COVID 19: Innovator and Start-Up visas
In these unprecedented times, Innovator and Start-Up applicants might find themselves in the situation, where they may experience difficulties fulfilling their business plans and maintaining contact with their endorsing bodies.
The Home Office has been prompt in addressing the issues surrounding Innovator and Start-Up migrants may face due to the Coronavirus outbreak:
1. Individuals who have not yet been endorsed
Endorsing bodies may still issue endorsements. If prospective applicants are outside the UK, the endorsing bodies should ask them whether they are able to make a visa application and to travel. The endorsing bodies should also consider with all applicants whether they are likely to be able to start developing their business in the UK under the current situation. If not, they should consider delaying the applicants’ endorsements until a later date.
2. Individuals who have been endorsed but have not yet applied for a visa
Endorsement letters are valid for 3 months. If an individual is unable to make a visa application within this timeframe, the endorsing bodies will need to issue them with a new endorsement (using a new secure reference number) before they can apply. The endorsing bodies should have a discussion with the applicants (as set out above) before they do so.
3. Individuals who have applied for a visa but are unable to travel
Individuals should refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration guidance on gov.uk website for the latest information.
4. Individuals who are due to have a checkpoint with their endorsing body
Endorsing bodies should maintain contact checkpoints with the individuals they have endorsed wherever possible. It is not necessary for these to be face-to-face. The Home Office encourage endorsing bodies to arrange checkpoints via telephone or video conferencing. It is important for applicants to know that they continue to have the support of their endorsing bodies. The endorsing bodies should make allowances for the current situation when considering the applicants’ progress against their business plans and where possible, discuss future contingencies. The endorsing bodies must notify the Home Office if an applicant misses a checkpoint without their authorisation.
5. Individuals who need to apply to extend their stay
The endorsing bodies should continue issuing endorsements as normal to individuals who are in the UK, whose visas are expiring and who wish to apply to switch into the Start-Up or Innovator categories or to extend their stay in the Innovator category. For those applying to switch from Start-up to Innovator or to extend their Innovator visa, as with the checkpoint guidance above, the endorsing bodies should make allowances for the current situation when considering the applicants’ progress against their business plans and where possible, discuss future contingencies.
At Chan Neill Solicitors we continue assisting clients with their Immigration enquiries. If you are concerned about your current visa or about your prospective visa application, please do not hesitate to contact our Immigration team.