PR Newswire

Savory and Partners: The many Business Immigration routes to the UK: Innovator, Start Up, and Expansion Worker

DUBAI, UAE, June 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The UK is home to the world’s fifth-largest economy and of the world’s most dynamic markets. It has a GDP of $2.67 trillion, and its economy has grown an impressive 7.6% and 4% in 2021 and 2022, respectively. It is no surprise, then, that various ambitious entrepreneurs throughout the globe put the UK on their business bucket lists.

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Thankfully, for those entrepreneurs looking to establish or expand their business in the UK, the English-speaking nation has no shortage of enticing business immigration routes; namely, the UK Innovator, Start Up, and Expansion Worker visas.

The UK Innovator Visa

The UK introduced its Innovator Visa in 2019 as a replacement for the now-closed Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to boost its private sector and elevate the country’s innovative start-up scene, which is already quite impressive as the UK ranks 4th on the Global Innovation Index.

The Innovator Visa allows investors with a new idea (new to the UK market) to apply for residence in the UK. The visa is quite popular due to its simplicity and the UK’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) positive environment.

SMEs account for a staggering 99.2% of the total business population in the UK and are responsible for 52% of the country’s total business turnover. Highlighting the government’s focus on nurturing smaller businesses, which makes it an excellent option for entrepreneurs looking to establish their companies. This is made even more accessible through the Innovator Visa.

The Innovator Visa’s requirements are simple, as an applicant must:

  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have an innovative business idea
  • Obtain an endorsement from one of the many government-approved bodies
  • Have a level B2 English Language proficiency
  • Have access to £50,000 in funding
  • Have enough personal funds to support themselves and their families for the duration of their stay in the UK
  • Applicants can add their spouse and dependent children below 18 to their application

Successful applicants will receive a three-year residency permit that can be renewed for the same period. At the end of five years, they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), the UK’s permanent residency permit. One year after obtaining ILR, they can apply for citizenship if they meet the naturalisation requirements.

The UK may also allow successful Innovator Visa applicants to apply for ILR after three years of residency instead of five, but this is subject to specific regulations, and business operation conditions set out by the government. Those who obtain ILR after three years can apply for citizenship after residing for a total of five years instead of the usual six.

The UK Start Up Visa

The Start Up Visa (SUV) is fairly similar in concept to the Innovator Visa. The premise is that applicants who have an innovative, new, and viable business idea can apply for an endorsement from an approved body to obtain residence in the UK.

The requirements for the SUV are:

  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have an innovative business idea
  • Obtain an endorsement from a government-approved body
  • Have a level B2 English Language proficiency
  • Have enough personal funds to support themselves and their families for the duration of their stay in the UK
  • Applicants can add their spouse and dependent children below 18 to their application

The main difference between the SUV and the Innovator Visa is that the SUV is a non-immigrant visa, meaning it does not lead to IRL. It is only valid for two years, and at the end of that period, an SUV holder needs to switch to another visa type in order to remain in the UK. Typically, people will switch to an Innovator Visa due to the similarities of the requirements.

The second difference between the two visas is the minimum investment amount, as while the Innovator Visa does have a set minimum, the SUV doesn’t, which makes it a great option for those with lower capital to start out in the UK while they sort out funding to apply for the Innovator Visa, a matter which is simpler in the UK than many may think. Venture capitalism investment for innovative start ups in the UK grew 30% from £11.5 billion to £15 billion between 2020 and 2021, emphasising the vast funding opportunities available for SUV holders.

The final disparity between the SUV and Innovator Visa lies in the available endorsement bodies. While the Innovator Visa requires applicants to obtain endorsement from government-approved private business incubators, the SUV broadens that perimeter, allowing applicants to get endorsements from any of the following:

  • UK higher education institution
  • a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

The SUV has a much larger pool of endorsement bodies, which also makes it a somewhat more flexible entry point for entrepreneurs, especially those who have graduated from UK education institutes and maintain a good relationship with their universities.

The UK Expansion Worker

The Expansion Worker Visa is part of the UK’s newly-formed Global Business Mobility (GBM) suite of business visas. It replaced the Representative of An Overseas Business Visa in 2022, and it is the best route for those looking to expand their foreign business into the UK by establishing a branch or subsidiary of a foreign business that has not yet traded in the UK.

To qualify for the Expansion Worker Visa, an applicant must:

  • Have a valid certificate of sponsorship from their employer
  • Have worked for their employer outside the UK
  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • Be paid the minimum eligible salary (£42,400 per year or the ‘going rate’) required for their job
  • Have worked for their employer outside the UK for at least twelve months as a senior manager or specialist, unless they are designated as a High Earner with a minimum salary of £73,900
  • Be paid the minimum eligible salary (£42,400 per year or the ‘going rate’) required for their job
  • Applicants can add their spouse and dependent children below 18 years of age

Like the SUV, the Expansion Worker Visa is a non-immigrant visa. It is initially issued for one year and is renewable for one more year. After two years, the visa holder must either switch to another GBM visa (and there are many) or an Innovator Visa.

It is simple to switch from an Expansion Worker Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa, but the pathway for the switch must be planned and carefully constructed. Savory & Partners have a procedure in place to enable that switch come the expiration date of the Expansion Worker Visa, as we help our clients plan their immigration journey with all the requirements needed to seamlessly switch to a Skilled Worker Visa, which does have a pathway to ILR and citizenship.

It is also worth noting that if the UK company has a UK-based director, then it is eligible to employ four expansion workers; however, if it does not have a UK-based director, then only one expansion worker can join.

The Expansion Worker Visa does not have any minimum investment amount, and its simplicity makes it an optimal route to the UK for those looking to expand their business into the country.

Savory & Partners is an accredited agent for multiple governments where citizenship by investment is offered with coverage in over 20 jurisdictions including Europe and was the first firm to obtain all five authorised agent licenses for the governments of the Caribbean Islands. To date it has processed second passports for over 4,000 citizens with a 100 percent success rate. For more information visit www.savoryandpartners.com.

For more information, please send an email to contact@savoryandpartners.com. You can also call +971 04 430 1717 or send a WhatsApp message to +971 54 440 2955

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