UK Entrepreneur/Innovator Route

From 29 March 2019, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category will be closed to new applicants. Instead, new entrepreneurs can apply for a visa under the “Start-up” and/or “Innovator” routes and will require endorsement at the initial, extension, and settlement stages. 

The Start-up route is similar to the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category and is for those starting a new business for the first time in the UK where initial funding is not required. The visa will be valid for 2 years and while it will not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) directly, individuals can apply to continue their business venture(s) and extend their immigration status in the UK under the Innovator route. 

The Innovator route is intended for more experienced business people. Generally, initial capital of £50,000, from any legitimate source is required, but not if the individual is progressing from a Start-up visa and has achieved significant elements of their business plan. If there is more than one team member, they cannot rely on the same £50,000 funds. The Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years. An Innovator can become eligible to apply for ILR after 3 years, in this category, if endorsed and they can meet at least 2 requirements which include:

  1. At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement
  2. The number of the business’ customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services
  3. The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK
  4. The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts
  5. The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas
  6. The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for “resident workers”
  7. The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for “resident workers”, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses)

Individuals who have been granted a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa under the existing rules before 29 March 2019 will not generally be affected by the new changes and will benefit from transitional provisions which will be in place until 5 April 2023 and 5 April 2025 for extension and settlement applications respectively. Some of the new changes will also apply to existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holders, as these are considered to be proportionate.

Individuals granted or applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa or Tier 1 (Investor) visa under the rules prior to/on 28 March 2019, are generally unaffected by the new rules, effective from 29 March 2019. 

Please see 450 Move of Residence for further details regarding the pre 28 March 2019 rules.