Back in 2018, the government said that they would be introducing the Start-up visa. The March 2019 statement of changes to the Immigration Rules and guidance from the Home Office on the new Start-up visa, gives top London immigration solicitors more information about the new visa category.
In addition to the Start-up visa, there is also the new Innovator visa for more experienced entrepreneurs. Some of the requirements to apply for an Innovator visa and a Start-up visa are the same and then the two new visa categories have specific requirements that applicants need to meet.
The new Start-up visa replaces the Tier 1
) visa. The main and obvious difference between the new Start-up visa and the Tier 1
) visa is that under the Start-up visa an applicant does not need to be a graduate or from an academic background. The focus on the start-up business and the individual’s business attributes, rather than the academic qualifications of the applicant, has been widely welcomed by the best London immigration solicitors
The Start-up visa general requirements
In order to be eligible to apply for either a Start-up visa or Innovator
visa, an applicant has to meet the Home Office general requirements. These are:
• At least 18 years of age; and
• Not already in the UK in breach of Immigration
• Meets the English language test requirement - the requirement has increased from B1 to B2 on the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language and Learning. A higher standard of English language is therefore expected in comparison to the standard required for the Tier 1
) visa scheme; and
• Have Maintenance Funds – the maintenance fund requirements are set depending on the visa application; and
• Meet the genuine entrepreneur
test – this is a credibility assessment by the Home Office that is understandably rigorous.
In addition to the Home Office requirements, an applicant for a Start-up visa will first have to apply for and secure endorsement from an appropriate Endorsing Body. If the endorsement is obtained, then stage two is the application to the Home Office for a caseworker to assess whether the applicant meets the general requirements and genuine entrepreneur
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Our Legal 500 recommended central London OTS Solicitors specialise in Business Immigration Visas
and can help you secure a Start-up visa or advise you on your switch and settlement options if you are an existing Tier 1
) visa holder. Call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how our experienced London Immigration
law solicitors can help you.
• They genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, the work or business activity in the UK stated in the visa application documents; and
• They do not intend to work in the UK in breach of the Immigration
The Start-up visa – who is it for?
Investment funds and applying for a Start-up visa
There is no requirement to have a set amount of investment funds to invest in the start-up business in order to be eligible to apply for a Start-up visa. The applicant does not need any funds other than the £945 maintenance fund to enter the Start-up category. However, the applicant will need to be able to prove to the Endorsing Body that the business is not only innovative but also viable and accordingly has cash flow.
If an applicant decides, he or she wants to switch from a Start-up visa to an Innovator
visa the applicant has to show that they have £50,000 of available investment funds for the business before he or she can switch from Start-up to Innovator
Can an applicant apply for a Start-up visa with other applicants?
As the Start-up visa caters for new business owners, it will be a relief for many applicants to hear that a Start-up visa applicant does not have to be the sole owner or founder of the business or company. An applicant can apply for a Start-up visa as a member of a team of entrepreneurs.
The Start-up visa and endorsement by an endorsing body
To apply for a Start-up visa an applicant must first be endorsed by a recognised Endorsing Body.
For an applicant to secure endorsement by the Endorsing Body they must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea. The best London immigration solicitors
see it as a positive that the business idea is considered for endorsement by an organisation that is business orientated, rather than assessed by a Home Office official.
The top London immigration solicitors
advise that whilst the business idea does not have to be unique it must be genuine and the business plan must show that the business idea is innovative and that there is either an existing or a new market for the product or service.
It makes commercial sense that not only does there need to be a good and innovative idea behind the business idea but the business also has to be viable. Viability means that the applicant must have some of the skills necessary to make the business a financial success. For a Start-up visa, an applicant is not expected to have all the skills and experience required but he or she will need to show, either from their background or business plan, how they will acquire those skills.
The final requirement is scalability of the business idea. An applicant has to be able to show that with appropriate time and marketing the business can grow and reach national markets as well as create jobs.
Applicants may think that the requirements of innovation, viability and scalability are a tall order to meet but that is where professional advice from trusted business advisors and getting expert help with the preparation of the written business plan can pay dividends for the Start-up visa applicant.
Some may question what the requirements are for an Innovator
visa if an applicant for a Start-up visa has to show business attributes of innovation, viability and scalability. For an Innovator
application, the expectations on the visa applicant are higher. He or she will need to be able to show that they have the experience and skills to run the business and that they can scale the business up with additional job creation and growth into international markets.
An applicant for a Start-up visa also has to satisfy the Endorsing Body that they will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on the business, so it is not a part time hobby business.
Who can endorse a Start-up visa application?
The Home Office has released a list of approved Endorsing Bodies who can endorse an applicant for a Start-up visa.
The Home Office Immigration
Rules state that an Endorsing Body must be either:
• A higher education institution in the UK that gets public funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council or the Department of Employment
and Learning in Northern Ireland. The institution must have an established process for identifying and developing entrepreneurs; or
• An organisation that has an established record of helping UK entrepreneurs or is a new body set up by another organisation that has a proven record.
Settlement in the UK after a Start-up visa
If an applicant secures a Start-up visa it will not currently lead to settlement, or at least not directly.
A Start-up visa lasts for two years. A Start-up visa applicant can then move onto an Innovator
visa if they meet the Innovator
visa requirements. In time, the Innovator
visa can lead to settlement.
The Start-up visa – for or against?
The preliminary view of the best London immigration solicitors
is that on balance the Start-up visa category seems to be a good replacement for the Tier 1
) route. That is because it is not limited to graduates and those who are not academic but to anyone with an innovative business idea. What is more the Endorsing Body, rather than a Home Office caseworker with no experience of business, will be the agency that gives the green light to the business plan.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
Our Legal 500 recommended central London OTS Solicitors specialise in Business Immigration Visas and can help you secure a Start-up visa or advise you on your switch and settlement options.
With a vast amount of experience in representing Start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, our London immigration solicitors understand the needs of entrepreneurs for no nonsense Immigration advice tailored to personal and business needs.
Call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how our experienced London Immigration law solicitors can help you.