Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Closed to New Applicants

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Closed to New Applicants

Following a statement of changes to UK immigration rules issued on 7 March 2019, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa programme was closed to new applicants on 29 March 2019. This has been replaced by the new UK Innovator visa scheme.

Important Information

  • Only entry clearance applications made by people who have held Tier 1 Entrepreneur leave in the past 12 months will be accepted.
  • Applications for leave to remain will only be accepted from applicants who have previously been granted Tier 1 Entrepreneur leave in the past 12 months.
  • Dependents, including partners, spouses or children under 18, can still apply to join applicants with Tier 1 Entrepreneur leave in the UK.
  • Applications for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extensions will remain open until 5 April, 2023. UK settlement applications can be made up until 5 April, 2025.
  • Applications to switch from a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa will be open until 5 July, 2025 if changing to another visa and 5 July, 2027 if applying for UK settlement.

Please contact workpermit.com if you would like help with any of the above.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa has been replaced by the UK Innovator Visa. If you would like to switch, or make a fresh application for the Innovator Visa, contact Workpermit.com

New UK Innovator Visa Overview & Eligibility

UK Innovator Visa Overview and Eligibility

The UK Innovator Visa is a UK visa category usually for experienced business people to set up an innovative business.  The investment requirement is £50,000 and you need to be endorsed by an endorsing body. There is an endorsement requirement which means that this visa may be difficult to qualify for at the moment.

The UK Innovator Visa replaces the Entrepreneur Visa which has now been discontinued by the Home Office

You’re eligible for this visa if:

•             You are not a national of the European Economic Area EEA and Switzerland.

•             You want to set up or run a business in the UK*. To set up or run a business in Britain your business or business idea must be endorsed by an approved body.

*If you want to set up a business in the UK, you must have access to £50,000 (this has been reduced from the £200,000 previously needed under the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa) in investment funds. If you already have a business established in Britain and you have been endorsed for an existing UK visa, no minimum investment funds are required.

The UK Innovator Visa replaces the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category, which closed on 29 March, 2019.

UK immigration rules published on 7 March, 2019 describe the Innovator Visa as:

“A route for more experienced businesspeople looking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. With some exceptions, applicants will have funding to invest in their business. This category may lead to settlement in the UK.”

Settlement

The Home Office says that the new Innovator Visa ‘can’ lead to settlement in the UK (Indefinite leave). However there are tough requirements to meet before this becomes an option. The visa is initially granted for three years. In theory the applicant can apply for settlement after the three years have elapsed but in order to qualify they must again meet the initial ‘scalability’ requirements plus at least two of the following:

a. evidence of the structured planning coming to fruition; and/or

b. evidence that customer base growth has at least doubled in the previous three years and must be higher than comparable UK businesses in the same market; and/or

c. the business has engaged in significant research & development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK and/or

d. the business has generated a minimum £1m gross revenue in it’s previous financial year of accounts; and/or

e. the business has generated a minimum £500,000 gross revenue in it’s previous financial year accounts of which £100,000 comes from exports overseas; and/or

f. the business has created at least 10 full time jobs for resident workers

Innovator Visa Requirements

UK immigration rules specify the following requirements to be eligible for the Innovator Visa:

•             Innovation – Proof of a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

•             Viability – Applicants must be able to demonstrate the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, plus market awareness, to run a business competently.

•             Scalability – Evidence of structured planning and the potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

•             English language – Applicants must prove their English language to level B2 or above

•             Credibility Assessment – The Home Office will carry out additional credibility checks on each applicant and it is not clear yet what they will take into consideration. However negative immigration history and tax debts are likely to influence decisions.

•             Minimum Investment – the applicant must have a minimum £50,000 investment in the business

For more information about the requirements you need to meet to apply for an Innovator Visa, contact us

Your stay in the UK

You can stay for three years if you enter the UK on an Innovator Visa or if you switch to the visa from another valid UK visa.

You can apply to extend your visa for another three years when it is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend.

After five years, you could be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (UK settlement).

Applying for an Innovator Visa UK

You can only apply for the Innovator Visa, online. In addition, you will need to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a UK visa application centre in the country from which you are applying. You must do this to get a biometric residence permit, which is needed as part of your Innovator Visa UK application.

If you think you can qualify for this new immigration category, call us to speak with one of our immigration solicitors, we can help. It can take a minimum of three weeks to receive a decision on your visa application.

At the time of publishing this post the fee for applying for the new UK Innovator visa is £1,021 for the applicant and each dependant if applying from outside the UK or £1,277 for the applicant and each dependant if applying to switch from inside the UK. There are slightly reduced fees for nationals of Macedonia and Turkey. You will also have to pay for the Healthcare Surcharge which is an additional fee. These visa fees change frequently, usually every April and October.

To support your application, you must provide a business plan and supporting documents for endorsement. With our expertise in obtaining business and investment visas for the UK we can help you in writing a business plan. In addition a business sponsor from one of the following approved bodies will need to endorse your business plan and Innovator Visa application:

The Bakery

Seed Camp

Invest Northern Ireland

• Zinc

Deep Science Ventures

Wayra

Ignite

Bethnal Green Ventures

Codebase

Capital Enterprise

Cylon

• Tech X

Seed Haus

Med City

• Scottish Edge

Royal Society Edinburgh

• Tech Nation

• NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator      

Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator

• Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator

Set Squared Bristol

Set Squared Exeter

Set Squared Southampton

Set Squared Surrey

There is also a new visa route for Sole Representatives of Overseas Companies – see our separate post for details

New Sole Representative of an Overseas Company Business Visa Route


On 29 March 2019 the Home Office introduced new Immigration Rules for those who want to run a business in the UK. The new announcements bring into effect Appendix W of the Immigration Rules which includes the Innovator visa and Start-up visa categories.

We covered the Innovator Visa in a previous post. This post provides a brief introduction to the New Sole Representative visa.

The proper name of the new visa route is the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business category. It is not an entirely new route but more of an amendment to an old route which existed in a different format before.

The following are the basic requirements that applicants need to meet as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business:

Entry Requirements for a Sole Representative Visa

  1. In order to enter the UK in this category, an individual will need to be employed by an overseas business in a senior role with full authority to take decisions on behalf of the business. There is no set amount of time for which an applicant must have been employed, though the Home Office expect to see evidence of previous employment with the company, or evidence that the applicant has been specifically hired for the role of setting up a UK branch. Applicants will need to prove that they have some experience of setting up branches, even if this is for other companies.
  2. Another requirement is that the applicant must not be a majority shareholder in the company. Therefore this route will not be appropriate if the applicant is in effect the owner of the business. It needs to be made clear that the applicant is specifically employed by the overseas business to set up a branch in the UK. Therefore individuals who are the sole or majority shareholder of their own business will not be able to take advantage of this route.
  3. In addition it is a requirement that as the main operations of the business must remain outside of the UK. The Home Office will scrutinise the application to ensure that the business is not in effect moving with the applicant.
  4. The Overseas Company must be able to produce evidence that it is a genuine, trading business and that it has no existing branch or subsidiary in the UK. The Home Office will want to see documentary evidence of the economic activities of the business abroad as well as evidence of previous trading. Therefore new businesses will not be able to take advantage of this visa route.
  5. The UK branch or subsidiary and the overseas company must be involved in the same type of business, so it will not possible to come to the UK to run an entirely different type of business.

Some Differences between Sole Representative Visa & Innovator Visa

Unlike the Innovator Visa route, there is no limit to the number of places offered or the fields or profession the business must operate in, as long as it is the same as the overseas company. This means that in effect the Home Office is free to grant as many of these visas as are necessary.

There is no set minimum amount of income or savings that the individual or business must have available to them in order to start the company in the UK. However, it is a requirement that the Home Office be satisfied that there is a genuine intention to open a branch in the UK. It follows that part of that assessment might include consideration of how much opening the UK branch will cost and what level of funds are available to the business. It also follows that applicants in this category would need to show that there are economic prospects to setting up a branch office in the UK.

Applicants must be able to show that they will be able to support & maintain themselves in the UK, and this can be through their expected salary or with reference to savings.

The English Language requirement is at CEFR level A1, which is a lower level than that required for Innovator Visa applicants.

Settlement as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business

The route to settlement for those in the Sole Representative category requires at least five years continuous residence in the UK, as opposed to the three years required for Innovator Visa. However, in reality due to the qualifying criteria for the Innovator category being so strict, the reality may be that many businesses will need far longer than three years, before they are able to meet the criteria for settlement in the Innovator Visa route. Therefore the criteria to settle in the Sole Representative route will be, for most businesses, easier than those for innovators.

Conditions of Stay as a Sole Representative

A Sole Representative is only permitted to work for the business which has sent them to the UK. Applicants are not permitted to take up any other employment or to run any other businesses.

Applicants under the Sole Representative Visa Route are able to bring their dependant family with them. This will usually mean their spouse and children under the age of 18.

If you are considering applying for a visa under the new Sole Representative Visa Route, contact us for a assessment and consultation.

New UK Innovator Visa Overview & Eligibility Criteria

UK Innovator Visa Overview and Eligibility

The UK Innovator Visa is a UK visa category usually for experienced business people to set up an innovative business.  The investment requirement is £50,000 and you need to be endorsed by an endorsing body. There is an endorsement requirement which means that this visa may be difficult to qualify for at the moment.

The UK Innovator Visa replaces the Entrepreneur Visa which has now been discontinued by the Home Office

You’re eligible for this visa if:

•             You are not a national of the European Economic Area EEA and Switzerland.

•             You want to set up or run a business in the UK*. To set up or run a business in Britain your business or business idea must be endorsed by an approved body.

*If you want to set up a business in the UK, you must have access to £50,000 (this has been reduced from the £200,000 previously needed under the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa) in investment funds. If you already have a business established in Britain and you have been endorsed for an existing UK visa, no minimum investment funds are required.

The UK Innovator Visa replaces the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category, which closed on 29 March, 2019.

UK immigration rules published on 7 March, 2019 describe the Innovator Visa as:

“A route for more experienced businesspeople looking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. With some exceptions, applicants will have funding to invest in their business. This category may lead to settlement in the UK.”

Settlement

The Home Office says that the new Innovator Visa ‘can’ lead to settlement in the UK (Indefinite leave). However there are tough requirements to meet before this becomes an option. The visa is initially granted for three years. In theory the applicant can apply for settlement after the three years have elapsed but in order to qualify they must again meet the initial ‘scalability’ requirements plus at least two of the following:

a. evidence of the structured planning coming to fruition; and/or

b. evidence that customer base growth has at least doubled in the previous three years and must be higher than comparable UK businesses in the same market; and/or

c. the business has engaged in significant research & development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK and/or

d. the business has generated a minimum £1m gross revenue in it’s previous financial year of accounts; and/or

e. the business has generated a minimum £500,000 gross revenue in it’s previous financial year accounts of which £100,000 comes from exports overseas; and/or

f. the business has created at least 10 full time jobs for resident workers

Innovator Visa Requirements

UK immigration rules specify the following requirements to be eligible for the Innovator Visa:

•             Innovation – Proof of a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

•             Viability – Applicants must be able to demonstrate the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, plus market awareness, to run a business competently.

•             Scalability – Evidence of structured planning and the potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

•             English language – Applicants must prove their English language to level B2 or above

•             Credibility Assessment – The Home Office will carry out additional credibility checks on each applicant and it is not clear yet what they will take into consideration. However negative immigration history and tax debts are likely to influence decisions.

•             Minimum Investment – the applicant must have a minimum £50,000 investment in the business

For more information about the requirements you need to meet to apply for an Innovator Visa, contact us

Your stay in the UK

You can stay for three years if you enter the UK on an Innovator Visa or if you switch to the visa from another valid UK visa.

You can apply to extend your visa for another three years when it is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend.

After five years, you could be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (UK settlement).

Applying for an Innovator Visa UK

You can only apply for the Innovator Visa, online. In addition, you will need to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a UK visa application centre in the country from which you are applying. You must do this to get a biometric residence permit, which is needed as part of your Innovator Visa UK application.

If you think you can qualify for this new immigration category, call us to speak with one of our immigration solicitors, we can help. It can take a minimum of three weeks to receive a decision on your visa application.

At the time of publishing this post the fee for applying for the new UK Innovator visa is £1,021 for the applicant and each dependant if applying from outside the UK or £1,277 for the applicant and each dependant if applying to switch from inside the UK. There are slightly reduced fees for nationals of Macedonia and Turkey. You will also have to pay for the Healthcare Surcharge which is an additional fee. These visa fees change frequently, usually every April and October.

To support your application, you must provide a business plan and supporting documents for endorsement. With our expertise in obtaining business and investment visas for the UK we can help you in writing a business plan. In addition a business sponsor from one of the following approved bodies will need to endorse your business plan and Innovator Visa application:

The Bakery

Seed Camp

Invest Northern Ireland

• Zinc

Deep Science Ventures

Wayra

Ignite

Bethnal Green Ventures

Codebase

Capital Enterprise

Cylon

• Tech X

Seed Haus

Med City

• Scottish Edge

Royal Society Edinburgh

• Tech Nation

• NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator      

Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator

• Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator

Set Squared Bristol

Set Squared Exeter

Set Squared Southampton

Set Squared Surrey

Immigration policy on assessing age of young asylum seekers found to be unlawful by Court of Appeal

Coram Children’s Legal Centre (CCLC) has welcomed the judgement from the Court of Appeal in BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department[2019] EWCA Civ 872 finding Home Office policy regarding young asylum seekers and age disputes to be unlawful.

CCLC has repeatedly highlighted its concerns to the Home Office regarding its policy allowing for a child to be treated as an adult if their ‘physical appearance / demeanour very strongly suggests that they are significantly over 18 years of age’ and detained. CCLC has cited research, guidance and case law emphasising that physical appearance is not an accurate basis for the assessment of a person’s age because within different ethnic and national groups, there are wide variations in young people’s growth and ages of puberty. It is a recognised fact that young people may look and act older than they are because of their experiences in their country of origin, or difficult journey to reach the UK.

The case before the Court of Appeal involved a young Eritrean youth who arrived in the UK in March 2014 and claimed he was 16 years old. Immigration officers were of the view that he was substantially over 18 and he was held in an adult immigration detention centre until September 2014, and again between January and March 2015. In September 2015 an assessment carried out by two independent social workers concluded that his date of birth to be as claimed by him on arrival.

The Court of Appeal highlighted the damaging effects of children being detained and that the detention of a child is ‘positively unlawful’. It found that the original policy at the time of detention, as well as the amended policy, regarding the assessment of the age of young asylum-seekers who claim to be under 18, “does not properly identify the margin of error inherent in the conduct of initial [age] assessments… [and] creates a significantly greater risk than would otherwise arise of children being unlawfully detained as adults.”

You can download the full judgement from the following link:

BF (Eritrea) v Secretary of State for the Home Department[2019] EWCA Civ 872