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Tier 1 Innovator Visa | Working and Business Visas in the UK

Tier 1 Innovator Visa

The Tier 1 Innovator is the replacement visa category for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur, as this has been closed down for all new applicants. One of the core changes to the category was to bring in third party investment companies also known as venture capital firms (majority scheme providers) including UK Government agencies, known as the Endorsing Bodies, to look at the businesses and consider whether you have a scalable, innovative and viable business. 

The Home Office have recognised that there have been clear failures under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur via route whereby they had taken the task of asking their Officials to assess a business and then making a decision whether the migrant had a good business idea as well as the right skills. This never worked, so the Tier 1 Innovator comes with a tougher scheme but in the right step of direction. Whilst these stringent policies have been introduced, we find that it was a sensible decision because these Endorsing Bodies will also help your business to grow and if they do not believe in your business idea, then it might be sensible to go back to the drawing board. 

The visa category is open for everyone to apply and allows the investment of more than £50,000. As with any businesses, the level of investments are determined based on the type of business you intend to operate in the UK. Your business plan will usually outline the business opening costs and will determine you’re costing on what is required. You can find more details of the type of help we can provide by clicking here

One of the greatest advantages of applying for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa is the ability to apply for indefinite leave to remain, otherwise known as settlement after 3 years of residency. To apply for indefinite leave to remain under the Tier 1 Innovator visa requires you to meet strict guidelines and those are set out below. 

Choosing the Endorsing Agency for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

It is important that you research and discuss your business ideas with the right Endorsement Agency because they will be part of your business throughout the periods of your residency in the UK. 

Prior making a decision, you can speak to one of our UK Immigration Lawyers, who can look at your business idea and the plan created, and then advise on the most appropriate Endorsement Agency. 

We will always work on your best interest and ensure that you are fully aware of charges and any other key details prior engaging a suitable body. 

If you would like us to help in choosing the most appropriate endorsing agencies, you can speak to one of our UK Immigration Lawyers on 0207 237 3388 or email us your enquiry to info@icslegal.com

The requirements of the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

As with the Tier 1 Innovator Visa, you will need the Endorsing Agency to provide confirmation of their support to your application, which means at this stage, your business idea and its plan has been assessed, approved and you are now in agreement with the Endorsing Agency. 

Here are the summary requirements of what you need to meet at the date of application once the endorsement letter is approved and awarded to you:

  1. Importantly, you must be 18 years of age at the date of application as this is legal requirement. 

  2. You will need to meet the English language requirement, which can be met in a number of ways including having a degree taught in English, or you may have completed an approved test or you are from a majority English speaking country. Specified evidences would need to be provided at the date of application. 

  3. All applications under the Tier 1 Innovator Visa are considered under the general grounds of refusal. You must not have an adverse immigration history. 

  4. You and your family members are required to meet the maintenance requirements, which are specified by the immigration rules. The maintenance funds for your Tier 1 Innovator visa must be kept in the account for a period of 90 days prior to the date of application. 

Demonstrating the £50,000 funding for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

As part of your investment, you will need to demonstrate that the funds are made available to your business investment in the UK. Where your funds for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa is held in the UK, then the evidence to confirm the funding and its source must be shown in a financial institution regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

If the funds are held outside of the UK, then you will need to demonstrate that the funds are being held in a regulated bank. As part of your application, you will need to provide specified documents as listed by the immigration rules. 

In the case of innovator teams, each applicant is required to show they hold £50,000 funds each and will need to be both endorsed by the Endorsing Agency. 

The conditions on the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

The Tier 1 visa comes with a number of conditions which you must adhere to. The use of public funds, no employment as a professional sportsperson and not being engaged in other employments or business are required. 

Curtailing of your Tier 1 Innovator Visa

The cancellation of your visa may happen depending on the reasons to the breach of your conditions or if the Endorsing Body does not believe you are progressing through your business plan. 

We advise that once you receive the letter from the Home Office, please email us a copy to info@icslegal.com with your full contact details, so we can see the reasons to the curtailment of your Tier 1 visa.   

Tier 1 Innovator Visa refusal

Where your application for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa is refused, this can be challenged through by way of an administrative review. The decision made by either the Endorsing Agency or the Home Office, you will be able to challenge the decision. 

The decision letter on the Tier 1 Innovator Visa will set out the reasons to the refusal, which will explain how the decision was reached. Detailed grounds as well as your reasons for challenge should be included in any representation to the Home Office or to the Endorsing Agency. 

You will need to email us a copy of the decision letter to info@icslegal.com, so we can discuss your options if your Tier 1 Visa is refused. 

Extending your Tier 1 Innovator Visa

Where you have decided to extend your Tier 1 Innovator Visa, this will be on the basis of proceeding on a new business idea. However you can still pursue on an existing business, as long as the Endorsing Agency has not withdrawn their endorsement & you are providing evidence demonstrating the business progression. 

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Tier 1 Innovator

You can qualify to apply for indefinite leave to remain under this scheme, once you have completed a period of 3 years continuous residency. There is an absence threshold that must be met by the Tier 1 Innovator Visa holder. 

As part of the indefinite leave to remain application, you will need to meet two of the following requirements and must demonstrate through providing specified evidences:

  1. The funds of £50,000 are invested into the business and these are evident in the application. Your investment should match what was set out in your business plan.

  2. Customers have at least doubled within the most recent 3 years of holding your Tier 1 visa and must be higher than the mean number of customers in comparison with other UK businesses in respect to the products or services you are providing. 

  3. Where the business has engaged in significant research and development activity in the UK and has applied for intellectual property protection. 

  4. Where the business has generated a minimum gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year and evident through financial accounts.

  5. Generating annual income of gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas. 

  6. Creation of 10 full time employments for resident workers. The alternative to this is the creation of 5 full time employments with an average salary of £25,000 a year.

Where there is an innovator team, you will need to each meet the requirements on its own, for example, the investment would have to be at £100,000 if there are 2 persons in a team. 

Frequently asked questions on the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

The following provides some answers to common questions that are asked in respect of the Tier 1 Innovator Visa. 

How long is the visa granted for?

The visa is granted for a period of 3 years and can be extended if required. 

Can I bring dependants under the Tier 1 Innovator Visa?

If you hold a Tier 1 visa, you would be allowed to bring your partner and children in the UK and will need to meet the requirements of the immigration rules.

Taking legal advice on the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

We at ICS Legal will provide guidance and correct advice on the Tier 1 Innovator Visa. We can also assist on the endorsing agency application and complete the visa process both together. 

You can speak to one of our UK Immigration Lawyers on 0207 237 3388 or you can email us at info@icslegal.com if you are considering to apply under the Tier 1 Innovator Visa. 

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