innovator route can lead to settlement after three years, however in order to be successful the same business criteria must be met alongside two of the seven requirements outlined in the guidance.

The scalability of the business will be questioned by looking at the business structure, the number of jobs created and the achievement of growth into national and international markets.

For many businesses meeting two out of the seven criteria within three years of endorsement will be unachievable, therefore an extension will be required.

Those who wish to utilise this category of visa must be willing to share a stake in their business with the endorsing body and be ready to defuse a potential conflict of interest, if the endorser is unhappy with how the innovator is managing the business enterprise. If the endorser wishes to withdraw the endorsement or provide a less than satisfactory endorsement at the settlement stage, the Home Office may refuse the application. The responsibility of an administrative review of this decision would however lie with the endorsement body and not the Home Office.

The Start Up visa is issued for two years and it cannot be extended. Please note that you cannot settle in the UK on this visa. It is expected that on the conclusion of the two-year period, you switch to an alternative immigration status e.g. Innovator or work sponsorship.

Migrate UK comments

There was much interest in these two new routes when initially introduced and on first glance, it was refreshing to see that the guidance was much shorter and open than that for Entrepreneurs (a route now closed to first-time applicants). Unfortunately, the Innovator route has not gained much interest due to the very restrictive nature of the endorsement and qualifying criteria for indefinite leave to remain (settlement). Some endorsing bodies have taken themselves off the register and others have only just introduced their schemes. However, the scheme is young and may yet attract more endorsing bodies who have different criteria and not operate under an equity share / accelerator / incubator program.

For now, this cannot be considered a true replacement for entrepreneurs and we await a scheme that allows businesspersons to set up and flourish. Alternative options for now include Sole Representatives and employer sponsorship under Tier 2.

Our fee for full representation starts from £1450 plus VAT (if applicable).

Want to know more?

Call us for a free initial consultation