New Start-up visa and Innovator route for the UK
The Statement of Changes to the immigration rules published on 7 March 2019 replaced the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route with a new Start-up route that replaces the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur route) with a new Innovator route.
A new and well-aligned visa scheme is needed to make the UK a more attractive and accessible destination for foreign talent and investment.
The Start-up route does not require an individual to be a graduate of a UK university as has been the case with the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur). Integral to both categories is endorsement by UK trusted bodies such as business accelerators, seed competitions and government agencies, as well as higher education providers. A list of endorsing bodies was updated on 1 May 2019 who will assess an applicant’s business ideas for its innovation, viability and scalability. With an endorsement in place, an application can then be made to the Home Office.
A Start-up visa is valid for two years and does not lead to settlement. In those two years the applicant needs to switch in to the Innovator route and this will be valid for three years. For this route, the applicant must have access to £50,000 to invest in their business – reduced from £200,000 required for most Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants. The funding requirement will be waived for those switching from the Start-up category who have made significant achievements against their business plans.
More experienced business professionals, who do not need the initial two year start-up period, can apply for the innovator straightaway. After three years on the Innovator route, an applicant needs to seek endorsement again, either for an extension or for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Eligibility for ILR is assessed on a range of criteria from investment, innovation, business growth and job creation – which applicants may choose from in order to qualify for settlement. If ILR is not possible at this stage an extension for a further three years can be made provided the applicant shows significant achievements, assessed against the business plan used in the initial application.
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