Introducing the new Start-up and Innovator Visas - Important changes to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa

From 29 March 2019, the Home Office has implemented important changes to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa.

A person who wants to set up or run a business in the UK might now need to apply for an Innovator visa or a Start-up visa. The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa no longer exists. For those who have already applied under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) by 28 March 2019, there will be transitional arrangements which will permit extension applications under this route to be made until 5 April 2023 and settlement applications until 05 April 2025.

The two new Visas are intended as a replacement to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa route with the expectation that they will, as Sajid Javid declared at the time, ensure that the UK can attract the “best global talent and maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs”.

One of the criteria for the new Visas is that the applicant’s business venture meets all of the requirements set out below:

  • 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 of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

This is clearly a significant step up from the requirements of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa which required only a “genuine and credible” idea.

All business ideas will be assessed by UK government independent endorsement bodies. The government also wants the endorsement bodies have a mentorship role for the entrepreneurs they support. The Home Office wants the endorsing body to be satisfied that the applicant has made “reasonable progress” with their business idea and is continuing to work on it, or is pursuing different business ideas that are also innovative, viable and scalable.

The good news is that for the start-up visa do not need to show that they already have money to put into the business to secure the visa.