Alternatives to the Start-up and Innovator visas
As many of you will be aware, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route closed for initial applications on 29 March 2019. If you are a business person with relevant experience you may be finding it difficult to ascertain an appropriate way to carry out your business activities in the UK.
Our earlier blog post explored the current list of endorsing bodies that an applicant must apply to for a Start-up or Innovator visa. With difficulties and delays in obtaining such endorsements, you may wish to explore other options for entry to the UK. Each of the options identified below are open to non-EEA nationals seeking to engage in business in the UK.
Sole Representative of Overseas Business Visa
If you already work for an overseas company, then you may consider applying for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa. If you intend to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK which operates in the same type of business as your overseas business, then this visa could be suitable for you.
To apply, you must be a senior employee and your overseas business must be genuine and trading. The business must have no branch, subsidiary or any other representative in the UK. You also must intend for your business operations to continue overseas, as your overseas location will remain the main hub of your activities.
Other requirements include not holding more than 50% of the shares in the business, being recruited outside of the UK and not intending to take employment other than for your business.
The nature of a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa means that you should have the full authority to take decisions on behalf of the business.
As a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa holder you will be able to set up and run a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of your overseas employer.
Further information about the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa is available here.
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
If you have experience in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts or digital technology then the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa category may be suitable for you.
The Exceptional Talent category is for individuals who are internationally recognised as world leaders in their field. Alternatively, there is the Tier 1 Exceptional Promise category which recognises individuals who have the potential to become world leaders in the future. Each visa gives you the full right to work.
To apply, you will first need to receive an endorsement from one of the recognised endorsing bodies: The Royal Society; The Royal Academy of Engineering; The British Academy; The Arts Council or Tech City UK. You can only apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa after you have been endorsed, which makes the endorsement application an important step.
You will need to have a substantial body of work to rely on to make the application. Support from experts in the field in which you are applying is also important.
The benefit of Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is that applicants can decide how long they would like to stay in the UK for up to a maximum of five years. A route to settlement is also possible.
As a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holder you will have a full right to work – for an employer, as a director of a company or as a self-employed person.
Further information about the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is available here.
Tier 1 Investor Visa
The Tier 1 Investor visa category is for non-EEA nationals who are able to make a substantial investment in the UK.
You will need to have access to at least £2 million to invest in the UK. The money can be held in your name, your partner’s name or held jointly by you and your partner. The funds should also be freely transferable to the UK and must be convertible to pounds sterling.
As well as being able to access to at least £2 million, you must hold the money in a regulated financial institution. Applicants should ideally be able to demonstrate that they have held their investment funds for at least 2 years prior to the date of application. If you have held your investment funds for less than 2 years then you will need to prove the source of your funds and, in every case, the Home Office will need to be satisfied as to the provenance of the funds.
A further requirement is that you must have opened a UK bank account with a regulated bank for the purpose of investing your funds in the UK.
As a Tier 1 Investor visa holder, you will need to invest at least £2 million in one or more active and trading UK companies. You will also have a full right to work – for an employer, as a director of a company or as a self-employed person.
Further information about the Tier 1 Investor visa category is available here.
Contact Our Business Immigration Barristers
For expert advice on the alternative options to the Innovator and Start up visa routes, contact our business immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.