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Changes to Tier 1- New ‘Innovator’ and ‘Start-up’ Visas in 2019

During the first quarter of 2019, the Home Office outlined a series of important changes to Tier 1 of the PBS. The most pressing of which were as follows:

  • Withdrawal of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category as of March 29
  • Withdrawal of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa category as of July 5
  • Introduction of the new ‘Start-up’ and ‘Innovator’ visas as of March 30
  • New restrictions on Tier 1 (Investor) category applications and acquisition

Transitional arrangements have been put in place for individuals who submitted their Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applications prior to midnight on March 28, which will enable qualifying applicants to apply for permit extensions until April 5, 2023. Those covered under these transitional arrangements will also be able to submit settlement applications until April 5, 2025.

Applications submitted after the March 29 deadline that would previously have fallen under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) should be redirected to the new ‘Innovator’ visa category.

Anyone who submitted an application via the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) pathway before midnight on July 4, 2019 will be able to apply for a switch to the new Start-up visa or the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category upon expiration of their initial visa, until July 5, 2021. Individuals who submitted new clearance applications on or after the July 4 deadline are encouraged to use the new ‘Start-up’ visa pathway.

The New Tier 1 ‘Innovator’ Visa

The government’s official documentation on the new Tier 1 ‘Innovator’ visa program outlines several key differences from the existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route, which include the following:

  • The introduction of a new expert endorsement requirement, which means that the applicant will first need to receive the endorsement of a UK government approved body, in order to verify the viability, scalability and appropriateness of the business. The approved body that provides the endorsement has the power to withdraw their endorsement in any time, which will result in curtailment.
  • The new innovator visa category is aimed primarily at experienced entrepreneurs and businesspersons. Along with the official endorsement of a UK government approved body, the applicant is required to invest a minimum of £50,000 in their business from a legal and provable source. This is a significant reduction from the £200,000 minimum investment requirements in the previous Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category.
  • The new route extends the required pre-investment holding period for funds from 90 days to 2 years.
  • Under the new Tier 1 ‘Innovator’ visa pathway, the individual can apply for indefinite leave to remain after three years – reduced from the previous five-year minimum residency requirement. This three-year reduced residency requirement is dependent on the applicant meeting any two of the following criteria:
    • A minimum investment of £50,000 in their business and evidence of these funds being actively used to grow and develop their business.
    • Doubling the number of customers using the business.
    • Applying for intellectual property protection after research and development activity.
    • Generating minimum annual gross revenues of £1 million.
    • Creating a minimum of 10 full time jobs for legal UK residents.

The New Tier 1 ‘Start-up’ visa

The most important differences between the existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) pathway and the new Start-up visa include the following:

  • The new Start-up visa pathway is open to anyone looking to establish a new business in the United Kingdom for the first time, who don’t necessarily need to be graduates.
  • Initial funding requirements have been removed, though applicants require endorsement.
  • Successful applicants will be granted a maximum period of leave of two years – one year more than the previous Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) pathway.

The Tier 1 (Investor) Visa

Alterations to the Tier 1 (investor) visa pathway include an extension of the duration for which funds must be held prior the application’s submission – up from 90 days to 2 years. Buying of UK National debt in order to qualify as an investor is no longer permitted, while the purchase of UK government bonds is no longer considered a qualifying investment.

Individuals with Tier 1 (investor) visas can apply to extend their visa until 05 April 2023 and will have until 05 April 2025 to apply for settlement. Successful Tier 1 (Investor) migrants submitting extension applications from overseas will be granted 2 years and 4 months leave, up slightly from the current 2 years.

Expert Advice…

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your eligibility or status under the new rules, we’re standing by to help. Contact a member of the team at Aristone Solicitors today to book your obligation-free consultation with a member of the team.

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