The UK Government officially closed its Investor Visa (Tier 1) on the 17th February, 2022, leaving the relatively new Innovator Visa as the sole investment migration route to the United Kingdom.
A statement on the government website reads: “The Home Secretary has taken decisive action to shut the Tier 1 Investor Visa route to all new applicants from all nationalities with immediate effect. The route had allowed entry and stay in the UK if an applicant invested funds in share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.”
Many sources believed geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine was a driver in the decision. However, Home Secretary Priti Patel maintained that safeguarding the UK immigration system was the critical factor taken into consideration.
This sudden news means that foreign investors looking to relocate to the UK must now consider another access route.
The closure of the popular Investor Visa, which granted over 4,500 investors and their families resident permits during the past twenty years, means that only one UK investment-driven immigration route remains – the Innovator Visa.
Relatively new, the UK government introduced the Innovator Visa in early 2019 as a modernized investment migration option to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.
The objective of the Innovator Visa is to attract more scalable, innovative businesses and outstanding talent to the UK. This approach is helping to bolster the economy through the progression of R&D, innovation, and modernization.
The requirements of the Innovator Visa rely on potential and human factors rather than just on financial criteria. Any applicant who has an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea endorsed by a certified body, has a proficiency of B2 in English, and has access to capital starting from GBP 50,000 to establish their business in the UK can obtain an Innovator Visa.
The UK Innovator Visa initially started out slow, granting 42 permits in its inaugural year. But that number grew quickly as the Government issued 222 and 322 visas in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The growing demand for the Innovator Visa can be attributed to the closure of other investment migration programmes, such as the Entrepreneur and Investor Visas, but the route itself boasts a wide variety of advantages that make it one of the best options the UK has ever had.
Before dissecting the Innovator Visa’s benefits, it is paramount to make the distinction between passive and active investment.
The now-closed Investor Visa relied on a passive investment of more than GBP 2,000,000. This investment took the form of share or loan capital invested into UK companies. Those companies used that capital how they saw fit, and an investor could have distributed that capital throughout as many companies as they liked.
On the other hand, the Innovator Visa relies on an active investment, which translates to establishing and being actively involved on a day-to-day basis. While the capital required is less compared to the Investor Visa, the dedication and active participation in the business is higher.
However, while it does require greater attention, the Innovator Visa comes with a wide array of benefits to provide foreign investors inbound to the UK with a robust alternative to the Investor Visa.
RIF Trust offers two potential routes to acquiring an Innovator Visa:
Option 1: Matchmaking
RIF Trust will help match foreign investors with a venture and the investor will invest a minimum of £250,000 in the business which already has a well thought out business plan, market research, and become a co-founder of the business.
Option 2: Business Plan
Rather than be matched with another partner and business – the investor will be responsible for creating their own business with their own business idea. RIF Trust will assist the investor to create a business plan demonstrating how their business is innovative, viable, and scalable. This plan will be submitted to an Endorsing Body. A minimum of £50,000 of available funds must be demonstrated; however, in practice the Endorsing Body will want to ensure that the business is financially viable and that sufficient business capital is available.
The Role of the Endorsing Body
As demonstrated by the closure of the Investor Visa, the UK Government places a high value on the integrity of the immigration framework.
The endorsing body, in addition to its role of reviewing the business plan, will remain in contact with the business founders and provide support to help with the growth of the business. They are also responsible for monitoring the business and reporting any significant concerns to the Home Office.
The Innovator Visa can potentially yield a significant ROI, as innovative startups that do succeed can make returns many thousands of percent for the investor. The foreign investor will also be able to use their entrepreneurial and international experience to contribute to the business’ success.
The closure of the Investor Visa has left an investment migration vacuum in the UK, one that the Innovator Visa can help fill. However, it is imperative to first qualify for the Innovator. To do that, an applicant needs the help of experts in the field.
At RIF Trust, we have a dedicated UK-based team specialized in the Innovator Visa. This team analyses the specific case of each investor and provides them with a proposition suiting their portfolio and objectives, ensuring the best possible outcomes in terms of both immigration and business viability.
RIF Trust’s intimate knowledge of the Innovator Visa, coupled with the expertise of its dedicated UK team, provides unmatched services for those looking to relocate to the UK through the last standing investment migration option.
If you are interested in learning more about the Innovator Visa, contact us today to book a complimentary and comprehensive consultation with one of our residency and citizenship advisors.