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The United Kingdom’s new innovator visa was brought to life on 29 March 2019. The Immigration Rules describe the scheme in fairly simple terms as a category “for more experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK” who have an “an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body”.
The criteria and eligibility for this visa scheme has been baffling entrepreneurs all over the world who once considered the United Kingdom as a country to establish their business. The proposed three-point criteria have proven to be quite complex and difficult to obtain in practical terms.
Unfortunately, after eight months of the commencement of the scheme, the Home Office has not received a good response in terms of the number of applications. The Innovator visa has seen an overall of 14 applications in its first six months of operation. If compared to the 997 applications for its predecessor visa, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), over the same period last year, the scheme has proven unsuccessfully in its mission to “enhance the UK’s offer to overseas entrepreneurial talent“.
Recent figures published by the Home Office indicate that there were ten entry clearance applications for an Innovator visa between June and September 2019, in a slight improvement on the four applications recorded in April-June 2019. The only good side of that is that 12 out of those 14 applicants have been approved. Applicants who do meet the criteria for endorsement seem fairly likely to be waved through.
The issue with the scheme is that the visa category is extremely unappealing to the “clientele” it was originally designed. Far too many restrictions and lack clarity seem to place a burden on entrepreneurs to most of them are unwilling to commit. It makes the application more of a gamble than a business decision.
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