Goodbye Investor, hello Innovator

Goodbye Investor

John Courtney discusses the nuts and bolts of two Government visa schemes. One was recently terminated, while the other offers talented business persons the chance to set up camp in the UK.

Although the UK Government’s Tier 1 Investor Visa is no longer available, the Innovator Visa scheme is there to fill the gap. In brief, the Investor Visa focussed on high net-worth individuals, many of whom had little or no business experience but were offered the chance to remain in the country provided they made a sizeable investment in the UK economy.

The purpose of this visa, which does not exist anymore, was to attract those who wanted to establish and develop a business in the UK. However, the Innovator Visa is still alive and kicking, but aimed at the more experienced business individual. These are men and women who have a minimum of £50k to invest in a business.

So why did the Investor Visa end? The Home Office decided that more was needed to be done to prevent the so-called ‘corrupt elite’ from exploiting the UK for their own gain. This seems particularly interesting in light of the current tragedies unfolding in the Ukraine, and complaints made against the current Government for their handling of Russian oligarchs ‘ most of who have settled in and around the capital.

I wrote an article recently on how the Innovator Visa was aimed at creating jobs by bringing businesses to the UK, while the purpose of the Investor Visa was to boost existing ones with overseas investment.

The Investor Visa was ended abruptly for fear that ‘ by giving notice ‘ this would trigger a ‘closing down sale,’ leading to a flood of applications from the very people the UK Government did not wish to attract. Unfortunately, this left many deserving applicants out in the cold. And this is where the Innovator Visa can be used.

So what is the difference between the two visas? While the ‘Investor‘ allows UK businesses to be passively funded, the ‘Innovator’ requires a more hands-on role. The Innovator Visa is available to those who want to take an active role in the company. The Investor Visa, meanwhile, had required a minimum investment of £2m, while offering these people the opportunity to remain permanently in the UK after five years ‘ or after three years if they were prepared to stump up £5m.

The Innovator Visa is a three-year scheme that requires just £50k of funding per applicant. It’s a cheaper and faster route to living in the UK for those with the talent and ideas to launch a new business.

One of the key clauses within the Innovator Visa is that more than one founder can apply under the same business. This means that if you lack experience in certain areas, you can hire additional support to kick-start your company, while spending far less than if you’d taken the now closed ‘investor visa’ route. Once you’ve formulated your business plan, there’s plenty of support here in the UK to fill the gaps.

For example, if your skill is in finance but not marketing, you could hire a part-time marketing director. This will help you to reach customers quickly, and therefore scale-up rapidly. And this is where endorsing bodies enter the frame. These are existing successful companies chosen by the UK Government to help select those applications which, they believe, offer the greatest potential to the country. You can find out more about endorsing bodies by clicking here.

We have the expert knowledge to review the strategic plans of applicants. Our partners have amassed many years of experience and are well placed to provide innovative, viable and scalable ideas for your business. Not only will we skilfully direct you towards receiving an Innovator Visa, but we can also support your business while here in the UK. We already assist many UK businesses with their day-to-day needs.

John Courtney
John Courtney

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