The announcement of the new ‘innovator visa’ earlier this year came with much derision from specialists working in the field. The blurb from the government with the abolishment of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa was that it wasn’t working for the UK and wasn’t resulting in the attraction of the types of businesses, or business owners, the UK wanted to see.
A route not ready?
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) was therefore abolished in March of this year, with many of us managing a very full caseload of entrepreneur visas prior to the closure of the route! The replacement visa was the newly established ‘innovator’ visa. Many immigration solicitors were vocal in their criticism of the route. At its inception, telephone calls to the listed endorsing bodies resulted in a number of responses that indicated the route was not ready. Many endorsers had not finalised their policy and others stated that they did not want to be on the list and would speak to the Home Office in respect of this. It certainly had the air of a route that wasn’t ready for use.
Despite recent publicity that very few visas have been granted under this route, Westkin is positive as to the future prospects for this route and have represented clients that account for a sizeable chunk of all the visas issued under this route.
How does the innovator visa work?
It is worth thinking about the innovator visa as a two-stage process. The first stage is to get an endorsement, if you have experience in business related to tech, medical innovation, or want to live in areas of the UK where the government wish to boost business, such as Scotland, or in England, the Midlands, then you may be able to obtain an endorsement.
What does Westkin do?
Westkin can assist you first of all with discussing your idea and agreeing on the most suitable endorser for the business idea. We will then obtain the specific endorser’s guidance and assist with the preparation of a business plan to comply with that guidance. It is likely that you will need to attend at least one and possibly more meetings with the endorser prior to the endorsement being issued. Once this is issued it can be used in the visa application.
Once that endorsement is obtained, you will move onto stage two. You will need to meet the following requirements to obtain your visa:
Maintenance: You will need to hold maintenance in your bank account of at least £945. This must be held of three months prior to applying for the visa and you should ensure that you do not dip below this amount at any point prior to, or during the visa application process.
Investment: The Applicant will also need to evidence that he holds funds for investment of £50,000.
English Language: The Applicant will need to show that they speak English to the required standard.
Standard Requirements: There are also fairly standard requirements that need to be met, such as the Applicant should be 18 or over and must not fall foul of the general grounds for refusal.
Why the innovator route?
There is a benefit in this system over the Entrepreneur route. The Applicant’s business acumen and credibility of the business idea are assessed by experts in the field. The endorser will typically spend considerably more time and effort assessing whether the Applicant’s idea meets the criteria than the average Entry Clearance Officer or Immigration Officer would have done. On a number of occasions under the Entrepreneur route, persons with genuine businesses were refused on the basis of poor interviews whereas the innovator route has a more safeguard in place to prevent that happening.
Why chose Westkin Immigration Solicitors?
With the innovator visa and start-up visa being set up in March of this year, Westkin was granted three of the first visas under this scheme. We pride ourselves on our expert-led legal service and the care we show towards our clients.