UK Tier 1 Innovator Visa
Many people wish to move to the UK for the purposes of starting a business. If you are an entrepreneur with a innovative business idea there is now two new visa categories that may be of interest to you; the Tier 1 Start Up Visa and the Tier 1 Innovator Visa.
Previously, the Entrepreneur Visa was the key route to starting a business in the United Kingdom however, as of the 1st April 2019 applicants can no longer apply for the Entrepreneur Visa.
The Tier 1 Innovator Visa is for experienced entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the UK and is aimed at those who have a business idea that is innovative, viable and scalable. The business idea must be endorsed by a recognised endorsing body who has assessed the business plan.
Qualifying for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa
Here are the key changes set out by the Home Office:
- Meet the English language requirement of Level B2
- Have £50,000 (previously £200,000 was required) to invest from a legitimate source or personal savings.
- Have an endorsement from a regulated body approved by the Home Office.
These funds of £50,000 can be from personal savings, the endorsing body or from a regulated third party financial institution. You must also show that you can support yourself whilst you are in the UK and you must only work on your business idea and not undertake any other type of employment. This could lead to your endorsing body withdrawing their endorsement.
If you intend to apply with more than one applicant for your business idea you must have £50,000 to invest into the business for each applicant. This will be checked by the endorsement body.
The Innovator visa will require its applicants to submit a business plan and other supporting documents in order for them to be endorsed. The endorsement will be from a endorsing body and will be mandatory for all applicants. The endorsing bodies selected by the Home Office can be found here. The endorsing bodies has specified certain requirements that they will look for which include:
- Innovation – it is likely they will assess whether the business products, marketing or branding display any innovation. Here a focus on new methods, branding and perhaps most significantly new inventive products or services will be assessed.
- Viability – it will not be enough to simply be innovative, it is likely that the business will need to show that it has thought about an made plans to be viable. Essentially this means a careful assessment of whether the business will be able to provide the product or service in question, and whether it will be able to maintain cash flow until profitability. It is unlikely that the business plan that does not have a clear route to profitability will be accepted.
- Scalability – this is relevant to start-ups most of all – business plans will need to have clear goals to scale. This is relatively easy for tech companies who are built to scale up from the outset. However, all is not lost for companies in other sectors or others who are experts in other forms of businesses. For example, someone who wants to commence a fast food business will clearly be at a disadvantage if there seek to set up a single store which relies on local foot traffic for business. But if the same business, instead sought to open a number of branches of a fast food outlet that had strong branding, had innovative ideas or menu products (ie a normal range of fast food products as well as some that were indigenous from their country) or a strong process in its kitchen, this would fulfil all the relevant criteria.
- Client’s thoughts and plans will need to be tweaked to encourage the 3 elements above in the business plan and in the execution of the business.
The Innovator visa will require its applicants to submit a business plan and other supporting documents in order for them to be endorsed. The endorsement will be from a endorsing body and will be mandatory for all applicants. The endorsing bodies selected by the Home Office can be found here.
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