Tier 1 routes replaced by new
categories for 'Start-ups'
and 'Innovators'

The government has announced the introduction of new categories for those coming to the UK to set up a business. The Start-up category and the Innovators category will replace Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).

Both routes will see endorsing bodies and business experts – rather than the Home Office – qualifying applicants’ business ideas. This will make sure that the routes are focused on only the most innovative, viable and scalable business ventures.

The aim is to protect better against financial crime and ensure investments are of greater benefit to the UK economy.

This follows the recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in 2015. It said that the Tier 1 route was in need of substantial reform.

The changes will take effect from 30 March 2019 and the new categories are as follows:

  • For those creating a new business for the first time in the UK.
  • Applicants will need to acquire a qualifying endorsement but do not need not be graduates nor have initial funding.
  • They will be granted two years’ leave in the first application (an increase from one year) and be able to move to the Innovator category after that time.
  • This route does not lead to settlement.
  • For more experienced business people.
  • Applicants will need an endorsement as well as £50,000 to invest in their business (this has been reduced from £200,000).
  • The category will lead to settlement in the UK in three years, if they meet all other requirements.

Other changes to the Tier 1 (Investor) category

The Tier 1 (Investor) category is for high net-worth individuals making an investment of at least £2 million in the UK. In the latest Statement of Changes, the rules have been tightened up to scrutinise the character and conduct of individuals and the sources of their funds.

  • Currently applicants have to show that they have held the funds that they wish to invest in the UK for 90 days – this will increase to two years.
    The potential investor must now also show that they have gone through all the due diligence checks in order to open a UK bank account before making their application.
  • Investment in UK government bonds is being excluded, to incentivise Tier 1 (Investor) migrants towards other forms of investment which have greater need to attract additional investment funds.

For further details of other changes, please see here.

Smith Stone Walters helps people move to the UK. We understand, manage and support corporate immigration strategies, advising our clients on all aspects of nationality and UK work permit law. 


Share story
Back to top of page