Entrepreneurial Visa

What are the visa options for applicants wishing to come to the UK as an entrepreneur ?

Whether you apply for an extension of your application under your existing route or apply under the new route will depend on your individual circumstances.

Eligibility

General Requirements:

  • This application is only suitable for applicants from outside the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland.
  •  Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Meet the English language requirement to CEFR level B2 (exceptions applying depending on your level of education/ country of origin or whether you have previously successfully applied).
  • Tuberculosis test results (only for applicants from specified countries).
  • You must demonstrate that you sufficient funds for maintenance which is £945.00 for consecutive period of a minimum of 90 days.
  • Your immigration history will be carefully considered by the Home Office for any breaches of the UK immigration rules (which applies to all applications).
  • Application must not fall under any of the General Grounds for Refusal as stipulated in the UK immigration rules.

The UK immigration rules differentiate applicants who are applying to establish a new business or wish to continue with operating the ‘same business’. Hence, the criteria is different depending on your circumstances. Further, if you are planning on coming to the UK to establish a business for the first time, the ‘new business’ criteria will apply to you.

Process for an applicant looking to establish
a ‘new business’.

Stage 1: The applicant

Before an application can be submitted, the first step requires the applicant to submit a business plan which will be assessed by a UK government authorised endorser (business sponsor).
The Home Office have appointed a number of endorsing bodies.

The applicant will be required to meet the below requirements:
It is imperative to note that all applicants are required to secure endorsement from an authorised body (business sponsor) listed by the government before an application can even be submitted. The business sponsor is granted permission by the government to assess the viability of the business plan. The sponsor must assess the business plan against mandatory criteria which can be broken down into 4 main categories: innovation, viability, scalability and commitment.

  • Innovation: The applicant will be required to demonstrate that their business idea is genuine and is clearly original, which meets the UK market requirements and or creates a competitive advantage.
  • Viability: The endorser will assess the applicant to measure their aptitude to launch and operate a successful enterprise. The applicant will be required to evidence that they have the necessary experience, commercial awareness and overall skill level to successfully run the business.
  • Scalability: This is a key element of the application. The endorser will assess the potential of job creation both domestically and internationally and will carefully consider the potential contribution to the UK economy.
  • Commitment: Your level of commitment will of course be a factor. The endorser will need to be sufficiently confident that you plan to commit your working efforts to this venture full-time.

Stage 2: Capital Investment

- Minimum investment capital of £50,000. The investment funds will of course need to be evidenced from a legitimate source. In comparison to the previous Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route, the UK Innovator visa scheme requirements are significantly different to its predecessor (Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme). It is notable that the new route requires a significantly lower capital investment. The lower capital requirement is likely to increase number of applications, which clearly suggests that the entrepreneur’s prior experience and viability of the applicant’s business plan will differentiate your application from other candidates.

- If two people are applying for an innovator visa for the purpose of joining the same business, please note the minimum investment capital of £50,000 cannot be shared (new rule).

Stage 3: Obtaining endorsement letter

The applicant will be required to acquire an endorsement letter from an approved endorser. As mentioned above, the endorser will measure the business plan against the criteria listed above (innovation, viability, scalability, commitment). The endorser will provide details pertaining to the applicant and the business plan. It is required that the endorsement letter is dated within 3 months from the date of the application.
Furthermore, the endorsement letter must also stipulate the allocation of the business funds. For example, the endorser must confirm in the letter if they are providing the funds or whether the funds have already been invested in the business and must verify if the investment funds are available to the applicant.

Application Fee

Excluding legal fee
Same fee as entrepreneur visa (£1,021.00).

Our Legal Fee

Some law firms are currently waiting for further detailed guidance from the Home Office before they submit an application.

Health Surcharge

You will have to pay the UK Health Surcharge of £400.00, at the time of the application.

Grant of Visa

If you your endorsement is granted and the visa is subsequently approved, you will be initially granted 3 years of leave (granted 3 years if you apply from the same visa category or not). Following this initial period, the applicant may apply for an extension of their leave providing they continue to meet all of the requirements. There is currently no limit to number of times that you can extend your visa. Following 5 years under this category, the applicant may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.

UK START-UP VISA

Although the requirements for this visa option are similar to the innovator route, it is important to note that the Start-Up Visa route offers 2 years of leave and applicants cannot directly progress to Settlement in the UK, but there is the option to switch to the Innovator visa route.

Who is the Start-up visa suitable for ?

This category is distinctly suitable for candidates looking to establish a ‘new business’ in the UK for the first time. Further, the business plan will be measured against criteria to assess how innovate the idea is, its scalability, viability, and credibility. Further, the business plan will be required to be approved by a government listed endorsing body. Please note the requirements and processes pertaining to endorsement are the same as the UK Innovator Visa Route.

FAQ

1. How long will the application take to process ? Read More

Minimum 3 weeks, but may take longer depending on who your application is endorsed by.

2. What is the fee for the application ? Read More

The current fee is set at the same rate as the entrepreneurial visa which is £1023.00

3. Is there a limit to the number of times you can extend your Innovator visa? Read More

Currently the answer is NO.

4. What will I need to support my application? Read More

It is essential that you have a business plan which is approved by the UK government endorsed sponsor and all necessary documentation such as proof of funds.

5. Is this application suitable for EEA nationals ? Read More

No. this application is only suitable for applicants from outside the EEA and Switzerland.

6. Who can apply for this visa ? Read More

You can apply for this visa if you are switching from another category or are a first time applicant.

7. Do I have to be the sole founder (owner) of the business ? Read More

No. You may have partners who also hold equity in the business.

8. Where do the funds for investment need to be held ? Read More

The funds are required to be either held in a UK regulated financial institution or must be transferable to a UK regulated institution.

9. Can the initial investment capital be shared between co-founders who will all be applying under the same visa category ? Read More

No. The initial investment capital requirement cannot be shared.

10. Where do the investment funds need to be held, when the application is being submitted ? Read More

The investment funds need to be held in: a) The account of the applicant b) Already invested in the applicant’s business provided this investment was made in the 24 months period prior to submitting the application, c) Held in the account of a third party and available to the applicant.

11. What are the consequences if your endorsement is withdrawn ? Read More

Your visa may be reduced and you would be required to seek legal advice to possibly explore the option of applying for another endorsement.

12. Can I bring dependent(s) via this application ? Read More

Yes, subject to satisfying certain requirements.

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