Business visa update: Tier 1 Innovator visa route up and running

On 29 March 2019, the Tier 1 Innovator visa replaced the former Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.  The Tier 1 Innovator visa was introduced to accommodate business people with new business ideas under Appendix W to the Immigration Rules. The application process is different from the Tier 1 Entrepreneur as Applicants are now required to obtain an endorsement from an approved body before the UKVI application. The Home Office also introduced another significant change in the eligibility criteria changing the investment requirement from £200,000 to £50,000.   

What is the Tier 1 Innovator visa?

The Tier 1 Innovator visa was introduced for businesspeople looking to establish a new business in the UK.  The innovator category is for the more experienced business people who wish to introduce a new business in the UK. If you’re not an experienced business person and you are a new entrepreneur you can apply under the Tier 1 Start-up visa. The eligibility criteria for both applications are similar and both require an endorsement (see below) prior to the UKVI application.  Innovators must only wok on developing their business venture and ensure that they do not engage in any prohibited activities (see below). The Home Office application fee remains the same as the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa £1021 (entry clearance) and £1277 (switch in-country). IHS is currently £400 per year.

What are the requirements for a Tier 1 Innovator visa?

As mentioned above, the Tier 1 Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs/business people who wish to set up and establish a new business presence in the United Kingdom. The following requirements must be met:

  • You must have a credible and viable business proposal;
  • You must meet the financial investment requirement of £50,000;
  • You must meet the English language requirement(Level B2) in accordance with Appendix O of the Immigration Rules;
  • You must meet the maintenance requirement of £945 and the hold the funds for 90 consecutive days; and
  • You must apply for an endorsement (see below).

There are a number of different endorsement bodies and applicants must apply for endorsement from an appropriate body.  The endorsement bodies must have a proven track record of supporting entrepreneurs that are approved by the Home Office. A business plan will be required when applying for the endorsement. Applicants must meet the innovation, viability and scalability requirement to receive an endorsement.

Innovation – Applicants must demonstrate that their business idea is unique and genuine. The business idea can be for a tangible product-based business or a service-related business.

Viability – Applicants must demonstrate that their business is practical and credible. Applicants would be required to show that they have the expertise or specialist knowledge of their chosen business field to enable the business to success. Applicants must prepare and submit a well-drafted business plan to show that the business has a clear vision and all the relevant considerations such as start-up costs, target market, market segmentation and competition have been taken into consideration. The business plan should also show the projected cash flow forecast for the first 3 years for the business. Information on other relevant factors such as strengths and weakness of the business and the impact of future growth/decline of the business sector they wish to operate in.

Scalability – Applicants must show that their business idea will benefit the economy in the United Kingdom and the business will contribute to job creation and growth into relevant markets.

What are the permitted activities under the Tier 1 Innovator visa?

It is important for Applicants to be aware of the permitted and prohibited activities under the Tier 1 Innovator visa.  Applicants can set up a business or several businesses but they cannot do any work outside the business assigned to the Tier 1 Innovator visa. Applicants can work for the business as a director or self-employed as a member of a business partnership. Another benefit of applying for the Tier 1 Innovator visa is that you can apply to bring their family members with them as their Tier 1 Innovator dependents. You cannot rely on public funds. Applicants can stay in the UK for 3 years and they can apply to extend their visa 28 days before the expiry of their leave. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for an extension. Similar to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur application, there is a settlement option for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years.

Using Legal Representation to apply for a Tier 1 Innovator visa

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a Tier 1 Innovator visa under the UK Immigration Rules.

Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your Tier 1 Innovator visa succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.

This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your Tier 1 Innovator visa application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successful Tier 1 Innovator visa application

Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of Tier 1 Innovator visa application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your Tier 1 Innovator visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to a successful Tier 1 Innovator visa application. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02030110276 or complete our contact form.


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