UK Tier 1 Innovator Visa

Many people wish to move to the UK for the purposes of buying into or opening a business. If this is the case for you a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa may be a good option for you.
You can find the latest information on the new Innovator Visa route announced by the government as a replacement of the Entrepreneur Visa as a path to start a business in the United Kingdom. Until April applicants can still apply for the Entrepreneur Visa and should call us to decide whether to apply now or in April under the new system on 0330 3800 599.

Innovative Visa

The Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

“The UK can be proud that we are a leading nation when it comes to tech and innovation, but we want to do more to attract businesses to the UK and our migration system plays a key part in that.

That’s why I am pleased to announce a new visa for people wanting to start a business in the UK. This will help to ensure we continue to attract the best global talent and maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs.

This initiative builds on other recent reforms to the visa system – including doubling the number of visas available on the Exceptional Talent route to 2,000 per year – and shows the government’s commitment to making the UK a dynamic, open, globally-trading nation.”

The expanded route will launch in Spring 2019, further details will be announced in due course.

What makes the UK desirable to entrepreneurs?

The UK has long been a very desirable place to start a business and has attracted entrepreneurs from around the world. Historically this has been due to the strong economy, the government’s respect for industry and private property in general, and of course the long-term stability of the currency. Investments into UK land and businesses tend to be reliable, especially compared to other economies across Europe.

Qualifying for the Tier 1 Innovator Visa

First, though, there are a few requirements.  You cannot be from anywhere in the EEA (The European Economic Area), nor from Switzerland. Of course, EEA and Swiss nationals have other routes to live and work in the UK. You must be fluent in written and spoken English. You must be 16 years old or older. Eligibility is points-based. You must score 95 or more points on the official Home Office Points Calculator.


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Of course, there is also an investment requirement. Assuming that you are already present in the UK on a Tier 1 (post-study worker) visa, you must be in a position to invest at least £50,000 in your business. These finds must be held in regulated financial institutions (such as reputable banks), and must be ‘disposable’, meaning you can actually spend them. You must also show that you can support yourself whilst you are in the UK.

The funds can be held in your name, or under certain circumstances by a third party but available for your use. They can be in a bank, building society or other regulated financial institution, either in the UK or abroad. It is possible to aggregate funds from several sources, so long as you can prove you have real access to all of the sources.

Documenting your eligibility

Applying for a Tier 1 Innovator Visa is a fairly straightforward process. However, you should not begin the process until you have all the necessary documents to hand. At a minimum, you’ll need:

  • A valid passport (or similar travel documentation)
  • Evidence of your investment funds or the investments you’ve already made
  • A credible business plan
  • Evidence that you can support yourself in the UK
  • Certified criminal records from any country in which you’ve lived for more than 1 year in the last 10 years
  • Documentation that you pass the English language requirements mentioned earlier.
  • If you are from any of certain countries, you must also provide tuberculosis test results.

In all likelihood, some or all of these documents will be in a language other than English or Welsh. If so, you’ll need to provide a certified translation into English or Welsh for all such documents.


What are the Requirements for the New UK Innovator Visa?

The full details of the new UK Innovator Visa have not yet been released. The government 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.

How do I get endorsed for the new UK Innovator Visa?

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 business sponsor and will be mandatory for all applicants. Unfortunately, there are no details on who the sponsors are and what additional criteria they will apply.

We wait to hear whether the governments approach after Brexit is concluded will affect their plans to push forward with the tier 1theirvation visa route.

Contact us for more information on 0330 3800 599, send us an email on or complete the contact form at the top right of this page.

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