Investor, Business Development and Talent Visas

Innovator Visa

The Innovator visa category is for more experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants must demonstrate an ‘innovative’, ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea which is supported by an endorsing body listed on the Home Office list of Endorsing Bodies. With some exceptions, applicants are required to have funding of no less than £50,000 to invest in their business.

Applicants who are already in the UK under certain visa categories can switch to the Innovator visa from inside the UK:

  • Start-up
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V

Requirements for Innovator visa

The requirements for the innovator visa are divided into ‘General’ and ‘Specific’. Both General and Specific requirements must be met for the Innovator visa to be granted. The initial visa is granted for 3 years. To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)/Settlement the Innovator visa holder requires 3 years continuous residence in the UK.

General requirements for Innovator visa

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old;
  • B2 English language ability is required (approved English language test needs to be taken unless an applicant is from a majority English speaking country listed in the immigration rules OR have an university degree from the UK or a foreign university degree that was taught in English and is recognised as equivalent to UK degree by UK Naric);
  • The applicant must pass the credibility assessment*;
  • Maintenance funds required for the Main Applicant are £945. NOTE: Applicant does not need to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from the endorsing body confirms they have been awarded funding of at least £945 in addition to the £50,000 investment funds required.
  • There are no general grounds of refusal (e.g. applicant’s criminal record, breach of immigration rules).

*Credibility assessment

The Home Office must be satisfied that all of the following requirements are met:

  • The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
  • The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
  • Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.
  • The Home Office will take into account any endorsement of the applicant required under the rules, and may also take into account any or all of the following factors:
  • the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility
  • the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history
  • declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK
  • any other relevant information
  • The Home Office may request additional information and evidence from the applicant or the applicant’s endorsing body.
  • The Home Office may ask the applicant to attend an interview.

Specific requirements  for the Innovator visa

Endorsement

The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies here. Only the organisations from the Home Office list can grant endorsements for the Innovator visa.
It is absolutely vital for applicants to first obtain an endorsement from one of the approved organisations before applying for the visa.

Endorsing bodies responsibilities and their impact on the applicant’s visa

Endorsing bodies will have significant responsibilities to monitor the Innovator business activities and keep the Home Office updated. These responsibilities are as follows:

  • To stay in contact with those they have endorsed at 6, 12 and 24 months checkpoints after their application is granted.
  • To inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
  • The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture;
  • The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria.
  • To inform the Home Office if an applicant misses any of these checkpoints without the endorsing body’s authorisation.
  • To withdraw its endorsement if either bullet point 2 or bullet point 3 immediately above applies, unless it is aware of exceptional and compelling reasons not to withdraw its endorsement, and informs the Home Office of those reasons.
  • To inform the Home Office if it has any reason to believe that an individual it has endorsed is working outside of their own business ventures, in breach of their conditions.
  • Must not be connected to past or present abuse of the immigration system.

Endorsement criteria – new business

The endorsing body must be ‘reasonably satisfied’ that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing business ventures AND the applicant’s business idea meets the criteria of Innovation, Viability and Scalability. The Home Office defines the Innovation, Viability and Scalability 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 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 and international markets.

Endorsement criteria – same business

If the applicant is relying on endorsement under the same business criteria, the endorsement letter must confirm all of the following key points:

  • The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.
  • The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.
  • The business is active and trading.
  • The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.
  • The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.
  • The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on continuing to develop business ventures.

Endorsement criteria – settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain)

If the applicant is making a settlement application, the endorsement letter must confirm both of the following:

  • The applicant meets all of the same business endorsement criteria set out in paragraphs above;
  • The applicant’s business venture meets at least two of the following requirements:
    • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.
    • 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.
    • The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
    • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
    • 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.
    • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
    • 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).
    • If the applicant is relying on the criteria for creating jobs:
      • The jobs must have existed for at least 12 months and comply with all relevant UK legislation, including (but not limited to) the National Minimum Wage Regulations in effect at the time and the Working Time Regulations 1998.
      • Each of the jobs must involve an average of at least 30 hours of paid work per week.

Start up visa

Requirements for the start up visa

The Start up visa category is for individuals seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. The requirements for the start up visa are divided into ‘General’ and ‘Specific’. Both General and Specific requirements must be met for the Start up visa to be granted. Visa is granted for 2 years and it does not lead to Settlement in the UK but it can be switched to the Innovator category.

Applicants who are already in the UK with certain visa categories can switch to a Start up visa from inside the UK:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 4 (General) if certain requirements are met
  • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur.

General requirements

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old;
  • The applicant must have B2 English language ability (approved English language test is required unless the applicant is a national of one of the majority English speaking countries listed in the immigration rules OR has a university degree from the UK or has a foreign university degree that was taught in English and is recognised as equivalent to UK degree by UK NARIC);
  • The applicant must pass the credibility assessment*;
  • The applicant must have £945 maintenance funds. NOTE: There is no requirement to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from the endorsing body confirms that at least £945 funding has been awarded.
  • There are no general grounds of refusal (e.g. applicant’s criminal record, breach of immigration rules);
  • The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and may be a member of an entrepreneurial team.

*Credibility assessment:
The Home Office must be satisfied that all of the following requirements are met:

  • The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
  • The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
  • Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.
  • The Home Office will take into account any endorsement of the applicant required under the rules, and may also take into account any or all of the following factors:
  • the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility
  • the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history
  • declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK
  • any other relevant information.
  • The Home Office may request additional information and evidence from the applicant or the applicant’s endorsing body.
  • The Home Office may ask the applicant to attend an interview.

Specific requirements

Endorsement  

The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies here. The endorsing bodies are divided into: business endorsing bodies (generally business incubators, accelerators or venture capital organisations ) and HEI endorsing bodies (universities). Only the organisations from the Home Office list can grant endorsements for the Start up visa.
It is absolutely vital for applicants to first obtain an endorsement from one of the approved organisations before applying for the visa.

Endorsing bodies have the following responsibilities:

  • To stay in contact with those they have endorsed at 6, 12 and 24 months checkpoints after their application is granted.
  • To inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
    (1) The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture
    (2) The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria set out in the immigration rules.
  • To inform the Home Office if an applicant misses any of these checkpoints without the endorsing body’s authorisation.
  • To withdraw its endorsement if either bullet point 2 or bullet point 3 above applies, unless it is aware of exceptional and compelling reasons not to withdraw its endorsement, and informs the Home Office of those reasons.
  • To inform the Home Office if it has any reason to believe that an individual it has endorsed breaches any of their conditions.
  • Must not be connected to past or present abuse of the immigration system

Endorsement criteria

The applicant’s business must meet the criteria of ‘Innovation, Viability and Scalability’ AND the endorsing body must be ‘reasonably satisfied’ that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing their business.  The Home Office defines the Innovation, Viability and Scalability 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.

NOTE: The requirement of Innovation, Viability and Scalability does not apply if the applicant’s previous leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, and the endorsement is from the same endorsing body.

Meet the team

Partner - Employment

Andrew Firman is a partner in our corporate & commercial team. His corporate practice concentrates on buying and selling mainly owner-managed SMEs and associated advice on contractual and banking documentation work.  His employment practice covers all aspects of contentious and non-contentious work for both employers and employees. His charity practice majors on compliance and amalgamation matters.

Transactions

In his work, Andrew looks for proactive and pragmatic solutions derived from a proper understanding of the client’s perspective and against the background of the commercial constraints.

Career highlights include

  • running a David v Goliath style battle for a former employee of a US based bank related to the late vesting of share options following that employee’s termination at a time when the US markets were in freefall
  • negotiating, finalising and drawing down for an off-shore SPV borrower at £310M facility to buy a group of companies which owned, as an investment, the London HQ of a multinational corporation
  • reaching settlement terms on a long running shareholders’ dispute concerning a company running a niche members’ gym in a close knit area of London

More recently, Andrew has advised upon

  • the purchase of owner-managed companies across a number of different sectors by a leading SME investor, incentivising existing management via equity and loan note positions in the purchasing entity
  • sale by owner managers of a London based estate agency business with multiple sites, whilst preserving the sellers’ ability to continue business activity in the sector
  • sale of SPV off shore companies holding UK property assets
  • multi facility refinancing of a major UK specialist facilities maintenance company with asset based receivables, property, cashflow and recovery loan scheme elements
  • the negotiation and documentation of departure terms for the CEO pioneer of a cutting edge national charity
  • the position of a charity trustee in connection with disqualification proceedings and interim manager appointment by the Charity Commission in respect of two charitable trusts

Andrew has over the years enjoyed advising many owner-managed SMEs on the range of their needs for commercial, employment and dispute related legal advice, something for which the firm has received increasing recognition through awards, repeat and new business which in turn goes to the depth of the relationships the firm has with its clients and its target market in terms of size of business clients.

Andrew was educated at Nailsea School and holds degrees in law from Manchester and Leicester Universities.  He qualified as a solicitor in 1995. He is a co-author of a Practical Guide to Drone Law.

Away from the office Andrew, married to a local GP and of occasional use to his three children, enjoys running and cycling and being involved in various ways in his local church and the fantastic community that is SE24.

020 7406 1000 - AndrewFirman@cartercamerons.com
Paralegal - Immigration, Company Commercial

Carmen is a paralegal with over 7 years’ experience in immigration. Her calm and efficient manner ensures matters are dealt with as quickly and cost effectively for clients as possible.

Carmen provides general support to fee earners and Partners within Company Commercial and Immigration teams. She assists in the day-to-day functions of the Immigration team including all aspects of casework and assisting in the preparation of applications. Under direct supervision, Carmen acts as a caseworker on straightforward cases, and supports solicitors in more complex matters. She reviews client queries and drafts responses for review by solicitors and prepares documentation for application under a wide range of visa routes with great skill. As part of the Company Commercial team, she has reviewed share purchase agreements, drafted escrow agreements, prepared bundles for mediation and recently attended a successful mediation meeting over a contract dispute.

She holds degrees in Airline and Airport Management (First-Class Honours), and International Politics and Economics (2:1).

Outside of work, Carmen plays the piano, enjoys trying new activities (the latest being paddle boarding) and is an active church member.

020 7406 1000 - CarmenLoke@cartercamerons.com
Senior Associate - Immigration

Jarmila’s extensive and well-rounded experience in both corporate and private immigration enables her to advise and assist clients efficiently. Her detailed knowledge of the Home Office policies and her professional manner is a great benefit to clients with tight deadlines.

Her experience also includes applications for the review of public authority decisions by the court, that enable such decisions to be challenged on the grounds of illegality, irrationality and unfairness. Jarmila understands the particulars of bringing or defending a claim. She works with clients from the start to identify the core issues and gain an understanding of the key concerns, which allow her to deliver focused and clear advice. Jarmila works with her clients from the beginning and throughout the preparation to ensure the clients’ actions are lawful, or where a potential dispute arises she assists with a principled, measured and robust defence.

Jarmila receives instructions to prepare appeals to First tier and Upper Tribunals of the Immigration and Asylum Chambers and has been involved in judicial review applications at the High Court.

Jarmila assists clients on HR issues and all aspects of employment law including: employment rights; discrimination, victimisation and whistleblowing; termination of employment and settlement agreements; redundancies and restructures; TUPE; employment policies and employment contracts; HR process, including disciplinaries and grievances.

She has strong links in the Slovak community and cooperates with the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in advising corporate and private clients about sponsoring workers as well as family visas and status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Jarmila has had articles published in the Employment Law Journal and Law Gazette for Westminster and Holborn.

She is a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association.

020 7406 1000 - JarmilaEntezari@cartercamerons.com
Partner - Corporate

The Legal 500: Recommended lawyer 2020Katarzyna (Kate) Boguslawska qualified as a solicitor in 2006 and is a Partner in our corporate and commercial department.

Kate’s clients range from start-up owners through to SMEs and some global main-players who need advice on business-related matters. These range from advice on employment and company matters to contract drafting and disputes. Kate understands her clients, their needs and goals. Her clients often praise her pragmatic approach and tailored practical advice.

Employment

In her employment practice Kate:

  • drafts contracts, handbooks and company policies
  • provides regular Employment/HR Advice
  • negotiates contracts
  • drafts and negotiate settlement agreements
  • helps to navigate through TUPE, restructure and redundancies
  • advises and represents in claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, breach of contract, unlawful deduction from wages, etc
  • advises on injunctive relief and restrictive covenants

Notable employment work included:

  • advising a well-known English designer in company restructure and redundancies;
  • advising employers and high net worth individuals on settlement agreements and severance packages;
  • regular HR advice to a number of company clients;
  • advising media company on contracts and issues relating to confidentiality, IP and restrictive covenants;
  • representing high earning claimants in ‘Stress at Work’ personal injury matters.

Commercial

In her commercial and company practice Kate:

  • advises on suitable business entities and company formation;
  • advises on company and directors’ duties;
  • drafts necessary company documents including amended articles and resolutions;
  • drafts and negotiates contracts and shareholders’ agreements;
  • advises on shareholders disputes.

Notable commercial work included:

  • advising and representing foreign companies establishing business in the UK;
  • advising companies on matters involving directors’ duties and shareholders’ disputes;
  • advising a Polish PLC on contract matters and negotiating on its behalf with an English PLC;
  • representing an international cosmetics company in injunctive relief and restraint of trade matters;
  • representing hauliers in representations against Border Force and HMRC in excise duty matters;
  • advising EU nationals on immigration issues, residency and citizenship applications in the UK.

More…

Kate has strong links in the Polish community and is recommended by the Polish Embassy in London, having co-written a Guide for Polish Investors in the UK that was published by the Embassy. She has a broad network of international connections and has been instructed by law firms in Poland to assist their clients in matters involving English jurisdiction.

Listen to Kate’s podcast

 

020 7406 1000 - katarzynaboguslawska@cartercamerons.com
Partner - Immigration/Nationality/Commercial Property

Property

  • Commercial property transactions
  • Purchase and sales of commercial properties
  • Grants of commercial leases
  • Property aspects of M&A transactions

Immigration

  • Over 40 years working in all areas of immigration and nationality

More…

Robert studied Business Management before converting to Law and attending the College of Law in London. Robert qualified as a Solicitor in 1983.

Before qualifying as a Solicitor in March 1983, Robert worked as a property agent and played football at a semi-professional level.

Robert has earned himself the reputation of being both commercial and caring in his approach to clients.

He is a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association and The Lawyers Christian Fellowship.

Robert speaks Armenian and Farsi.

020 7406 1000 / 07973 418 174 - RobertSookias@cartercamerons.com

Do you have a question?

    If you would like to see full details of our data practices please visit our Privacy Policy and if you have any questions please email privacy@cartercamerons.com.