The UK Home Office has recently announced new immigration categories replacing previous categories of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 Entrepreneur. The new both categories are not PBS and technical. Tier 1 Entrepreneur has been replaced by “Innovator Visa” and has significant differences.
The new innovator Visa scheme is in place from 29 March 2019 and previous categories are now closed for the new applicants. This new Visa/ leave to enter or remain as Innovator may be issued to an applicant who wants to set up a business in the UK.
An Applicant for Entry Clearance or Leave to Remain as Innovator needs to show that:
- Investment: Applicant has access to £50k now. This can be from any source which includes funding from endorsement body, personal or third party. These funds must have been held for 3 months by the applicant or have been provided by an approved organisation.
- Endorsement: the applicant must have a business idea which has been endorsed by the Endorsement body. A list of Endorsement bodies has been provided and the Applicants will apply to them at first stage. The endorsing body may provide the required funding of £50k.
- English Language: An Applicant needs to have B2 in all components in English qualification.
- Maintenance: An Applicant must have £3310 or (£945 for in-country switching) as maintenance in personal account for consecutive 90 days. The requirement for dependents is £3310 or £630 each.
- Entrepreneur Team: Two or more Applicants may form an Entrepreneur team. Each applicant needs to have their own £50k and cannot share funds.
- Switching: You can switch to this visa if you are already on: Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. Any Tier 2 Visa and/or; You are a visitor who was granted leave to come to UK to get funding from an endorsing body and has an endorsement letter from the same.
- Application Fee: The application fee is £1021 for applicant and for defendant.
- Decision Time: A decision shall be made within 8 weeks of the application.
- Credibility Test: The visa officer shall not normally do the genuineness and credibility check tests as this is now responsibility of the endorsement body.
- IHS: The Applicant also must pay IHS which is £400 a year and is charged for 3.5 years.
- Duration: The visa is granted for 3 years initially. After 3 years you can extend for further 3 years.
- Dependents: You can bring you family as dependent.
- Job: You cannot work for anything but your own business (businesses). you may establish more than 1 business.
Right of Appeal:
There is no right of appeal if the application is refused and you can only challenge through Admin Review or Judicial Review.
- The initial leave is granted for 3 years.
- You can extend you visa if you satisfy the criteria as such either funds are available or been already invested in business and business is endorsed by the endorsement body to confirm that you are applying for “same business” and have achieved success.
- The Endorsing body shall be having a constant check on the business and shall endorse based on progress in the business and its possibilities in next 12 months. The main criteria are Viability, Innovation and Scalability.
- There is no limitation on extensions, and you can keep extending for next 3 years if you do not qualify for ILR and satisfy the requirements for extension.
Your visa may be curtailed if:
- The Endorsement Body loses its status as an Endorsement Body
- The Endorsement Body withdraws its endorsement.
You can get ILR after 5 years if you qualify the requirements. An applicant can make an application for settlement if they fulfil the requirements and provide required documents. The requirements are;
- They need to provide a “Settlement Endorsement” letter by the Endorsement body.
- The letter must endorse that the business is running actively, is sustainable for next 12 months and meets two of the success criteria. The success criteria are:
- The Applicant has spent £50k in the business in accordance with the business plan which was assessed.
- The current number of the applicant’s business customers is higher than the mean number of other comparable business in the UK and moreover the business customers have at least doubled in last 3 years.
- The business has carried out extensive research and has applied for Intellectual Property Registration in UK.
- The business has generated a revenue of £ 1 million in last 12 months.
- The business has created 10 full time jobs for residents.
- The business has created 5 full time jobs for the residents where the minimum salary is £25k per year in gross.
The New category of Innovator is an exciting opportunity for the people with innovative ideas with having even less investment funds available. Still the role of Endorsement Bodies, how effective and fair their procedures, decisions and checks would be puts a big question mark on the success of the category. Still one thing is confirmed that now only fully qualified Immigration Lawyers with an updated knowledge and skills shall be able to prepare and file applications to save the applicants from any misfortune.
The writer is the Principal solicitor of Julia & Rana Solicitors and has considerable experience in Immigration along with other fields. he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org