The Startup and Innovator visa categories are for non-EEA nationals wishing to set up a business in the UK. To qualify for a visa in either category, applicants must first obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body. All applications will be assessed for Innovation, Viability and Scalability.
· Innovation– it is likely they will assess whether the business products, marketing or branding display any innovation. Here a focus on new methods, branding and perhaps most significantly new inventive products or services will be assessed.
· Viability– it will not be enough to simply be innovative, it is likely that the business will need show that it has thought about an made plans to be viable. Essentially this means careful assessment of whether the business will be able to provide the product or service in question, and whether it will be able to maintain cash flow until profitability. It is unlikely that the business plan that does not have a clear route to profitability will be accepted.
· Scalability– this is relevant to start-ups most of all – business plans will need to have clear goals to scale. This is relatively easy for tech companies who are built to scale up from the outset. However all is not lost for companies in other sectors or others who are experts in other forms of businesses. For example, someone who wants to commence a fast food business will clearly be at a disadvantage if there seek to set up a single store which relies on local foot traffic for business. But if the same business, instead sought to open a number of branches of a fast food outlet that had strong branding, had innovative ideas or menu products (ie a normal range of fast food products as well as some that were indigenous from their country) or a strong process in its kitchen, this would fulfil all the relevant criteria.
The Innovator visa will require its applicants to submit a business plan and other supporting documents in order for them to be endorsed. The endorsement will be from a business sponsor and will be mandatory for all applicants.
· The Start-up category is for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs starting a business in the UK for the first time.
· Applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage, and must not have previously set up a business in the UK.
· Successful applicants are granted leave for 2 years and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.
· During the granted period of leave applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses but can also take on other work outside of their businesses, to support themselves.
· The Innovator category is for more experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK.
· Applicants will need a minimum £50,000 funding available to invest in their business.
· Successful Innovators are granted leave for 3 years at a time and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.
· Innovators must work entirely on developing their business ventures and may not take on other employment outside their business. This includes anything which effectively amounts to employment, such as using their own business to hire out their labour to another employer.
· After 3 years, Innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further 3 years or to settle permanently in the UK. Each of these 3 stages (initial application, extension, settlement) requires endorsement from an endorsing body.
· At the end of 2 years, Startup visa holders can switch into the Innovator category (see below) to extend their stay and develop their businesses in the UK.
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