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On 7 March 2019, the Home Office published a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules, which includes several amendments made to points based visa categories including investor, highly-skilled worker and student visa categories. However, the most prominent changes include the closure of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category starting from this April 2019.

The existing Entrepreneur visa category, which the government has been planning to reform, as it has a significant record of low-quality projects which contributed a ‘little or nothing’ to the UK economy. The changes are also explained by the rising financial crimes such as money laundering and fraud through this category, which follows the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) review and reports published as far back as 2015.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur category will therefore be scrapped after 30th March 2019. This will, however, not affect the migrants that are already on this route.

New Tier 1 Visa Categories

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is being replaced by two new categories – Start-up and Innovator.

The major difference between Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and the new Start-up category is that the applicants under the Start-up route will not need to be graduates and the requirement of securing funding will cease.

Those who succeed in their application will get a leave for a period of two years instead of one and will be able to further develop their career by applying for a new Innovator visa category.

The Innovator visa option is intended for more senior and mature entrepreneurs or business people, who will be required to invest £50,000 of their own funds from legitimate sources in their businesses (reduced from £200,000 for most applicants in the current Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category). This requirement for funds will be waived for migrants who want to switch from the Start-up category and those who have made a significant achievement against their business plans.

Importantly, the Applicants under these routes will now need to be be endorsed by an independent endorsing body vetted by the UK government rather than the Home Office.

Applicants who satisfy at least two of the Home Office’s new criteria (covering investment, innovation, business growth and job creation) may qualify for settlement after three years on the Innovator visa category.

We are yet to see how the new entrepreneur visa categories will be implemented and  run by the government, but from it certainly seems that the requirements will become much tougher. As always, we will keep you informed.

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