Earlier this month, the Home Office published a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 1160). One of the biggest changes is the introduction of a new Innovator Founder visa route, which will replace the existing Innovator route from 13 April 2023. The Start-up route will close.
This new route is quite similar to its predecessor, as applicants would still need to be supported by an endorsing body to show that their business proposal is innovative, viable and scalable. It is envisaged that there will be three new endorsing bodies under the Innovator Founder route. The previous endorsing bodies (known as “Legacy Endorsing bodies”) will then generally only be able to continue endorsing those already under the Innovator route who apply to extend their stay for the same business concept assessed in a previous application.
A welcome change with the new scheme is the removal of the requirement for applicants to have a minimum of £50,000 available to invest in the business. The idea behind this is to provide more flexibility for those who do not require a significant level of investment to deliver their business idea.
Another key difference under the Innovator Founder route is the removal of the restriction on secondary employment. This means that individuals can engage in other employment in addition to working for the business they have established, provided that the role is at a skill level of at least RQF level 3 (equivalent to A-levels or above).
There is also greater flexibility in terms of the timing of contact point meetings between applicants and their endorsing bodies to assess the applicant’s progress. The new scheme only requires at least two contact points as opposed to the set timeline under the previous route of contact points at 6, 12 and 24-month intervals from the date an application is granted.
It remains to be seen whether these changes will attract more people to come to the UK with their business ideas.
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