Latest Changes on Immigration Rules – Tier 1, Start Up, Innovator and Investor Reforms

A new statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was published today, Wednesday, 7 March 2019.

Start-up visa

The statement of changes has confirmed that the Graduate Entrepreneur route will be closed to new applicants as of 6 July 2019. Applicants under the Graduate Entrepreneur category can continue to apply until 5 July 2019.

This will be replaced by a Start-up visa contained in the Immigration Rules. This shall take effect on 29 March 2019. Applicants will need to be endorsed by a trusted organisation in the UK, “such as business accelerators, seed competitions and government agencies, as well as higher education providers”.

The requirements for the Start-up visa will be found in Appendix W of the Immigration Rules, including the endorsing bodies, their monitoring responsibilities and form of endorsement letter.

The Start-up visa does not need lead to settlement in the UK, although the applicant may be able to switch into the Innovator visa category, which does lead to settlement (see below). There will be transition arrangements for those who are already in the UK as Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneurs) to switch into the new system.

Innovator visa

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route will be closed from 29 March 2019. It will be replaced by the Innovator visa. As well as an endorsement, applicants will need at least £50,000 to invest in their business from any legitimate source. The funding requirement will be waived for those switching from the Start-up category who have made significant achievements in respect of their business plans. 

The Innovator visa will lead to settlement in the UK. The requirements for the Innovator visa will also be found in Appendix W and shall introduce three endorsement criteria, which are as follows:

Innovation – The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

Viability – The applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business

Scalability – There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

The endorser must also be “reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures.”

The Innovator visa will take effect from 29 March 2019.

Extension applications for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will remain open until 5 April 2023, and settlement applications until 5 April 2025.

Investor visa

Investors will now have to show source of wealth for two years rather than the current 90 days or provide evidence of the source of those funds. UK banks will also need to confirm they have conducted Know Your Client and Due Diligence checks when opening the UK bank account for the investor.

Purchase of UK government bonds is being excluded as a qualifying investment.

The rules will also be tightened in respect of routing investment funds via “intermediary vehicles”, including a requirement that such vehicles be regulated by the Agency Financial Conduct Authority. The definition of “active and trading” companies is also being changed so that they:

(i) are registered with Companies House in the UK;
(ii) are registered with HM Revenue and Customs for
corporation tax and PAYE;
(iii) have accounts and a UK business bank account, both
showing regular trading of its own goods or services;
(iv) have at least two UK-based employees who are not its

There will be Transitional arrangements for current investor visa holders until 5 April 2023 for extension applications and 5 April 2025 for settlement applications.

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