Business Immigration

Innovator Visa

The innovator visa application process was opened from 29th March 2019, replacing the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category. The innovator visa is for experienced foreign entrepreneurs who are bringing or setting up an “innovation, viable and scalable” business in the UK.

The criteria for Innovator visa application is as follows:

  • Required to have at least £50,000 in investment funds
  • Have to be endorsed by a trusted organisation in the UK such as a business accelerator or a seed fund. Please click on the following to see the approved list of endorsing bodies:
  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old and over
  • You must meet the English language requirement
  • Be able to prove that you have sufficient savings to support yourself whilst you are in the UK

Start Up Visa

Start Up visa is a replacement of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route. The aim is to attract “the best global talent”.

You are able to apply under this category if you wish to set up an innovative business in the UK, which must be different from anything else in the market.

To be eligible you must be endorsed by an authorised body who is either:

  • UK higher education institution or
  • Business organisation with history of supporting UK Entrepreneurs

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • a new idea - you cannot join in a business that is already trading
  • innovative - you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable - it has potential for growth

You can stay up to 2 years in the UK under this category if you have a start up visa or you have transferred from another visa to a start up visa.

Global Talent Visa

With effect from 20 February 2020 Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa was replaced with Global Talent Visa. You can apply for a Global Talent visa to work in the UK if you are a leader or potential leader in one of the following fields:

  • academia or research which includes science, medicine, engineering and humanities
  • arts and culture
  • digital technology

To secure an Exceptional Talent visa you firstly have to apply for an endorsement by an organisation approved by the Home Office to prove that you are a leader or a potential leader before you are able to apply for a visa. Your visa application has to be submitted within 3 months of receiving the endorsement letter. You must also be at least 18 years old to apply. Your partner and children also may be able to travel with you or join you in the UK. Please give our immigration solicitors to discuss further.

The previous Exceptional Talent route, allowed researchers in academic, industry or government research institutions to apply by showing that they met certain criteria such as being active researchers, having a PhD etc. The respective endorsing bodies would then go on to consider whether to endorse those falling under this category.

Under the Global Talent visa route, you can be automatically endorsed if:

  • You held a specific fellowship award (or held it within the 12 months directly prior to the date of application); or
  • You were appointed to eligible senior academic or research positions at UK higher education institutions or research institutes.

To be eligible, you must have an eligible job offer as an academic or researcher, or an individual fellowship or a research grant that is approved by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). If you do not have any of the above, you can apply by having your application peer reviewed. Please get in touch with us to discuss further.

Revocation of Sponsorship licence by education provider/employer

If you are in the UK and your employer/sponsor loses its licence, you will have you leave your job and the leave the UK within 60 days or however long you have left on the visa. Alternatively you may be able to make a new visa application to stay in the UK but this has to take place within the 60 days or the time remaining on your visa.

You will be required to leave immediately if you are involved in the reason for your employer losing their licence.

Your sponsorship will also be affected if your employers’ licence is suspended, they have been taken over by another company or they do not renew their sponsor licence. Please give us a call to discuss further.

If you are outside the UK, it is advised that you check the status of your sponsors licence before you travel. If they have lost their licence you will not be allowed to enter the UK. To check the status of your sponsor please visit:

Sponsorship (Sponsor Licence)

If you wish to employ someone to work for you from outside the UK, you are required to sponsor them to enter and work in the UK. This also includes unpaid work i.e. charity. Since Brexit, this also includes citizens from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after the 31 December 2020. Sponsoring someone does not guarantee that they will be allowed to come to or stay in the UK.

In order to get a sponsor licence, your business has to be eligible. You will also have to decide on the type of licence you wish to apply for which is dependent on the type of worker you wish to sponsor. You are also required to allocate the task of managing the sponsorship to someone within your business. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may visit your business to check that it is suitable for the sponsor licence.

If your application for sponsor licence is successful, you will be given a licence rating and will be able to issue sponsorships for that are suitable. The licence will be valid for a period of 4 years. Your licence can be revoked if it is thought that you are not meeting your responsibilities as a sponsor.

To enable you to get a sponsor licence, there is a strict criteria which includes that you cannot have any unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or certain other crimes, such as fraud or money laundering. You sponsor licence also cannot be revoked in the last 12 months.

There are two types of licences:

  • Workers – those with long term job offers or permanent offers. This includes:

    • Skilled Worker – please see our skilled worker section for further details
    • Intra-company visas - this includes Intra-company Transfer and Intra-company Graduate Trainee, for multinational companies which need to transfer established employees or graduate trainees to the UK
    • Minister of Religion - for people coming to work for a religious organisation
    • Sportsperson - for elite sportspeople and coaches who will be based in the UK
  • Temporary workers – this licence will allow you to employ people on a temporary basis, split as follows;

    • Creative or Sporting Worker - to work as a high-level sportsperson (up to 1 year), entertainer or artist (up to 2 years)
    • Charity Worker - for unpaid workers at a charity (up to 1 year)
    • Religious Worker - for those working in a religious order or organisation (2 years)
    • Government Authorised Exchange Worker - work experience (1 year), research projects or training, for example practical medical or scientific training (2 years) to enable a short-term exchange of knowledge
    • International Agreement Worker - where the worker is coming to do a job which is covered by international law, for example employees of overseas governments
    • Seasonal Worker - for those coming to the UK for up to 6 months to do farm work

You can apply for a licence covering one or both types of workers.

You will need to appoint people within your business to manage the sponsorship process when you apply for a licence. You and your staff will be checked to ensure that you are suitable for these roles.

If your application is refused due to a mistake, you can request a review of your application, but this will delay application process. We therefore recommend that you contact a legal representative prior to submitting your application.

Upon approval of your application, you will receive an A-rated licence, which means that you can commence issuing certificates of sponsorship and your business will be listed on the sponsorship register. If at any point you do not continue to meet your sponsor duties, the licence will be downgraded to a B-rating, meaning that you will not be able to issue any new certificate of sponsorship (other than to those that already existing employees looking to extend their stay) until you follow an action plan provided by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and get your rating upgraded to A level again. There is also a fee of £1,476 to obtain an action plan.

Failure to complete your action plan means that you will continue with a B-rating licence and so therefore you will be issued another action plan for improvements and are required to pay another fee. If at the second attempt you have not completed your action plan adequately, you will lose your sponsorship licence.

A certificate of sponsorship will need to be allocated to each foreign worker you wish to employ, which they will use to apply for a visa within 3 months.

You can allocate any of the roles to a UK-based legal representative, apart from the authorising officer role which must be assigned to key personnel within the organisation.

We can help you from start to finish with your Sponsorship Licence application and help you deal with licence following the grant by the Home Office. Our immigration solicitors can advise you on eligibility, documentation and your responsibilities under the Licence. Get in touch with us to discuss your case on 01622 541054.

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