On 7 March 2019, the Home Office announced very significant changes to a number of the UK’s Immigration Rules relating particularly to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) routes.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

This route was abolished on 29 March 2019 and replaced by an Innovator Visa.   The new visa is intended for experienced business people and applicants applying for this visa will have to demonstrate access to investment funds of £50,000.00.  Applicants will initially be issued with a three year visa and they will need to be endorsed by a trusted UK body which will confirm that their business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.  The endorsing bodies themselves will need to meet specific criteria and will also need to keep in touch with the applicant throughout their permission to remain in the UK.  Applicants seeking to extend their permission to remain in this category will need to show that their business is trading and has been successful.  However, if their initial business idea was not successful, then they will be able to submit a fresh idea although this will need to be endorsed by the endorsing body as with initial applications.

Under the Innovator category, applicants will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain after three years if they can demonstrate that their business meets a number of specific Immigration Rules.  The English language requirement for applicants applying for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa was a standard set at Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference.  The requirement under the Innovator category has increased to Level B2.

Tier 1 (Investor)

This category has been subject to some uncertainty, especially towards the end of last year when the Home Office initially announced that the scheme would be suspended but ultimately it was not.  Currently, applicants are required to demonstrate that they have the sum of £2million to invest in the UK.  They have to provide evidence of the source of the investment funds for a period of 90 days prior to the date of application.  However, from 29 March 2019, applicants will have to provide evidence of the source of any investment funds for at least two years and they will also need to have confirmation from a UK Bank that all of the required due diligence has been carried out before an investment account has been opened.

Another important change is that applicants will no longer be able to invest in Government Bonds but will instead need to invest in UK businesses. 

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) This route has been replaced by a Start-up visa and will be for applicants who are looking to start a business in the UK.  Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applicants were required to be Graduates whereas the new Start-up category does not have this requirement and applicants will not need to have access to investment funds.  Initially, applicants will be issued with permission to remain in the UK for two years and they will be able to progress into the new Innovator category to enable them to continue developing their business.  For applicants who can show a significant achievement within their business, the requirement to have access to the sum of £50,000.00 by way of investment funds will be waived. 

If you would like any guidance on this or any other immigration issue, please contact Sohan Sidhu ss@gross.co.uk or +44 (0) 1284 763333.

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