UK innovator visa scheme replaces the Entrepreneur Visa and creates new business visa options.
top London immigration solicitors will tell you that with the government’s release of its 294-page statement of changes to the immigration Rules, the routes to secure a visa as an Entrepreneur in the UK are changing. With the introduction of the new innovator visa, could you be the next Hubert Booth or James Dyson in the field of household appliances or the next Alexander Graham Bell in the field of communications?
The decision to create the new innovator visa does not just affect those who are contemplating applying for or extending a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. If you are thinking about applying for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, advice is needed on whether the new innovator visa would be a good alternative option.
When applicants had the choice of applying for an Exceptional Talent Visa or an Entrepreneur Visa, the Entrepreneur investment requirement of £200,000 was beyond the scope of many. With the reduced investment requirement and lack of need to establish “exceptional talent”, the new innovator Visa may make getting into business in the UK, and securing a visa to do so, a more practical and easier option, in comparison to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa route.
If you are an Entrepreneur who still wants to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, then you are not too late. Currently, you have until the 28 March 2019 to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. It is possible, but far from certain, that the government could extend the deadline to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. The deadline for the expiry of applications for Entrepreneur Visas was timed to coincide with the UK departure from the EU.
As there remains ongoing debate about the timing of Brexit, the best London immigration solicitors speculate that the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa route may remain open until any finalised Brexit divorce date. However, in the opinion of top London immigration solicitors, entrepreneurs cannot afford to delay taking immigration legal advice on the option of submitting a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa application by the 28 March 2019 or the new option of an innovator visa application.
The Home Office has said that the new innovator Visa will open to applicants in April 2019. Accordingly, the best London immigration solicitors recommend that anyone contemplating applying for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa or for the new innovator Visa take specialist immigration legal advice now.
• Endorsement; and
• Meet the investment criteria; and
• Meet the English language test.
Endorsement and the innovator Visa
The best London immigration solicitors advise that all applicants for the new innovator visa have to be endorsed by a Home Office approved business sponsor. The role of the business sponsor is to assess the innovator visa applicant’s business ideas for:
• Innovation; and
• Viability; and
Every innovator Visa applicant will need to submit a business plan and other supporting documents in order for the business sponsor to consider endorsement. The top London immigration solicitors await more information from the Home Office on the identity of the business sponsors but from the applicant’s perspective, the positive is that a business sponsor rather than a Home Office official will consider their innovative business idea.
The innovator Visa route does however make it clear that the applicant must be committed to his or her business plan. They must intend to spend all their working time in the UK on developing the innovation, rather than pursuing it in conjunction with another business or other Employment.
The innovator Visa applicant must maintain contact with the body that endorses them for theinnovator Visa. The rules say regular contact is to be maintained at the six months, one-year and two-year points.
The innovator Visa and assessment of innovation
The best London immigration solicitors anticipate innovators will think that the innovation assessment process sounds as daunting as appearing on an edition of the TV programme, Dragons Den, and being grilled by the likes of Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne or Touker Suleyman.
The key to a new business or product or service being assessed as “innovative” is how it is presented in the required business plan for an innovator visa. Does the business, service or product or how it is marketed have a degree of originality is the critical question.
The innovator Visa and assessment of viability
If an applicant for an innovator Visa watches the Dragons Den, you will know that it is not sufficient for a business idea to be innovative or new to the market. Is the innovation viable, or in other words, will the new widget or device make money? Will the cost of production or marketing make the innovation too expensive to launch on the investment funds available? Does the innovator have the necessary skill set to run the business, keep on top of production or marketing or will there be sufficient cash flow to outsource the elements of the business plan where the innovator does not have prior experience.
The best London immigration solicitors advise innovators and entrepreneurs to invest in business advice and professional business plan assistance to ensure their innovation idea meets the viability criteria to the satisfaction of the endorsing sponsor. Without third party professional input it can be easy to be full of enthusiasm for one’s product or service without paying sufficient attention to costs of production, cash flow projections and gearing levels.
The innovator visa and assessment of scalability
As all business owners know it is all very well to have a brain wave and invent the latest “thing” but is it scalable? Is there sufficient demand or is a product such as a new medical device, worthy as it is, not scalable? Alternately, if the innovation is the latest fad does it have longevity? If it does not, then it will not have scalability.
From the point of view of securing an innovator Visa, scalability is a key consideration as if the business will grow, then its contribution to the creation of jobs in the UK and payment of tax will increase. Any projections, therefore, need to be properly researched and presented so the business sponsor can place reliance on them.
The best London immigration solicitors can work with the innovator and their trusted advisors so that they know the key components for the business plan from the immigrationperspective. They can ensure the essential elements of the innovator visa requirements are presented in a clear and understandable way.
innovator Visa and the investment requirement
The best London immigration solicitors advise that a £50,000 investment in the business from a legitimate source is required.
Many will welcome the reduction in investment funds from £200,000 for most applicants in the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category to £50,000 for the innovator Visa. Furthermore, the need to have investment funds of £50,000 is waived if the applicant is switching from the Start-Up Visa to the innovator Visa.
innovator Visa and the route to settlement
• At least £50,000 has been invested and spent in the business; or
• The business has created the equivalent of at least five full time jobs for resident workers paying at least £25,000 per year or the business has created at least ten full time jobs for resident workers with no salary requirement; or
• The business has generated gross revenue of at least £1 million; or
• The number of customers has at least doubled in three years and is higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main services or products; or
• The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK; or
• The business is generating at least £500,000 in revenue with at least £100,000 from overseas exports.
The top London immigration solicitors think it is important that applicants for the newinnovator Visa and professional business advisors and business plan writers are familiar with the Home Office criteria to convert an innovator Visa to settlement. That is because theinnovator’s business plan can then look at the criteria when addressing the key considerations of innovation, viability and scalability as settlement will be gained by scalability of the business.