Innovator and Start up Visas – deader than the Monty Python parrot?

The Government, in its wisdom, through the Home Office, replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa on 29 March 2019 with 2 new visas called the Start Up vis and the Innovator visa. They did this to tighten up on the type of entrepreneur who the UK government wants to see coming to live and work in the UK.

The new visas require the applicant to have a business that is innovative, scaleable and viable and the business plan has to be endorsed by an endorsing body.

We are now 3 months on from the introduction of the 2 new visas so it is a good time to ask the question: how are the new visas coming along? How many have been granted?

Tragically, these new visas are not working. None have been granted as far as we are aware. Endorsing bodies are not prepared to consider business plans for endorsement unless the applicant is already part of their incubator or accelerator programme. To back that up, we are aware of just a handful of endorsements from endorsing bodies for entrepreneurs on an accelerator programme.

Endorsers are not allowed to charge for the service of considering a plan for endorsement. Therefore why would they want to consider an “outsider” (someone not on their programme) for endorsement? Endorsers are not a charity.

We also happen to think that the condition of the business needing to be “innovative” is wrong and should be removed. This condition prevents an entrepreneur, for example, opening a restaurant and creating jobs and paying taxes in the UK unless the owner does not want to come and live and work in the UK.

We also think the condition that the entrepreneur has to spend all their time on this business should be removed. Often entrepreneurs have other businesses in other countries. They need to be able to move around.

We have a queue of clients who want to apply for the entrepreneur visa but cannot at the moment. We try to consider them for other visa options. We understand the applications for Exceptional Talent visa (one of the options) have increased by 45% in the last few months. There is also the option of tier 2 sponsor licence and then to come in as a high earner (£160kpa plus).

The UK government does not appear to be listening to the criticisms it is facing over the terms on which it has introduced these new visas. Is it really deliberately trying to exclude entrepreneurs from coming to live and work in the UK? That is the way it looks.

These 2 visas can be likened to the parrot in the famous and hilarious Monty Python sketch. The shop (Home Office) claims there is nothing wrong with the parrot (a Norwegian Blue with beautiful plumage pining for the fjords), but the owner (immigration advisers) knows it is clearly dead and has been since the start.


Tom Redfern