In a sweeping change, the UK Home Office announced on 7th March 2019 the closure of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category. The new replacement category is designated the Innovator Visa.
As a result of this change, the investment funds required have reduced from £200,000 to a minimum of £50,000, however applicants will now have to be endorsed by a third-party organisation.
Innovator Visa Endorsement
All endorsing bodies are to be listed on the gov.uk website. At this time a list has yet to be released and the criteria for how the endorsing bodies will make their assessment is not yet known. However, the Home Office has laid out a list of the criteria for an organisation to be listed as an endorsing body:
The organisation must demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, including resident workers. (Exceptionally this requirement may be waived, for example where a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own track record.)
The request to become an endorsing body must be supported by a UK or devolved government department as being clearly linked to that department’s policy objectives.
The organisation must be able to competently assess applicants’ business ventures against the endorsement criteria set out in these Worker rules.
Visa Kings Global have the expertise to assess and determine how to best present the proposal to the endorsing body.
Applying to be Endorsed as an Innovator
An applicant of a “new business” must demonstrate the criteria of following separate categories to be endorsed:
- Innovation: The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
- Viability: The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
- Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
Furthermore, the endorsing body must be satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing business ventures.
Requirement for Investment
The applicant requires an investment fund of at least £50,000. In the case of a team of Entrepreneurs, each team member must have access to a minimum of £50,000. Under the new rules, applicants can rely on investments they have already made in their business, but only those made within 12 months of their application.
As evidence of investment, funds must have been held for 3 months as per the old rules or further evidence needs to be submitted from the person providing the funds. Clarity on a point regarding other sources of funds is pending in the awaited guidance from the Home Office.
Indefinite Leave to Remain Under the Innovator Visa
To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, an applicant must meet further assessment. The Home Office has published a list of criteria, with the individual required to meet at least two of them:
At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.
The number of the business’ customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.
The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).
Visa Kings Global Can Show You the Way
The Visa Kings Global team have had many years’ experience in the venture capital arena innovating funds and raising money for start-ups and new ventures. This is a highly specific area of expertise which is now an optimum advantage in that we have had years of experience in exactly the areas the Home Office are now targeting.
Additionally, our team have worked with and/or are are familiar with a number of organisations likely to become endorsing bodies. We have experience of presenting cases based on the £50,000 venture fund requirement which many other advisers have not, concentrating instead on the £200,000 category.
In view of the time it can take to prepare an acceptable plan, now is the moment to start so that you are ready as soon as the endorsing bodies are confirmed. We will then ensure you can be in the early applications for the new UK Innovator visa.
For expert advice and assistance with the UK Innovator visa category, please contact Visa Kings Global’s team who will be happy to provide the latest information relevant to your specific requirements.