Important changes for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa!

On 7 March 2019, the UK government announced changes to the Immigration Rules, which further demonstrate its commitment to attracting leading talent.

Start-up visa scheme

The Start-up visa route will replace the existing Tier 1 (Graduate) visa category. This scheme is for migrants seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time.

The applicants will need to be supported by endorsing bodies and business experts, such as business accelerators, seed competitions and government agencies as well as higher education providers. The Appendix W of Immigration Rules will provide the details as to how a prospective applicant will qualify on the basis of “innovation, viability and scalability’. Appendix W has not yet been published. In addition, the English language requirement has been increased to B2.

The successful applicants will be granted leave for 2 years and they are allowed to switch to the Innovator category in order to continue developing their businesses in the UK. Please note that the Start-up visa route does not lead to settlement in the UK, but will count towards the long residence.

Innovator visa category

The existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa will be removed on 29 March 2019. The Innovator visa category will replace it. This category is for more experienced business people than Start-up applicants seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which will be assessed by an endorsing body (the list is not yet known).

Significantly, the funding requirement of the Innovator visa is reduced from £200,000 to £50,000. For leave to remain application under the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) scheme, it will be possible to extend until 5 April 2023 and to apply for settlement up to 5 April 2025.

Please note that migrants will be able to apply for settlement under the “Innovator” visa category having spent 3 years in this category if the applicant’s business were to meet at least two of the following requirements:

(i) £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.

(ii) The number of the business’s 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.

(iii) The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.

(iv) The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.

(v) 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.

(vi) The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.

(vii) 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).

Investor visa scheme

There are significant changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) route from 29 March 2019.

The applicants will need to show that they have held the required £2 million funds under their control for at least 2 years rather than 90 days. Otherwise, they must provide strong supporting evidence in relation to the source of the cash funds.

For the extension application under the current Tier 1 (Investor) scheme, this will remain open until 5 April 2023 and settlement applications until 5 April 2025.

EU Settlement scheme

The change to Part 1 set out in paragraph 1.1 of the Statement will take effect on 30 March 2019.

Citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have been promised that their rights will be protected after Brexit with or without a deal.

Please note that non-EU Surinder singh family members as well as those who are living on the Isle of Man or Channel Islands will be able to apply for settled status under the new scheme too.

Tier 2 (General) visa salary levels

The Home Office has agreed to extend the salary exemption in the Tier 2 (General) visa to qualify for settlement so that the NHS and schools can continue to hire experienced teachers, nurses and paramedics from overseas. The salary exemption applies to all nurses and paramedics, medical radiographers and secondary school teachers who teach maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin.

Appendix H

The list of countries which benefit from the streamlined documentary requirements, found in Appendix H, has been updated to include Brazil, Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Oman, Peru and Tunisia. This change will not only benefit students, who will be able to apply for a Tier 4 visa through a more streamlined process, but also help to ensure that the UK’s world-leading education institutions remain competitive internationally.

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