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New Immigration Rules For Start-Up & Innovator Visas

Last week the UK government provided information dealing with new changes in immigration rules. This time the requirements are tightened again. We focused on the Investor Visa in our materials before. In this report, we are highlighting the new changes – Start-Up and Innovator Visas – in detail. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur Graduate) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas will no longer exist, and instead of them, according to the new immigration amendments, one can apply for the above categories. But still, the Graduate Entrepreneur will remain open until July 6, 2019.

The candidates for both Start-Up and Innovator routes will have to:

  • be recommended by trusted organisations in the UK, dealing with business development, seed competitions, government agencies, and higher education providers;
  • constantly be in touch with those endorsing bodies;
  • prove their English language competence at level B2 (currently B1 level is satisfactory);
  • demonstrate the strength of their business plans (they may be interviewed to check this);
  • show that they hold £945 in their account for 90 days prior to the application (although these funds can now also be provided by the endorsing bodies).

These visas holders will be allowed to come with their dependents, if they meet the requirements similar to the Point Based System. 

Start-up Visa

Up to the 5th of July the Graduate Entrepreneur route will still be available to the candidates applying based on the previous immigration rules.

Start-Up visa is an extended variation of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, developed for those who start a new business in the UK. The candidate does not have to be a graduate and is not required to receive any financial support. A successful applicant will receive a visa for 2 years (not for a year), being able to switch to an Innovator Visa and continue to establish their business in the UK.

Appendix W reveals specific information regarding a Start-Up visa, including the data about those who can recommend visa applicants, their monitoring responsibilities and the form of a letter of references, which should demonstrate “innovation, viability and scale” of the business. In addition, a stay under the Start-Up visa does not oblige you to work only on your business; a letter of recommendation should contain a note that the applicant will devote most of his working time in the UK to business development.

A start-up visa does not directly lead to obtaining permanent residency in the UK, although the applicant will be able to switch to an Innovator visa. For those who already reside in the UK on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, there are transitional agreements for switching to the new system.

Innovator Visa

Entrepreneur Visa will be replaced by the Innovator Visa.

Innovator category is developed for more experienced businessmen, and it is available for a variety of fields including financial companies, IT companies, and many more. Along with recommendations from reputable organizations, applicants will need £50,000 to invest in their business from any legitimate source. Financial requirements will be canceled for those who move from the Start-Up visa category and have achieved significant success, adhering to their business plans. Residing under this category in the UK, you can get permanent resident status here.

The three main criteria that each applicant must meet are the same as for Start-Up Visa – the “innovation, viability and scale” of the business, although it is expected that the applicant will demonstrate the necessary skills (Start-Up Visa holders can show that they work upon them, and that there is a potential for growth of their business in national and international markets (as opposed to national scale for Start-Up Visa). The recommending organisation should also indicate in a letter that the applicant will spend all their working time in the UK for this business; that is, innovators cannot work anywhere else, except for their own business.

The list of organisations that can endorse someone to get a visa of new categories does not yet exist, but all of them must comply with the requirements set out in the law.

Innovators will be eligible for settled status after 3 years of continuous residence in the UK under Innovator Visa, provided they meet at least two of the list of criteria for how much money they invested, how their business developed and how many people they employed.

For further information, please contact our experts who can also provide support on family visas, UK citizenship applications, settled /pre-settled status for EU nationals, and many more immigration services.

T: 020 8935 5205

M:+44 7710987064


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Master Legal Services is a company Registered in England & Wales No.10309474. We are authorised to provide immigration advice and services by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC).


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