Less than a month ago, the new Innovator Visa category was launched, which has replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK will now have to meet the requirements under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules. Notable changes from the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is that the minimum required investment has dropped to £50,000, however, successful Applicants will first need to secure an endorsement from one of the Innovator Visa Endorsement Bodies.
Who are the new Innovator Visa Endorsement Bodies?
To be granted leave in the UK as an Innovator, Applicants must provide an endorsement letter from an official Home Office approved Endorsement Body and if applicable, demonstrate that they have either invested or have available to invest £50,000 into their business. The current list of Innovator Visa Endorsement Bodies is listed below:
- The Bakery – has 4 programmes which will cover endorsements for individual entrepreneurs, early stage tech companies looking to accelerate growth, for start-ups looking to get revenue from their first big customer and who are looking for strategically aligned corporate investors
- Seed Camp – A European seed fund that identifies and invests in world-class founders attacking large global markets. They have backed more than 650 founders and do not focus on any single sector
- Invest Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland’s regional business development agency focused on growing the local economy. They are a part of the Department for Economy and support businesses by delivering the Government’s economic development strategies.
- Zinc – Has a 9-month full-time company-builder programme which has a single mission to solve a social problem in the developed world. According to their website, they anticipate they will be able to endorse Applicants for an appropriate UK visa including clinicians, engineers, financial services experts, creative designers, researchers, serial entrepreneurs, product managers, NGO innovators, life scientists, care managers, and others
- Deep Science Ventures – Identifiesneglected high-value markets and are drivers of success and opportunities in these markets and builds science-based companies to address them
- Wayra – Connects technological innovators with Telefónica to generate joint business opportunities. They run a series of programmes across multiple industries
- Ignite – One of Europe’s leading accelerator programmes supporting founders from the idea stage through to raising Series A funding, refining concepts, building traction and building a scalable business
- Bethnal Green Ventures – Invests in technology that has the potential to transform the world’s pressing environmental and social challenges
- Codebase – Based in Edinburgh and is the largest technology incubator in the UK
- Capital Enterprise – A body of connectors, influencers, investors and policy-makers who collaborate to scale Start-ups in London
- Cylon – Focuses exclusively on growing cyber security businesses. To date, they have accelerated 76 companies in fields
- TechX – Run by the Oil & Gas Technology Centre provides expertise and support as a technology accelerator and incubator for start-ups and SMEs looking to enter the oil and gas industry
- Seed Haus – A pre-seed tech accelerator that invests in early-stage founders to build start-ups across multiple industries
- Med City – Will support skilled business people working in life sciences
- Scottish Edge – A competition aimed at identifying and supporting Scotland’s entrepreneurial talent
- Royal Society Edinburgh – An educational charity that contributes to social, cultural and economic wellbeing of Scotland through the advancement of learning and useful knowledge. It covers a wide range of disciplines including science & technology, arts, humanities, social science, business and public service
- Tech Nation – has long been an endorsing body for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa and route and will now also be an endorsing body for both Innovators and Start-ups. On their website, Tech Nation explain it is currently developing its own operating procedures for these routes and will not begin accepting or processing applications for digital technology entrepreneurs until September 2019
- NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator, Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator and Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator – These banks each have three very similar programmes available: Pre-Accelerator, Accelerator and Fintech Accelerator
- Set Squared Bristol – Launched by the University of Bristol in 2002 and currently supports over 80 innovative ventures
- Set Squared Exeter – Runs a Business Acceleration programme and Business Incubator programmes at two locations in Exeter at the University of Exeter Innovation Centre and The University of Exeter Innovation Centre
- Set Squared Southampton – Located at the University of Southampton’s Science park in Chilworth and provides support to the local high-tech community. They offer a Business incubation model with virtual, pre-incubation and incubation stage companies.
- Set Squared Surrey – Also supports high-tech, high-growth start-ups in the Surrey Technology Centre. The programme does not take equity in businesses but rather helps members grow in its flexible office space.
For help understanding which Innovator Visa Endorsement Body is right for you, then contact our specialist Immigration Team to arrange a consultation with our Business Immigration Solicitors.
What are the other main requirements of the new Innovator Visa?
As well as getting an endorsement from one of the above-listed Endorsement Bodies, Innovator Visa Applicants will need to demonstrate that they are able to maintain themselves in the UK without recourse to public funds by providing bank statements showing they’ve had at least £945 in savings for 90 consecutive days before they apply. Alternatively, the endorsement body can confirm in the endorsement letter that it has awarded the appropriate amount of maintenance funding to the Applicant, similar to the way Tier 2 Sponsors can certify the maintenance for Tier 2 workers on their CoS.
Applicants also need to prove that the English language requirement is met at the minimum level B2. This can either be shown by:
- Passing an English language test at a Home Office approved test provider; or
- Having a degree which is a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD, or a degree awarded by an establishment outside of the UK that is deemed by UK NARIC to meet the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree or a PhD or is from an educational establishment of certain countries; or
- If the Applicant is a national of a majority English speaking country.
Applicants can also meet the English language requirement without the need to provide evidence, if they have ever been given permission to stay in the UK in one of the following categories:
- Start-up Visa;
- Innovator Visa;
- Tier 1 (General) Visa;
- Tier 1 (Post Study Work) Visa;
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012;
- Tier 2 (Minister of Religion);
- Tier 4 (General) Visa – supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies assigned on or after 21 April 2011.
Applicants will also need to provide evidence of their investment funds if they are setting up a new business and provide tuberculosis test results if they are from a country where they have to take the test.
Using Legal Representation to submit an Innovator Visa application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with an Innovator Visa application. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules for a visa application.
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 application succeeds and meets the requirements, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence in support of your application. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successfully Secure an Endorsement from Innovator Visa Endorsement Bodies
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 UK Visa application and the merit of an application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules under Appendix W.
We 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 successful visa applications. 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 to discuss the new visa route.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.