Visa Routes for Migrant Entrepreneurs - | Hudson McKenzie

Visa Routes for Migrant Entrepreneurs

The Role of UK Immigration:

The UK’s immigration system is constantly evolving in line with its steadfast and burgeoning economy. Upon consideration of the entirety of the Brexit process; the persistent rivalry between May and Corbyn, the rise of the present prime minister Boris Johnson and the elongated negotiations with Ministers of the European Parliament (MEPs), the UK has had its fair share of political tomfoolery. 

Yet, despite all these irksome implications, the UK has maintained an accomplished economy.  It’s secured status of being the sixth-largest economy globally, with GDP at $2.74 trillion (2019), having a low unemployment rate of 3.7% (2019), it is an attractive location to invest. What is another profound achievement is the implementation of the new points-based immigration system effective from 29th March 2020.  With the perspective of solely attracting overseas skilled and specialist labour to further its high wage and highly productive economy, the UK is a haven for investment opportunities and business development.

Visa Routes:

In March 2019, the Home Office abolished the traditional ‘Entrepreneur Visa’ and replaced it with two new and revitalised visa routes for overseas non-EEA nationals and business professionals who wish to establish their business and ideas in the UK.

Start-Up Visa

This type of visa is for individuals who are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and wish to set up a business in the UK for the first time. Individuals may commence the process of setting up their own business prior to obtaining this visa but it cannot start trading until applications are approved.

This visa is valid for up to 2 years and is not subject to extension. In this time, individuals will spend time developing their businesses. However, they are also permitted to work elsewhere in addition to this with the aim of supporting themselves financially in the UK.

At the end of the two-year visa duration, individuals can switch to the Innovator visa.

Innovator Visa

This type of visa is for individuals who are from outside EEA or Switzerland, are experienced in setting up business structures and ventures and who wish to set up a business in the UK.

You can stay in the UK for up to 3 years. This visa is subject to extension and you can extend it as many times as you wish. However, individuals are not permitted to take on other courses of employment in their visa duration as they must solely focus on their business development.

Should individuals wish to settle in the UK, they will be eligible to apply for an ‘Indefinite Leave to Remain’ (ILR) on condition you have stayed in the UK for the full 3 years of this visa.


To qualify for both visa categories, you must satisfy the following criteria:

  • You have been endorsed by an authorised body
  • You can show that your business is:
    i) a brand-new idea
    ii) original and advanced- different from others on the market
    iii) practical with potential for growth and expansion
  • You are at least 18 years of age
  • You meet the English language requirements

For a Start-Up visa, you must also show you have enough personal savings to sustain yourself in the UK. The minimum monetary threshold is £945.00 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days prior to your application.

For an Innovator visa, you must also show you have the minimum monetary threshold of £945.00 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days prior to your application as well as at least £50,000 in investment funds. The investment funds requirement will be precluded if your business is already set up and has been endorsed for a premature visa.

Family members:

Dependants (family members) can accompany these business individuals to the UK on both visa categories. They must apply online either as a dependent partner or dependent child. Individuals must also have £630 in savings for each dependant, in addition to the personal savings for each visa stipulated above.

Should you have any queries regarding the above information or if you would like assistance with your visa application, please get in touch with a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at or by telephone +44 (0)20 3318 5794.