on May 18, 2022
Read Time: 10 Minutes
With the conclusion of the Brexit transition period at the end of December 2020, the UK finally completed its process of departing from the European Union (EU). In accordance with the seismic change that Brexit represents, the Government has been looking to make changes to the immigration system, representing the biggest shakeup in this regard for more than a decade.
The Home Office therefore took steps to change and end some visas and routes to enter the UK. In April 2019, the Home Office replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa with the new UK Innovator visa.
However, the Innovator visa could also be changing soon, which may have implications for would-be applicants. Here are the looming changes of which those considering an application for this visa should be aware.
With the post-Brexit immigration landscape in mind, in 2019, the UK Government wished to optimise its available visa routes to encourage the establishment of innovative companies in the UK. This led it to make a change to the Entrepreneur visa, creating a new Tier 1 Innovator visa.
One of the biggest changes is that this new visa now falls under the points-based system, so applicants must achieve a certain level of points to be considered for granting the application.
The Innovator document published on 22nd November 2021 states that: “All applicants must meet the points requirement (70 points required). Applicants can score points under either the requirements for new businesses or the same business. Applicants can only score points under either the new business or same business requirements, they cannot combine points from both. All applicants must also score points for English language and finances”.
There are a number of requirements that must be met before the application can be granted, which will be covered in more detail further down this article.
Once the Brexit process concluded, people from countries in Europe were no longer able to enter the UK without a visa if they wished to set up a new business. However, for those that started living in the UK by 31st December 2020, there is a way that they can stay without the need for a visa.
Citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, who began to live in the UK by 31st December 2020, may be entitled to apply to the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.
Although for most people, the deadline to apply for the scheme was 30th June 2021, there are still a few exceptions that can be used if a person meets the criteria.
As a side note, Irish citizens do not need to apply for a UK visa or to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in order to enter, live and work in the UK.
If entrepreneurs wish to enter the UK and apply for the Innovator visa in order to start a business in the UK, they will be expected to meet certain requirements. These are designed to show the Home Office that applicants are committed to starting their own business, and have the financial backing to support themselves throughout the course of the visa.
The requirements include:
As well as these requirements, the business that the applicant is setting up, must exhibit the following qualities.
The business plan that is submitted must show that the idea is original and would have a unique benefit to the market and meet needs that are evident in the market.
The applicant must show that they have the relevant knowledge and skills to run a business of this type. This could take the form of qualifications or other documents showing the skills needed.
It is important that the applicant shows a plan for the growth and development of the business and how they plan to create jobs now and in the future.
If all of the above requirements are met, then the applicant needs to apply for an Endorsement from an approved Endorsing Body.
It is the role of the Endorsing Body to assess the business that is being submitted and see if it matches the criteria. If it does, then the Endorsing Body will issue the applicant with an endorsement letter.
This Endorsing Body will need regular contact from the applicant after the Endorsement is granted, to show the business’s progress and that it is still active and trading.
An Endorsement cannot be accepted by the Home Office for the Innovator visa application if:
To be eligible for entry clearance under the Innovator visa route, the applicant needs to satisfy the following criteria:
For those people that are already in the UK when they apply, then they are applying for permission to stay. To do this, they must not have been granted permission as:
It is also important that the applicant has not been granted permission outside of the Immigration Rules, and is not being refused leave to enter or on immigration bail.
Another requirement for the successful granting of the Innovator visa is reaching the expected number of points – under the requirement “the applicant must be awarded 70 points from the table below; of which 50 must either be under the new business criteria or under the same business criteria, but not both”.
The points relate to the conditions of the visa being met as those mentioned above.
The last two relating to the English language and finances need to be met or the application will be refused.
Since the Innovator visa was introduced, there have been changes made to some of the eligibility criteria.
This also means that the Home Office caseworker can refuse the visa application if they are not satisfied the Endorsing Body’s criteria has been met.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Budget on 27th October 2021 outlined new changes to the Innovator visa requirements. Previously, there was a requirement for the applicant to have access to £50,000 in investment funds. However, under the new changes, applicants will no longer need to have at least £50,000 to apply for the Innovator visa. The Endorsing Body will not have to be satisfied that the money that is available will be sufficient to grow the business.
If the applicant is successful in their application on the Innovator visa route, then they will be subject to a certain period of time that the visa is granted, along with conditions while the visa is active.
When the expiry date of the Innovator visa approaches, there is an option to extend the visa if the following requirements are met.
The extension of an Innovator visa can take up to eight weeks, so it is important that the application is made well within the time of expiry of the old visa.
Although the process seems long and complicated, there are ways that you can get the help and assistance you need to make a successful application.
If you are unsure how to proceed with an application, or you need the latest information and tailored advice, please feel free to contact us. We can help you with guidance on your own circumstances and needs as a business or individual. Simply call Cranbrook Legal today, on 0208 215 0053.