Start-Up & Innovator Visa: Endorsing Bodies & Endorsing Criteria

On 29th March 2019, the Home Office finally issued the guidance listing the authorised endorsing bodies for the new Tier 1 Innovator and start-up visa.

Only organisations enumerated in the list will be authorised to release an endorsement letter for tier 1 innovator and start-up applicants.

The guidance refers to the following organisations for

Tier 1 Innovator Visa:

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.

Start-up Visa:

Business endorsing bodies: 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 •Imperial College London • Keele University • King’s College London • Kingston University • Lancaster University • Leeds Arts University • Leeds Beckett University • Liverpool John Moores University • London Business School • London Metropolitan University • London School of Economics and Political Science • London South Bank University • Loughborough University • Manchester Metropolitan University • Middlesex University • Newcastle University • Northern School of Contemporary Dance • Norwich University of the Arts • Nottingham Trent University • Oxford Brookes University • Plymouth College of Art • Queen Mary University of London • Queen’s University Belfast • Ravensbourne University London • Regent’s University London • Roehampton University • Royal Academy of Music • Royal Agricultural University • Royal College of Art • Royal Holloway and Bedford New College • Sheffield Hallam University • SOAS, University of London • Solent University • Swansea University • Teesside University • The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts • University of Reading • University of South Wales • University of Southampton • University of St Andrews • University of Stirling • University of Strathclyde • University of Sunderland • University of Surrey • University of Sussex • University of the Arts London • University of the West of England

HEI endorsing bodies: • Anglia Ruskin University • Arts University Bournemouth • Aston University • Bangor University • Bath Spa University • Birmingham City University • Bournemouth University • BPP University Limited • Brunel University London • Cardiff Metropolitan University • Cardiff University • City, University of London • Contemporary Dance Trust • Coventry University • Cranfield University • De Montfort University • Edinburgh Napier University • Falmouth University • Florida State University International Programs Association UK • Girne American University Canterbury • Glasgow Caledonian University • Goldsmiths University of London • Guildhall School of Music & Drama • Heriot-Watt University • The Robert Gordon University • The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama • The University of Buckingham • The University of Cambridge • The University of Northampton • The University of Salford • The University Of Sheffield • The University of West London • University College London • University for the Creative Arts • University of Aberdeen • University of Bath • University of Birmingham • University of Bradford • University of Brighton • University of Bristol • University of Central Lancashire • University of Chester • University of Dundee • University of Durham • University of East Anglia • University of East London • University of Edinburgh • University of Essex • University of Exeter • University of Glasgow • University of Greenwich • University of Hertfordshire Higher Education Corporation • University of Huddersfield • University of Hull • University of Kent • University of Leeds • University of Leicester • University of Lincoln • University of Liverpool • University of Manchester • University of Northumbria at Newcastle • University of Nottingham • University of Oxford • University of Plymouth • University of Portsmouth • University of the West of Scotland • University of Ulster • University of Wales Trinity Saint David – Carmarthen Campus • University of Warwick • University of Westminster • University of Wolverhampton • University of York • York St John University.

The guidance also stipulates that the endorsement will take the form of a letter, including a secure reference number and the applicant’s personal details, as well as confirmation that they meet the endorsement criteria.

1. Start-up: this type ofendorsement will be recognise if the person is an early-stage entrepreneur and must not have previously:

  • established a business in the UK
  • had 2 years’ leave in the Start-up and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories

2. Innovator – new businesses: this type of endorsement will be released if the person can access to £50,000 funds to invest in their business.

They must either:

  • • have not previously had leave in the Innovator category; or
  • be pursuing a different business venture from the one that was assessed in their previous Innovator endorsement

Applicants can receive this type of endorsement if they last had leave in the Start-up category and are still pursuing the same business venture as in their Start-up endorsement.

3. Innovator – same business as previous endorsement: this type of endorsement is for applicants who have previously had leave in either the Start-up or Innovator categories and are still pursuing the same business venture as their previous endorsement. Please note that applicants who were previously endorsed in the Start-up category can be endorsed under either option 2 or 3, depending on which criteria they meet.

4. Innovator – settlement in the UK: this type of endorsement is for applicants who have spent at least 3 years in the Innovator category and have achieved a level of business success which meets the endorsement criteria for settlement. Please note that time spent in the Start-up category does not count towards the 3 years.

In terms of assessment criteria, the guidance slightly differentiate between the requirements for a start-up business evaluation and the innovator assessment.

Specifically, the endorsement criteria are:

Start-up:

  • Innovation: Does the applicant have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?
  • Viability: Does the applicant have, or are they actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business?
  • Scalability: Is there evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets?

Innovator – new business:

  • Innovation: Does the applicant have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?
  • Viability: Does the applicant have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business?
  • Scalability: Is there evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets?

The letter must also confirm that the endorsing body is reasonably satisfied the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing their business ventures. Applicants relying on this type of endorsement must have £50,000 of available funds to invest in their business. The letter does not have to confirm that they have funding available, however, the applicant will need to submit less evidence to the Home Office when they make their visa application where the endorsement letter confirms also the access to funds.

Innovator – same business as previous endorsement:

For this type of endorsement to be given, the letter must confirm that the endorsing body is satisfied the applicant has made significant progress in developing their business, as follows:

  • The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.
  • The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.
  • The business is active and trading.
  • The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.
  • The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

The letter must also confirm that the applicant will continue to spend their entire working time in the UK on developing their business ventures. Applicants do not need to show evidence of business funding at this stage, even if they have progressed directly to this stage from a Start-up visa and have not previously had to show evidence of funding.

Further information

Should you wish to receive further information regarding the new route, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 3693 7591 or send us an email at enquiries@quantumlawassociates.com.