New start-up and innovator visas launched and Settlement Scheme for EU nationals goes live
The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) announced important changes to the UK immigration system yesterday, many of which will take effect on 29 March 2019. The changes are intended to fully launch the EU Settlement Scheme (the mechanism by which EEA and Swiss nationals can remain in the UK post-Brexit), reform the controversial Tier 1 (Investor) category and introduce new start-up and innovator categories.
From 29 March 2019, the Tier 1 (Investor) category will require new investors to demonstrate the source of any investment funds obtained within the last two years. Under the current system, investors only have to show the source of their funds obtained within the last 90 days.
The UKVI has also decided to replace the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) with new Innovator and Start-up categories. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) will close on 29 March 2019 and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) will close on 6 July 2019.
However, in welcome news for entrepreneurs, there will be a lower threshold of investment required – £50K rather than £200K. Interestingly, the route ‘may’ lead to settlement. Migrants will have to be endorsed against a range of criteria covering investment, innovation, business growth and job creation in order to qualify for settlement and they will be able to select which criteria they wish to be assessed against, potentially applying for settlement after three years in a qualifying route.
Other changes for entrepreneurs include:
- the English language threshold will be higher with prospective migrants having to demonstrate English language ability at upper intermediate (B2) level; and
- extension criteria will include assessing whether the migrant has made significant achievements in relation to their business plans and whether their businesses are trading.
A word of warning to those whose original business ideas fail: you will be required to re-apply with a new business idea for endorsement under the initial criteria and may lose the time you have already accrued in the UK towards settlement.
Once again, it could be argued that the UKVI is outsourcing its responsibility to third parties. With the latest set of changes, endorsing bodies will be required to monitor whether migrants are continuing to meet the criteria at key checkpoints during the life of their visas (6 months, 12 months and at 24 months for Innovators). This checkpoint requirement could be administratively burdensome on both the innovator and the endorsing bodies in question.
for more information on any of the visa categories, please contact Anushka Sinha