The UK Home Office has recently announced new immigration categories replacing previous categories of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 Entrepreneur. The new categories consist of Innovator Visa & UK Start-up Visa categories. The categories are not on Point Based System, which may lead to certain technicalities in various ways.
This route is for new entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been assessed and supported by an approved endorsing body. This category of visa is effective from 29 March 2019. The Application can be made from inside UK and also from outside. It is interesting that as against to Graduate Entrepreneur visa, applicant does not have to have a UK Degree to qualify.
An Applicant for Entry Clearance or Leave to Remain as Start-up needs to satisfy certain requirements:
- Age: The Applicant must be over 18 years of age.
- English Language:An Applicant needs to have B2 level in all components in English qualification.
- 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, who may, after a complete examination, issue a letter endorsing the Applicant’s Business Idea.
- Maintenance: An Applicant must have £945 as maintenance in personal account for consecutive 90 days. For each Dependant, they must have £630 as maintenance funds for the said period of 90 days. There is no specific maintenance amount for the dependants, but the maintenance funds for the Applicant and Dependants should be ‘sufficient’ or ‘enough’. The required funds should be in the Home Office approved financial institution and must be available to the Applicant in the prescribed form.
Important Points to Consider:
- Investment: Unlike in Innovator Visa or Tier 1 Investor Visa, there is no minimum investment required by the Home Office for Start-up Visa. However, there should be sufficient investment available to the Applicant to support the idea for Start-up.
- Start-up teams: Multiple Start-up migrants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company. However, these are not linked as “team” applications and each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body.
- 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;
- Tier 4 (General) Student (subject to certain limitation – below); 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 £363 for Applicant and same for each Dependant.
- Decision Time: A decision shall be made within 3 weeks of the application.
- Credibility Test: The visa officer may not normally do the genuineness and credibility check tests as this is now responsibility of the endorsement body. However, there are certain credibility assessment undertook by the Home Office while considering the Start-up Visa Application.
- IHS: The Applicant also must pay IHS which is £400 a year and is charged for 2 years.
- Duration: The visa is granted for 2 years only. There is no extension on this category; however, you can switch to Innovator Visa or any Tier 1 Visa after the expiry of initial term.
- Settlement: This category does not lead to settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. Therefore, the Applicant may switch to another category of leave to remain (as above) in order to obtain route for settlement.
- Dependants: You can bring you family as dependent.
- Job: The Applicant can undertake another job along with carry out his/her own business activities.
Right of Appeal:
There is no right of appeal if the application is refused and you can only challenge through Administrative Review or Judicial Review.
- The initial leave is granted for 2 years.
- You cannot further extend your stay in the UK; instead, you have to switch into another available and prescribed category for leave in the UK.
- 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.
Your visa may be curtailed if:
- The Endorsement Body loses its status as an Endorsement Body
- The Endorsement Body withdraws its endorsement.
Switching from Tier 4 (General) Student (Restrictions)
If the applicant’s last grant of leave was as a Tier 4 (General) Student, they must have been sponsored as a Tier 4 (General) Student by one of the following;
- a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution
- an overseas higher education institution to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the United Kingdom
- an Independent School
The Start-Up visa is a good option for people with less investment but a bright and innovative business Idea. The two year visa shall give them a chance to establish their business and make it a success. They can later switch to the Innovative Visa comparatively easily and obtain settlement in the UK eventually.
Mr. Javaid Ali is a Trainee Solicitor at Julia & Rana Solicitors. He assists in Litigation Department.