13 May 2019

Alternate options for Start-up and Innovator Visa

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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. We have highlighted some of the alternates which may be of interest for many applicants wishing to migrate to the UK to set up a business.

Sole Representative of Overseas Business Visa

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Contact Our Business Immigration Team

For expert advice on the alternative options to the Innovator and Startup visa routes, contact our business immigration solicitors in London on 0203 909 8399 or complete our enquiry form below.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

About the Author

Awais Javed
Awais has an extensive experience of advising high net-worth individuals on all types of immigration matters, ranging from investor and entrepreneur visa applications to appeals and judicial reviews in the Immigration Tribunal and the High Court.

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