New business visas from 29 March 2019: settlement / ILR rules for entrepreneurs under new Innovator visa

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is closing on 29 March 2019; a new Innovator category is succeeding it.  This post is focusing on its criteria for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain, IRL). Even though ILR applications won’t happen until at least March 2022, it makes sense to research now what is expected while you are in the UK as an Innovator.   

During Tier 1 visa, we had a fairly short exhaustive list of requirements, and had to meet all of them. 

Now, under the new Innovator category, you are given a choice of 7 criteria and you can apply when you have met any 2 of them (but minimum 3 years in the UK on this visa).Some are familiar rules on investment, turnover or creating jobs for settled workers, albeit with the different details, such as investment of £50,000 and not £200,000; or creating 5 jobs with a salary of £25,000 (instead of 2 jobs on unspecified salary).  

Then there are new ones, such as on creating intellectual property; or generating turnover of £500,000 of which £100,000 from exporting from the UK. 

Once you have met any 2 of the below, you could qualify for permanent residency / ILR. You would need to obtain an endorsement, confirming you have met the requirements. Hence, you may need, say, 3.5 years or 5.5 yeas or even more. Every time you need ‘more’ – extension for 3 years, based on the new endorsement (and then another endorsement for ILR). 

Important! You still need to meet extension criteria as well as ILR criteria when applying for “ILR endorsement”. Your endorsing body has to confirm both, ie ILR and extension criteria together. It has to be a “same-business’ type of endorsement. In other words, if you change your business activity, you have to start from an initial visa again. The new extension criteria can be found on this post. 

Here is a full list of settlement criteria: 

The applicant’s business venture meets at least two of the following requirements: 

#1 At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement. 

#2 The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services. 

#3 The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK. 

#4 The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts. 

#5 The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas. 

#6 The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.

#7 The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses). 
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