Saturday, 9 March 2019

New UK business visas from 29 March 2019: old v new rules comparison table

Before 29 March 2019
From 29 March 2019

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), open to   all migrants.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) for graduates from UK universities, who completed a degree on Tier 4 visa and obtained an endorsement from their university to support their business idea  
Start-up and Innovator, both open to everyone.  

Start-up – your 1stbusiness in the UK (but not first ever – you can have had a business outside the UK).

Innovator - for experienced business people.  

Endorsement is needed for all.
Visa duration

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) – 1 year, extension for another year.  

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) – initially 3 years, extension – 2 years. ILR can be after 3 years (accelerated route) or after 5 years.
Start-up visa - 2 years. After that can switch to Innovator (or to another category, such as Tier 2 or Spouse visa).

Innovator – 3 years, then extension for another 3 years. No limit on how many extensions, every time for 3 years. ILR can be after 3 years on Innovator visa (if ILR rules are met), or later as soon as ILR rules are met. If not met – continue with extensions but every time need a new endorsement.


Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) doesn’t lead or count towards ILR. Need to switch to a visa that does, such as Entrepreneur or Tier 2, or Spouse.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) – initially 3 years, extension – 2 years. ILR can be after 3 years (accelerated route) or after 5 years.

Start-up visa doesn’t lead to settlement. Need to switch to another category that does, such as Innovator or Tier 2 General or Spouse visa.  

Innovator –  ILR can be after 3 years on Innovator visa (if ILR rules are met), or later as soon as ILR rules are met, ie can be 3.5 or 4 years etc. If not met – continue with extensions, ie can also be, say, 7 years. 

Was only needed for Graduate Entrepreneurs. 

Needed for all and for every stage: initial, extension, ILR.
Business plan
Needed for initial application only.

Needed for all stages (for endorsement) as well as to change a business idea.

Monitoring of progress when holding a visa
Was not required, only assessed at the time of next visa application.
Required to keep in touch with the endorsing body after 6, 12 and 24 months. To monitor the business is genuinely trading and progressing according to the business plan.

Change of business idea/activity
Was allowed, no additional actions were needed.
Have to obtain a new endorsement.

Can I come initially as a visitor?
Can I switch from visitor while I the UK?

Visiting – yes, under Prospective Entrepreneur category.

Switching from visitor – No.  
Visiting – Yes.
Even switching – Yes!

Money needed  
Entrepreneurs: £200,000; in very few cases - £50,000.

Graduate Entrepreneurs: no minimum; when later switching to Entrepreneur the minimum was only £50,000.
Applying straight as an Innovator: minimum   £50,000.

Start-Up:  no minimum (but enough for the business idea). 

Switching from Start-Up to Innovator: no minimum.
Entrepreneurial teams
2 people could share £200,000
Teams are still allowed but funds (or job creation) cannot be shared. If 2 migrants are a team, they need £50,000 per person.  
English – level goes up

Absences from the UK
180 days per year
180 days per year

Extension criteria

Entrepreneurs: mainly, invested £200,000 and created 2 jobs.

Innovators: need a new endorsement to confirm you have made significant achievements against your business plans, and whether the business(es) are trading. 
At this stage, there is no rule on minimum investment or job creation.

Settlement / ILR criteria

Entrepreneurs: maintained 2 jobs.

Innovators: you are given a choice of 7 criteria (some on investment, some on turnover, some on jobs), and you can apply when you have met any 2 of them (but minimum 3 years on this visa). 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.

Start-up v Innovator: pros and cons  

Start-up pros:  no minimum funds or experience; can switch to Innovator without £50,000. (You still need enough money for your business idea, it just doesn’t need to be at some specific amount). 
Cons: doesn’t lead or count to ILR. 

Innovator pros: leads to ILR after 3 years or more. 
Cons: minimum funds of £50,000, proven business experience. 

Old rules v new rules, pros and cons
Investment down from £200,000 to £50,000. But entrepreneurial teams can’t share. 

No rules on investing or creating jobs within 3 years (can be later). 

ILR accelerated rules are broader and offer more choice. 

English is up to B2. 

Endorsement is needed for all and at every stage up to ILR. 

More posts on new business visa rules 29 March 2019:

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