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Last week the Home Office published a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules which signals the end of the Points Based System. The 296 page document contains a number of significant changes and this post will consider the creation of the Start-up and Innovator visa categories.

The Home Office intend to create two new routes for those who wish to set up a business in the UK. These new routes will be contained in Appendix W of the Immigration Rules and will replace the existing routes of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and (Entrepreneur). Unlike the current regime, there will be no points-scoring tables. These changes have been long-awaited following a review of the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) in 2015. The MAC had recommended the broadening of the Graduate Entrepreneur route and reform of the Entrepreneur category.

In order to apply for either a Start-up or Innovator visa, applicants will need to be endorsed by an endorsing body (as specified by the Home Office). The endorsing body’s decision will be based on an assessment of whether the business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.

Those seeking to set-up a business for the first time should apply under the Start-up category.

Some of the key features of this route are:

  • Applicants will not need to be university graduates
  • Applicants will not need to have secured any initial funding
  • Successful applicants will be granted 2 years’ leave
  • This is not a route to settlement but, after 2 years, applicants can make an application to progress into the Innovator category

The Innovator category is for applicants who have established business experience. Some of the key points of this route are:

  • Applicants will need to meet a funding requirement of £50,000 to invest in their business from a legitimate source (although this will be subject to a few exceptions, for example for those switching from the Start-up category who have made significant achievements against their business plans)
  • This route may lead to settlement after a period of 3 years

Both categories will require applicants to evidence that an English language requirement and maintenance requirement is met.

The new rules will come into effect on 29 March 2019. The last date for making new applications under the current rules will be 5 April 2019, with transitional provisions being put in place for extension and settlement applications under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). If you currently hold leave as a Graduate Entrepreneur or Entrepreneur, or wish to come to the UK to establish a business in the future, then please do not hesitate to contact one of the solicitors in our immigration team to discuss how these changes will impact you.