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January 29, 2021

Interview to Sing Tao News Corporation (Hong Kong): Start-up visa and Innovator visa Changes

Evgeny Pavlov, Managing Director of Mann’s Solutions gave an interview to Sing Tao News Corporation (Hong Kong) about Start-up visa and Innovator visa Changes and what it means for Hong-Kong nationals willing to relocate and start business in the UK.

Please Read the full interview below.

At the beginning of 2019, British Government reformed the original Entrepreneur Visa and in addition to that introduced a Start-up visa and an Innovator visa. The new program has a lower threshold than the original one, the most important thing is to meet 3 conditions which are creativity, feasibility, and scalability.

There are many Hong Kong entrepreneurs who have successfully moved to the UK through Innovator and Start-Up Visas. According to them, the main tips and precautions of entrepreneurship in the UK are understanding the local people’s habits, paying attention to cultural differences, and creation of online platforms to boost your business.

A few years ago, Hong Kong nationals generally applied for Tier-1 Entrepreneur Visa to start a business in the UK, the requirement was to invest 200,000 GBP (about 2 million Hong-Kong dollars) and to create 2 full-time jobs. After 5 years the applicant could apply for permanent residence and then for British Citizenship. 

However, the British Government changed the requirements and introduced Start-Up and Innovator Visas. Now, Entrepreneurs will have to prove that the business meets creativity, feasibility, and scalability conditions. In addition, Business Plans will need to be approved by a specific review agency and before applying for permanent residency, the applicant will have to implement the development plan.

1. What is the difference between the Startup visa and the  Innovator Visa?

There are substantial differences between Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa. Start-up Visa is a route specifically designed for entrepreneurs who don’t have business experience however have clear intentions and business ideas to start a venture in the UK.

Start-up Visa is created as the first step for entrepreneurs in the UK and gives up to 2 years with an option to switch to Innovator Visa afterward. One of the main points of this visa is that the applicant is not required to have the capital for a business, in other words, it means that they can develop their business idea and also work somewhere else part-time to build the viable, scalable and innovative company in the UK. Moreover, Startup Visa does not lead to ILR or Settlement in the UK and applicants can only switch to the Innovator Visa route to obtain ILR and British Passport.

In regards to Innovator Visa, this route is designed for experienced entrepreneurs to establish new ventures with capital from 50,000 GBP. The main criteria of the business are innovation, viability, scalability.

In 3 years, after meeting particular requirements (50,000 GPB investment and patent application) Innovator visa allows applying for the settlement in the UK. However, there are other alternative requirements on this route of obtaining ILR.

2.In what areas does the UK have a greater demand for entrepreneurship?

There are 4 main areas where the UK has a strong presence FinTech, BioTech, EduTech, and ProTech. For example, FinTech – is one of the leading areas in the UK and has one of the largest numbers of unicorn star ups (UNICORNS – a variation of one billion +). Local government authorities, such as Financial contact authorities, FCA, since 2008 establish flexible policies to boost development in this industry, therefore regulations are more flexible and allow entrepreneurs easier to enter the market.

3. Take the catering industry as an example, how can entrepreneurs take a seat in the local area? Or what are the conditions to compete with other entrepreneurs?

To establish themselves in the catering industry, entrepreneurs are required to establish an innovative start-up. Due to the high competition on the market, entrepreneurs should have a good initial capital to stay innovative and competitive. Having a highly professional and experienced team is also important to succeed.

4. In terms of academic requirements, if you have a CEFR B2 level in English reading, writing, listening, speaking, or a bachelor’s degree or above equivalent to a British university, can IELTS be used instead of CEFR? If not, how can applicants prepare?

To pass the English language requirement it is possible to provide an IELTS certificate or a bachelor’s degree from a British University. CERF is only a defined criterion by the government and is not an exam. It is a common European framework of reference of languages.

1. Has your company ever helped to share a successful business case in the UK?

Yes, we have successfully granted a visa for an online Fintech bank with an initial capital of more than 200,000 GBP via the Innovator Visa route.

Contact our Immigration Lawyers – UK Visas

Mann’s Solutions is an international immigration law firm with offices in London, Hong Kong, and Moscow. We are specialised in offering UK Visas and Immigration by Investment services to high net worth individuals. Our immigration lawyers are regulated by OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) and IMC (Investment Migration Council). For further information or to discuss your circumstances in a private consultation with our immigration lawyers in London Office, please contact us at or call +44 207 993 63 46.