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Tier 1 Innovator Visa & Start Up | Requirements of the Visa & How to Apply

Apply for a Tier 1 Innovator Visa

The Innovator visa will have 2 sub-categories (a) Start-up (b) Innovator from April 2019. Both of these categories will now replace the existing Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa categories. The categories for new applicant’s will close and those under those categories already will be part of the transitional arrangements.

Both the existing visa categories required substantial reform which was one of the reasons why there was a need to make changes to the visa requirements. The requirements as well as the specified evidences needed to meet the new policy are contained in the Immigration Rules.

The visa routes will require an “Endorsing Body” to provide a sponsorship confirmation that you have a genuine, credible and scalable business. This is similar to how the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa operates and the Home Office will add/remove Endorsing Bodies as time goes by. Central to both of the new categories will be endorsement of Applicants by UK trusted bodies such as business accelerators, seed competitions and government agencies, as well as higher education providers. These bodies will assess your business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability.

Requirements of the Start-up and Innovator Visa's

The requirements to meet the published policies on these 2 application routes, you will be expected to go through rigorous checks as well as your credibility as a “business person”.

For the “Start-up” visa category, is similar to the Graduate Entrepreneur visa and this visa is aimed at those wishing to start their own business in the UK. This is not limited to graduates and is open for everyone, creating flexibility to the approach on these visas. The Start-up visas will now be valid for 2 years instead of the 12 months given on the Graduate Entrepreneur visa. It is also a benchmark permitting an Applicant to switch into the long term “Innovator” visa.

Moving on to the Innovator visa, this category is more aimed at more experienced business people and those who have good track records. An endorsement will be required from an approved Endorsing Body and will need to have access to £50,000 in funding, to meet the Immigration Rules.

To apply for the Start-up or Innovator visa, you will be required to meet the following requirements:

  1. Provide a full business plan, which will set out your business vision as well as the product/service you intend to operate in the UK and most importantly, how the financial aspect of the business will look. ICS Legal are able to advise and help on preparing your business plan. You can find more details on this by clicking here.

  2. Provide your sponsorship document from the approved Endorsing Body. As part of this, you will be required to make a separate application to be endorsed by the approved body.

  3. The Endorsing Body will require you to demonstrate that you have a credible and genuine business idea. Further to that, you will be required to provide evidences of your business experience, qualifications you hold, previous work experience and your future intentions as a business person.

  4. Meet the English language requirements. The approved tests that an Applicant should complete are contained within the Immigration Rules. You may be exempted from the requirements if you are from a majority speaking English language country or have completed a degree taught in English.

  5. Meet the maintenance requirements. There will be a number of ways to meet the requirements which can include maintenance being sponsored.

How to make the visa application

The visa application as either a Start-up or Innovator can be made either in the UK or outside of the UK. Switching into the categories is limited to those currently holding specific visas & subject to changes.

How ICS Legal can advice and prepare your application

At ICS Legal, we provide you with full managed service and our work will typically involve:

  1. Discussing your circumstances in detail and confirming whether this is the most appropriate application for you to make and what other options may be available to you.

  2. Giving you advice about the requirements of the Immigration Rules and whether you meet the criteria.

  3. If you do not fulfil the criteria, whether this can be overcome and how.

  4. Reviewing and suggesting amendments to the business plan from an immigration perspective if this was not prepared by us.

  5. Discussing the permissibility of your proposed business for the purposes of the immigration application.

  6. Preparing an application for your review, approval and submission.

  7. Giving you advice about the outcome of the application and any further steps you need to take.

To check whether you meet the requirements, you can contact us on 0207 237 3388 or you can complete our free assessment, by clicking here.

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