UK Innovator Visa: a case study

 

 

There has been negative press about the new Innovator Visa, so OTS Solicitors thought we would share an Innovator Visa case study to show that applicants are successfully starting to make UK Innovator visa applications.

 

The adverse publicity surrounding the Innovator visa stems from:

 
• The requirement for the business to be “innovative”. Under the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme, an applicant could set up any business as long as they had a half-reasonable business plan and the necessary £200,000 investment. Now it isn’t sufficient to be an entrepreneur, you have to be an Innovator to secure an Innovator or Start-up Visa;
• An applicant for an Innovator Visa or Start-up Visa has to undergo a two-stage application process. Firstly, the applicant has to get endorsement from an Endorsing Body. Secondly, the Home Office has to approve the application. The application process is perceived to be harder than the old Entrepreneur visa because instead of being interviewed by a Home Office official who may have had little knowledge of how businesses operate, the initial interview is now conducted online and interviews are then carried out by a business savvy Endorsing Body;
• Not only does an Innovator Visa applicant have to have an innovative business idea, they have to be able to show that their business is scalable.
 
The best London immigration solicitors say that where business ideas are not “innovative”, alternative visa options can be explored such as the Exceptional Talent, Exceptional Promise or Investor visa.

 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors team of dedicated London business immigration solicitors can help you with your application for an Innovator or Start-up Visa or look at alternative visa options.
 
Call Legal 500 recommended OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 to speak to a specialist business immigration solicitor for information about how OTS Solicitors can help secure your visa.
 

An Innovator Visa case study

 
OTS Solicitors are delighted that a client of Stephen Slater is one of the first Innovator Visa applicants who has received approval in principle from an Endorsing Body.
 
Some may question how OTS Solicitors have secured Endorsing Body approval in principle for the applicant when the Home Office only introduced the Innovator Visa scheme in April 2019. In fairness, OTS Solicitors had a head start in helping the client with her Innovator Visa application as she first contacted Stephen Slater to enquire about an Entrepreneur visa.
 
When the client first approached Stephen Slater, she was working in the UK under a Tier 2 (General) Visa. Her employer was not able to continue to sponsor her Employment and so she knew that she had to look at alternate visa options.
 
Meeting the client for the first time at a business fair highlighted her entrepreneurial spirit and genuine enthusiasm for setting up her own business in the UK. There were discussions about a potential Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application. The client returned to her native Azerbaijan to not fall foul of Home Office Immigration Rules and to sort out the funds for her Entrepreneur visa application.
 
The Home Office then announced its new Innovator Visa scheme. There was a small window of opportunity for applicants to submit their planned Entrepreneur visa applications. Although there were serious time pressures, a review of the new Innovator Visa scheme revealed the client was likely to meet the innovation and scalability tests. Furthermore, she would not need to invest £200,000 if she did not proceed with her planned Entrepreneur visa and instead applied for an Innovator Visa.
 
Top London immigration solicitors will tell you it takes time for Immigration lawyers to assess the likely prospects of success for an Innovator Visa application. However, OTS Solicitors were in the privileged position of:
 
• Knowing their client and business plan through advising her on her proposed Entrepreneur visa;
• Having an in-house advocate and economist look over the business plan. Stephen Slater not only knows the minutia of Immigration Rules but he understands business plans and figures, and what the Endorsing Body is looking for in the paperwork and interview process. That is a useful combination when you are assessing a proposed Innovator Visa application and then guiding the applicant through the Endorsing Body application and interview process. Undergoing a mock interview(s) by an economist and in-house advocate prior to the real thing by the Endorsing Body can be a challenge, but crucial preparation. 
 

An innovative business 

 
OTS Solicitors acknowledge most of the success of their case study is down to the applicant’s innovative business idea and willingness to listen to advice and then work at the detail in her business plan and paperwork.
 
The client is from Azerbaijan where her family has an automation business. A family business means the client has a thorough grounding in business operation and financing. All it then took, with her business acumen, was the innovative idea. In the process control industry digitalisation can save a company time and money. A digital sensor reporting to the hub is just the sort of innovative business idea that the UK government was hoping to attract to the UK via the Innovator Visa.
 
Top London immigration solicitors say that when it comes to the Innovator Visa innovation is only the start, the paperwork is just as important. That can be hard when you are an Innovator and not an accountant. That is why some entrepreneurs really need the support of a business plan writer, accountant, as well as a business savvy Immigration solicitor to get them through the written and verbal interview process.
 

Scalability 

 
With an Innovator Visa application, the key to success is preparation, particularly when it comes to evidencing scalability of the business idea. After all, there is nothing more frustrating than to have a brilliant business idea but not be able to make it pay or be able to convince the Endorsing Body that the innovation is “scalable”.
 
Innovator Visa and the investment requirement
The best London immigration solicitors advise that a £50,000 investment in the business is required. This can come from the applicant, third party or even the Endorsing Body. That is because some Endorsing Bodies are venture capitalists. That means they can either provide endorsement to enable an applicant to submit their application to the Home Office using their own funds, or subject to further investigation and interview, the Endorsing Body can provide the investment.
 

Innovation as a route to settlement 

 
Our client’s goal is to settle in the UK. Stephen Slater has no doubt that she will achieve that goal given her drive to make her business succeed.
 
Top London immigration solicitors say that it is vital that Innovator Visa clients know what goals they will have to achieve to apply for settlement in the UK before embarking on an Innovator Visa application. 
 
Immigration Rules say a person in the UK on an Innovator Visa can apply for settlement after three years of continuous UK residence, if they meet at least two of the following requirements:
 
• At least £50,000 has been invested and spent in the business; or
• The business has created at least five full time jobs for resident workers paying at least £25,000 a year or 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 carried out 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 detail in the settlement criteria really mean that an Innovator Visa holder has to focus on these business goals to achieve at least two of the criteria for UK settlement, criteria that Stephen Slater’s client is already working on.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
Legal 500 recommended central London OTS Solicitors can help you apply for an Innovator Visa or look at your alternative visa options. 
 
With experience in representing entrepreneurs and business owners our Immigration solicitors can guide you on the Innovator Visa application process to ensure that your application has the best prospects for success.
 
Call us on 0203 959 9123 to discuss how our experienced London Immigration law solicitors can help you.
 

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