Towards the end of March 2019, the Innovator visa was launched to replace the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category for the entry of new applicants. The innovator visa allows those experienced businesspeople to enter and remain in the UK to conduct business activity. This is subject to being endorsed by an approved endorsing body under W5.1 of the Immigration Rules. A full list of endorsement bodies is provided on the gov.uk website. Applicants are required to read on the relevant endorsing bodies descriptions and websites in order to judge suitability before contacting.
Before the meeting, the applicant should have their business plan ready for the endorsing body to verify. Once approved, the endorsing body will issue a letter of endorsement.
Rule W5.2 also requires for an endorsement letter confirming that the endorsing body is satisfied on the following:
- Innovation: The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
- Viability: The applicant has, or is actively developing the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
- Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and potential for job creation and growth into national markets.
The endorsing body also needs to be satisfied that the applicant will spend majority of their time in the UK developing the business venture as employment is not permitted.
It is to be noted that the Innovator visa application must be made within 3 months of receiving the endorsement letter, otherwise, it will expire. If the visa application is rejected, the same endorsing letter can be used if it hasn’t expired.
Under W6.4 of the Immigration Rules states applicants must have at least £50,000 to invest into a new business. This can either be confirmed by the endorsing body in the endorsing letter. Otherwise, evidence of the investment funds. This rule also states that if the business venture has one or more applicants, they must each have £50,000 to invest in order to qualify for the Innovator visa.