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Changes to Tier 1 visa categories in the UK

Posted on January 14, 2020
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Tier 1 visa

Most countries encouraging immigrants to come and settle down in their country have an investor-linked visa stream. The UK is no exception. The Tier 1 visa scheme of the UK is for individuals willing to make a certain amount of investment in the country. With the investment, they will be eligible to live, work or open a business in the country.

In 2019, changes were made to the Tier 1 visa category following recommendations by the Migration Advisory committee. The changes were proposed to encourage investment in and development of innovative and scalable businesses in the UK.

 This post looks at the changes in two Tier 1 visa categories.

Tier 1 Innovator Visa:

This visa category is open to experienced businesspersons and intends to encourage them to set up innovative businesses in the UK. The investor must make a minimum investment of 50,000 pounds and the business must be endorsed by an endorsing body. However, if you are already running a business in the UK approved by an endorsing body, then you need not make this investment.

You will be eligible for this visa if you:

  • Are not a citizen of the EEA and Switzerland
  • Wish to set up a business in the UK
  • Have an innovative and scalable business idea

Staying in the UK:

  • You can stay for up to three years if you enter the country on the Innovator Visa or are already staying there on another valid visa
  • The visa can be extended for another three years and you can continue extending it several times
  • After five years of staying on this visa, you are eligible to stay indefinitely in the country

Tier 1 Start-Up Visa:

This new visa category will replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa program. This visa category exclusively caters to entrepreneurs with high potential who are starting a business for the first time.

The application for this visa can be submitted three months before your intended date of travel to the UK. Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Are not a citizen of the EEA and Switzerland
  • Wish to set up a business in the UK
  • The business idea must be endorsed by a higher education institute in the UK or a business organization that supports UK entrepreneurs
  • No requirement for an initial investment
  • Applicant must be at least 18 years old
  • Applicant must fulfil English language requirements
  • Applicants must have enough funds to support their stay in the UK

Staying in the UK:

  • You can stay for up to two years on this visa and can bring your spouse or partner and unmarried children under the age of 18 to stay with you
  • You can do work outside your business for funding your stay
  • You cannot extend your visa after two years but you can apply for the innovator visa to extend your stay and develop your business.

Impact of the changes:

The changes to the Tier 1 visa categories will help overseas investors to start a business in the UK either with reduced or no previous funding. The proposed business ideas will have to be endorsed by an official body rather than the Home Office officials.

The changes to the Tier 1 visa are expected to encourage the development of innovative businesses in the country.

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