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 Options for Entrepreneurs

The options for those wishing to start a business in the UK are now regrettably narrower.


Since 28 March 2019, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur categories were closed to new applicants and have now been "replaced" by the more onerous categories of Innovator and Start-up.


Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) has now ostensibly been re-branded, in the form of Global Talent since 20 February 2020.

The Global Talent visa as well as the Innovator/Start-up visas are based upon the concept of endorsement.


With a new Graduate route, the UK Government seeks to attract international students by offering a post study work visa for the 2020/2021 intake of University students to compensate for the loss of the Post Study work visa in 2012 and the closure of Tier 1 (General) category back in April 2011. However, options for kick starting the UK economy through overseas talent would remain inappropriately limited in a post-Pandemic UK unless further incentives are offered. 


There may be other alternatives according to your particular circumstances. Contact us to examine all your options.

Global Talent


This route involves a two stage application.

Two stage application


If you are an initial applicant (someone who has not previously held leave in this category, or its predecessor Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)), there are two application stages: 


• at stage 1, an endorsing body assesses your skills, abilities and achievements, and advises the Home Office of their decision on whether you should be endorsed; and 


• at stage 2, the Home Office considers immigration aspects, such as whether general grounds for refusal apply and, if you are already in the UK, whether you are able to switch into the Global Talent category.

The Global Talent visa allows you to work and change employers, or to be self-employed without the need to be employed a specific post.

The length of leave you will be granted in an initial application will be between 1 to 5 years.

Endorsing Bodies

There are six endorsing bodies depending on your field of expertise.

Non-academic fields:

Tech Nation continues to accept applications from applicants with technical and business skills in the digital technology sector for the time being.

Arts Council England, for arts and culture.

Academic fields:

The Royal Society, for science and medicine.

The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering.

The British Academy, for humanities.

There are four routes for senior academics and researchers under senior appointments, individual fellowships, endorsed funders or peer review

Applicants can choose to be considered under ‘Exceptional Talent’ (for leaders in their field) or ‘Exceptional Promise’ (for potential leaders in their field). 

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), for research applicants.





Innovator Founder


This category replaced the Start-up and Innovator routes and is also based upon the concept of endorsement by an approved body. However, here the endorsing bodies are UKVI approved business accelerators.


By and large suitable for science, technology and innovation projects this business category could enable any entrepreneur with an innovative idea that can be scaled up relatively quickly and which would be a viable business plan. 

An Innovator Founder is no longer expected to make an investment of £50000 but it must be financially viable and must not be a business that is already trading and the idea must be a novel one. Due diligence checks will be carried out. Secondary employment is allowed.

The category also involves a two stage process although the oversight by the endorser will be required on at least two regular contact points during the period of the visa.

The Innovator Founder visa is granted for three years after which, subject to the relatively high threshold criteria being met, one may qualify for settlement. These and the English language requirement at CEFR B2 may make the Global Talent route an attractive alternative.

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