Brand new business visa for entrepreneurs: What is the Tier 1 Innovator visa?

In the recent Statement of changes HC919 published on 7 March 2019, the Home Office has finally confirmed the end of the road for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur visas. These popular business visas for entrepreneurs will no longer be available from the 29 March 2019 and they will be replaced with the Tier 1 Start-up and Tier 1 Innovator visa. The Home Office will publish the relevant Immigration Rules, Policy Guidance and Appendix W to the Immigration Rules on 29 March 2019. Whilst the Home Office has not officially published the key details such as the eligibility requirements for these visas our solicitors and barristers have researched into these new respective visas and can advise. The Tier 1 Start-up visa is likely to replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and the Tier 1 Innovator visa is likely to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.

What is the Tier 1 Innovator visa?

The Tier 1 Innovator is likely to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa on 29 March 2019. The Tier 1 Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs looking to set up and establish a business in the United Kingdom. Applicants must show that their business is credible and viable and it must be endorsed by a respected and approved endorsing body (see below). It is unclear whether entrepreneurs will be able to join an existing business under the Tier 1 Innovator visa. Previously, this was permitted under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.

What are the key differences between the Tier 1 Innovator visa and Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa?

Unlike the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, Applicants who wish to apply for the Tier 1 Innovator will no longer be required to invest at least £200,000 in their business. The Home Office has introduced a significant change helping potential entrepreneurs by reducing the initial investment amount from £200,000 to £50,000 for new Applicants. It is unclear whether Applicants will be required to hold the investment funds for a period of consecutive 90 days or whether they can rely on third-party funding like the current Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. There will be an English language requirement of B2 and Appendix O of the Immigration Rules will continue to apply.

It also appears the Home Office will no longer carry out the Genuine Entrepreneur Test but this task will be delegated to the relevant endorsement body. This should make the actual visa application process easier and efficient. The main difference is the introduction of the “endorsement requirement” by a relevant business sponsor. It is unclear what constitutes as a relevant endorsement and the requirements are yet to be released.

What are the requirements for a Tier 1 Innovator visa?

As mentioned above, the Tier 1 Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs who wish to set up and establish a business presence in the United Kingdom. It is our understanding that requirements will be as noted below (to be confirmed on 29 March 2019):

  • Applicants must have a credible business idea;
  • Applicants must have at least £50,000 in cash to invest in their proposed business idea;
  • Applicants must meet the English language requirement (Level B2) in accordance with Appendix O of the Immigration Rules;
  • Applicants must meet the maintenance requirement (amount to be confirmed by the Home Office on 29 March 2019); and
  • Applicants must receive a suitable endorsement (see below).

The endorsement must be from an appropriate body which is expected to include some higher education institutions which meet the requirements. 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. It is our understanding Applicants must meet the innovation, viability and scalability requirement to receive an endorsement.

Innovation – Applicants must demonstrate that their business idea is genuine and original. The business idea can 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.

Home Office fee for Tier 1 Innovator visa – Prices to be the same as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa £1021 (entry clearance) and £1277 (switch in-country). IHS is currently £400 per year.

Will there be settlement (indefinite leave to remain) options under the Tier 1 Innovator visa?

Similar to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa there will be a settlement (indefinite leave to remain) option for Applicants. The official Immigration Rules and Home Office Policy guidance on settlement options will be published on 29 March 2019. However, from our research it is our understanding there will be a fast-tracked settlement route for Tier 1 Innovators who are able to meet the following requirements (at least two must be met):

  • Applicants must have invested at least £50,000 in their business;
  • The business must have created at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers;
  • The business must have created 5 full-time jobs for resident workers with a minimum salary of £25,000;
  • The business must have generated gross revenue of at least £1 million;
  • The business must show that there has been an increase in the number of business customers;
  • The business has contributed to valuable research and development and has applied for intellectual property protection in the United Kingdom; or
  • The business is generating a minimum of £500,000 with £100,000 from exporting overseas.

It should be noted that the above is yet to be formally confirmed and there may be some changes to the settlement requirements once the updated Immigration Rules, Home Office Policy Guidance and Appendix W of the Immigration Rules is published on 29 March 2019.

Using Legal Representation to Submit a Tier 1 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 a Tier 1 Innovator visa application. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules for a Tier 1 Innovator 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 Tier 1 Innovator visa 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 Tier 1 Innovator visa application. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successful Tier 1 Innovator visa application in accordance with the Immigration Rules and Appendix W of the Immigration Rules

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 Tier 1 Innovator 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 Tier 1 Innovator visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.

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 a Tier 1 Innovator visa application.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

 

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