Immigration Rules

Immigration Rules Appendix W: Immigration Rules for Workers

Immigration Rules for Workers

Introduction

A Worker is a person who is coming to the UK for employment-related reasons. At present, the Immigration Rules also contain various categories for workers in Part 5 and Part 6A. The Worker rules in this Appendix currently contain the Start-up and Innovator categories, which were introduced on 29 March 2019. It is anticipated that other categories for workers will be added to this Appendix as the immigration system is reformed over time.

To qualify under these Worker rules, an applicant must meet both of the following:

(a) the general requirements in Part W3 (entry clearance or leave to remain applications) or Part W4 (indefinite leave to remain applications)

(b) the specific requirements in Parts W5 to W6 for the category they are applying under

If the applicant meets the requirements, the application will be granted. If the applicant does not meet the requirements, the application will be refused.

Applications will be decided based on the information provided by the applicant and any other relevant circumstances at the date of decision, except where otherwise stated.

Unless stated otherwise, all migrants arriving in the UK and wishing to enter under these Worker rules must have a valid entry clearance for entry under the relevant category. If they do not have a valid entry clearance, entry will be refused.

Definitions of terms and phrases used in these Worker rules are set out in Annex 1. Defined words are in italics.

Contents

· Part W1: Available categories

· Part W2: Lengths and conditions of leave and curtailment

· Part W3: General requirements – entry clearance and leave to remain

· Part W4: General requirements – indefinite leave to remain

· Part W5: Specific requirements – Start-up

· Part W6: Specific requirements – Innovator

· Annex 1: Glossary

PART W1: AVAILABLE CATEGORIES

This section provides an overview of the name, purpose and main features of each category contained in these Worker rules.

Start-up

This category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. This category offers leave for 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but applicants may progress into the Innovator category below.

Innovator

This category is for more experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. With some exceptions, applicants will have funding to invest in their business. This category may lead to settlement in the UK.

PART W2: LENGTHS AND CONDITIONS OF LEAVE AND CURTAILMENT

This section sets out the lengths of leave that can be granted in each category of these Worker rules, including any time limits and timescales for applying for settlement. It also sets out the conditions of that leave and when that leave may be curtailed.

W2.1 Lengths of leave

(a) If an application is successful, leave will be granted for the time in the table below:

Category Length of leave: initial applications Length of leave: extension applications Maximum time in category
Start-up 2 years 2 years, minus the time already granted in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Start-up categories. 2 years
Innovator 3 years 3 years No time limit

(b) If an applicant has already been granted the maximum time in the category, the application will be refused.

W2.2 Employment conditions of grant

If an application for entry clearance or leave to remain is successful, it will be granted subject to all of the following employment conditions:

(a) no employment as a doctor or dentist in training

(b) no employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach)

(c) if the application is in the Innovator category, no employment other than working for the business(es) the applicant has established

In (c), working for such business(es) does not include any work pursuant to a contract of service or apprenticeship, whether express or implied and whether oral or written, with another business. This means successful applicants cannot effectively fill a position or hire their labour to another business, even if the work is undertaken through contracting with the applicant’s own business or through a recruitment or employment agency.

W2.3 Other conditions of grant

If an application for entry clearance or leave to remain is successful, it will be granted subject to all of the following other conditions:

(a) no recourse to public funds

(b) registration with the police, if this is required by Part 10 of the Immigration Rules

(c) study is permitted, subject to the condition set out in Part 15 of the Immigration Rules

W2.4 Curtailment

(a) Entry clearance or leave to remain may be curtailed as set out in paragraph 323 in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.

(b) In addition, entry clearance or leave to remain in the Start-up or Innovator category may be curtailed if an endorsing body withdraws its endorsement of a migrant or loses its status as an endorsing body for the relevant category.

PART W3: GENERAL REQUIREMENTS – ENTRY CLEARANCE AND LEAVE TO REMAIN

This section sets out the general requirements that all applicants for entry clearance and leave to remain in these Worker rules must satisfy. Applicants must also satisfy the specific requirements in Parts W5 to W6 of these Worker rules for the category they are applying in.

W3.1 Evidence provided with applications

(a) The decision maker will only consider documents received by the Home Office before the date the application is considered.

(b) If specified evidence is missing, a document is in the wrong format (for example, if a letter is not on letterhead paper as specified), or a document does not contain all of the specified information, the decision maker may contact the applicant or his representative in writing to request the correct documents. The requested documents must be received at the specified address within 10 working days of the date of the request.

(c) Documents will not be requested where the decision maker does not think that the submission of missing or correct documents will lead to a grant because the application will be refused for other reasons.

(d) If missing information is verifiable from other documents provided with the application or elsewhere, the decision maker may grant the application despite the error or omission, if they are satisfied that the applicant meets all the other requirements of the Rules.

W3.2 Age

The applicant must be at least 18 years old.

W3.3 Immigration status in the UK

If the applicant is applying for leave to remain, one of the following must apply:

(a) The applicant’s last grant of leave was in the same category as they are applying in.

(b) The applicant’s last grant of leave was in an eligible switching category shown in the table below:

Category the applicant is applying in Eligible switching categories
Start-up · Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
· Tier 2
· Tier 4 (General) – the restrictions in paragraph W3.4 apply
· a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V
Innovator · Start-up
· Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
· Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
· Tier 2
· a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V

W3.4 Restrictions for Tier 4 (General) Students applying in the UK

If the applicant’s last grant of leave was as a Tier 4 (General) Student, the following restrictions apply:

  1. (a) The applicant must have been sponsored as a Tier 4 (General) Student by one of the following:
    1. (i) a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution from one of the following:
      1. · the Higher Education Funding Council for England
      2. · the Scottish Funding Council
      3. · the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
      4. · the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland
    2. (ii) an overseas higher education institution to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the United Kingdom
    3. (iii) an Embedded College offering Pathway Courses
    4. (iv) an independent school
  2. (b) If the applicant was sponsored for their studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency, and the sponsorship is ongoing or ended less than 12 months before the date of application, the applicant must:
    1. (i) have been granted unconditional written consent to make the application by their sponsoring government or agency
    2. (ii) provide a letter from each sponsoring organisation confirming this
    3. The letter must be issued by an authorised official of that organisation and contain contact details which allow it to be verified.

W3.5 Breach of immigration laws

The applicant must not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws, except that any current period of overstaying will be disregarded where any of the exceptions set out in paragraph 39E in Part 1 of the Immigration Rules apply.

W3.6 General grounds for refusal

The applicant must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal set out in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.

W3.7 Credibility assessment

  1. (a) The decision maker must be satisfied that all of the following requirements are met:
    1. (i) The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
    2. (ii) The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
    3. (iii) Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.
  2. (b) The decision maker will take into account any endorsement of the applicant required under these Worker rules, and may also take into account any or all of the following factors:
    1. (i) the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility
    2. (ii) the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history
    3. (iii) declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK
    4. (iv) any other relevant information
  3. (c) The decision maker may request additional information and evidence from the applicant or (where relevant) the applicant’s endorsing body. The requested documents must be received at the specified address within 20 working days of the date of the request.
  4. (d) The decision maker may ask the applicant to attend an interview. If the applicant fails to attend the interview without providing a reasonable explanation, the decision maker may decide the application based on the information and evidence the applicant has already provided.
  5. (e) The decision maker may decide not to carry out the credibility assessment if the application already falls for refusal on other grounds. The decision maker reserves the right to carry out this assessment in any reconsideration of the decision.

W3.8 English language

(a) The applicant must have a B2 level of English language ability, as defined in the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning.

(b) The applicant must show they meet the English language requirement in one of the ways shown in the table below:

1. The applicant is a national of a majority English speaking country

(i) The applicant must provide their current valid passport or travel document for one of the following countries:

· Antigua and Barbuda
· Australia
· The Bahamas
· Barbados
· Belize
· Canada
· Dominica
· Grenada
· Guyana
· Jamaica
· New Zealand
· St Kitts and Nevis
· St Lucia
· St Vincent and the Grenadines
· Trinidad and Tobago
· United States of America (USA)

(ii) If the applicant cannot provide either their current valid original passport or travel document, they must provide all of the following:

(1) full reasons why they cannot provide the documents (acceptable reasons are because the documents are lost, stolen, held elsewhere in the Home Office, or have expired and have been returned to the relevant authorities)

(2) a current national identity document

(3) an original letter from their home government or embassy, which confirms their full name, date of birth and nationality
2. The applicant has a degree taught in English

(i) The applicant must have one of the following qualifications:

(1) a UK Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or PhD.

(2) a qualification which meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK, and was taught or researched in English to the relevant level

(ii) The following requirements apply in the case of (i)(2):

(1) The qualification must be an academic qualification, not a professional or vocational qualification.

(2) The applicant must provide evidence from UK NARIC, confirming the qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK

(3) The evidence from UK NARIC must also confirm the qualification was taught or researched in English to the required level, unless the qualification was awarded in one of the following countries:

· Antigua and Barbuda
· Australia
· The Bahamas
· Barbados
· Belize
· Dominica
· Grenada
· Guyana
· Ireland
· Jamaica
· New Zealand
· St Kitts and Nevis
· St Lucia
· St Vincent and The Grenadines
· Trinidad and Tobago
· United States of America (USA)

(iii) The applicant must provide the certificate of the award, unless either of the following applies:

(1) The applicant is awaiting graduation, having successfully completed the qualification.

(2) The applicant no longer has the certificate and the awarding institution is unable to provide a replacement.

(iv) If the applicant cannot provide the certificate of the award, they must provide an academic transcript (or letter in the case of a PhD qualification) from the awarding institution.
3. The applicant has passed a Secure English Language Test

(i) The applicant must have passed a Secure English Language Test from a provider listed in Appendix O and taken at a Secure English Language Test centre approved by the Secretary of State. The provider’s online booking system will allow the applicant to choose the location of the test.

(ii) The applicant must have met or exceeded the required level in all four components (reading, writing, speaking and listening), unless they were exempted from sitting a component on the basis of a disability.

(iii) Where two or more of the components were examined and awarded together, the applicant must have achieved the required scores in all the relevant components during a single sitting.

(iv) The applicant must provide their unique reference number for the test, which allows their score to be verified using the provider’s online verification system.
4. The applicant met the requirement in a previous successful application

(i) The applicant must have had a previous grant of entry clearance or leave to remain in any of the following categories:

· Start-up
· Innovator
· Tier 1 (General)
· Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)
· Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012
· Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
· Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned on or after 21 April 2011

(ii) The applicant will not meet the requirement if false information or documents were included in relation to the English language requirement, in the application which led to the above grant, whether it was to their knowledge or not.

W3.9 Maintenance funds

  1. (a) The applicant must have at least £945.
  2. (b) If a main applicant and their partner or children are applying at the same time, there must be enough maintenance funds in total, as required for all the applications, otherwise all the applications will be refused.
  3. (c) The funds in (a) above must be held in a personal bank or building society account, where the applicant is the account holder (or one of the account holders in the case of a joint account).
  4. (d) Where the funds are in one or more foreign currencies, the funds will be converted to pound sterling (£) using the spot exchange rate which appears on oanda.com for the date of application.
  5. (e) The funds will not meet the maintenance requirement if any of the following apply:
    1. (i) The funds are in a financial institution listed in Appendix P of the Immigration Rules.
    2. (ii) The funds are not in cash. The decision maker will not accept evidence of shares, bonds, credit cards, overdraft facilities or pension funds.
    3. (iii) The applicant was in the UK illegally, or in breach of their leave conditions, when they obtained any of the funds.
  6. (f) The funds must have been held in the account for a consecutive 90 days, ending no earlier than 31 days before the date of application.
  7. (g) The applicant must provide evidence of the above, which may be in any of the following forms:
    1. (i) personal bank or building society statements
    2. (ii) a building society pass book
    3. (iii) a letter from their bank or building society
    4. (iv) a letter from another financial institution regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) for the purpose of personal savings accounts
    5. (v) a letter from an overseas financial institution regulated by the official regulatory body for the country in which the institution operates and the funds are located
  8. (h) The evidence in (g) must show all of the following:
    1. (i) the name of the account holder
    2. (ii) the account number
    3. (iii) the financial institution’s name and logo
    4. (iv) that the funds in the account have been at the required level throughout the 90-day period
    5. (v) the date of each document
    6. (vi) in the case of personal bank or building society statements, any transactions during the 90-day period
  9. (i) Bank or building society statements must not be mini-statements from automatic teller machines (ATMs) and must be one of the following:
    1. (i) statements printed on the bank’s or building society’s letterhead
    2. (ii) electronic statements, accompanied by a supporting letter from the bank or building society, on company headed paper, confirming the statements are authentic
    3. (iii) electronic statements, bearing the official stamp of the bank or building society on every page
  10. (j) The end date of the 90-day period will be taken as the date of the closing balance on the most recent document provided. Where documents from two or more accounts are submitted, this will be the end date for the account that most favours the applicant.
  11. (k) If the applicant is applying in the Start-up or Innovator categories, they do not need to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from their endorsing body confirms they have been awarded funding of at least £945. In the case of Innovator applicants, this must be in addition to the £50,000 investment funds required in that category.

PART W4: GENERAL REQUIREMENTS – INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN

This section sets out the general requirements that all applicants for indefinite leave to remain in these Worker rules must satisfy. Applicants must also satisfy the specific requirements in Parts W5 to W6 of these Worker rules for the category they are applying in.

W4.1 Evidence provided with applications

The requirements set out in paragraph W3.1 of these Worker rules also apply to indefinite leave to remain applications:

W4.2 Knowledge of language and life in the UK

The applicant must have sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom, as set out in Appendix KoLL of the Immigration Rules.

W4.3 Breach of immigration laws

The applicant must not be in the UK in breach of immigration laws, except that any current period of overstaying will be disregarded where any of the exceptions set out in paragraph 39E in Part 1 of the Immigration Rules apply.

W4.4 General grounds for refusal

The applicant must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal set out in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.

W4.5 Continuous residence

  1. (a) The applicant must have spent a continuous period lawfully in the UK, counted backwards from whichever of the following dates is most beneficial to the applicant:
    1. (i) the date of application for indefinite leave to remain
    2. (ii) the date of decision
    3. (iii) any date up to 28 days after the date of application
  2. (b) The length of the continuous period for each category is set out in the table below:
Category Continuous period needed for settlement? Continuous period can include time in the following categories
Start-up Settlement applications cannot be made in this category. Not applicable
Innovator 3 years Innovator
  1. (c) The applicant’s most recent grant of leave must have been in the category they are applying for indefinite leave to remain in.
  2. (d) Time spent in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man with leave in an equivalent category may also be included in the continuous period.

W4.6 Absences from the UK

  1. (a) Absences from the UK will not break the continuous period if they occur while the applicant had valid leave and they total 180 days or less during any consecutive 12 months.
  2. (b) Absences which count towards the 180-day limit include any of the following:
    1. (i) the time between an applicant’s grant of entry clearance and entering the UK
    2. (ii) trips taken for personal, family or social reasons,
    3. (iii) business trips, including secondments, training and conferences
    4. (iv) absences during annual leave from employment in the UK
    5. (v) absences where the applicant had valid leave when they left the UK and they submitted a successful application for entry clearance before that leave expired
  3. (c) The decision maker may exceptionally allow absences which exceed the 180- day limit if the applicant provides evidence that the reason was due to compelling, compassionate circumstances, such as:
    1. (i) life-threatening illness of the applicant or a close family member
    2. (ii) natural disaster
  4. (d) Where the purpose of the absence was for the applicant to assist with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis overseas, this will not break the continuous period, regardless of the length of the absence.

W4.7 Periods without valid leave

Subject sub-paragraph (a) below, any period without valid leave will break the continuous period:

  1. (a) If the applicant had no valid entry clearance or leave to remain at any time during the continuous period, the continuous period will be paused, but not broken, if any of the following scenarios apply:
    1. (i) The applicant had no valid leave in the UK, but they made a successful leave to remain application and and paragraph 39E in Part 1 of the Immigration Rules applied to them.
    2. (ii) The applicant left the UK when they had valid leave. They made an application for entry clearance before their previous leave expired. That application was subsequently granted.
    3. (iii) The applicant left the UK when they had valid leave. They made an application for entry clearance within 14 days of their previous leave expiring and the decision maker considers that there was a good reason why the application could not be made before the previous leave expired. The reason must have been beyond the control of the applicant or their representative, and an explanation must be provided in or with the application for indefinite leave to remain.
    4. (iv) The applicant left the UK when they had valid leave. They made an application which would fall into (i) or (ii) above, except that it was refused. They then made a further successful application within 14 days of that refusal (or the expiry of the time-limit for making an in-time application for administrative review, or any administrative review or appeal being concluded, withdrawn or abandoned or lapsing).
  2. (b) Time before and after the gap in leave can be combined when counting the continuous period. Time during the gap itself will not, however, count towards the continuous period.

PART W5: SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS – START-UP

This section sets out the specific requirements that applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain in the Start-up category must satisfy.

Applicants must also satisfy the general requirements in Part W3 of these Worker rules.

This section also sets out the requirements for endorsing bodies in this category.

W5.1 Endorsement

  1. (a) All applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain must have been endorsed in this category by an endorsing body listed on the gov.uk website.
  2. (b) The applicant must provide an endorsement letter issued by the endorsing body, which includes all of the following information:
    1. (i) the name of the endorsing body
    2. (ii) the endorsement reference number
    3. (iii) the date of issue, which must be no earlier than 3 months before the date of application
    4. (iv) the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport number
    5. (v) confirmation that the applicant has not previously established a business in the UK (unless the applicant’s last grant of leave was under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category)
    6. (vi) a short description of the applicant’s business venture and the main products or services it will provide to its customers
    7. (vii) confirmation that the applicant’s business venture meets the endorsement criteria in paragraph W5.2 below
    8. (viii) the name and contact details (telephone number, email and workplace address) of an individual at the endorsing body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested
  3. (c) The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and may be a member of an entrepreneurial team.
  4. (d) If the applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start-up category, the endorsement does not need to be from the same endorsing body as the endorsement which led to that grant of leave.
  5. (e) The endorsing body must not have withdrawn the endorsement by the time the application is considered by the decision maker.

W5.2 Endorsement criteria

The endorsement letter must confirm both of the following:

(a) The applicant’s business venture meets all of the requirements in the table below:

Innovation Viability Scalability
The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage. The applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business. There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

(b) The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures.

The requirement in (a) does not apply if the applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, and the endorsement is from the same endorsing body as the endorsement which led to that grant of leave. Instead, the endorsement letter must confirm that the applicant’s business venture is genuine and credible.

W5.3 Endorsing bodies

To qualify as an endorsing body in this category, an organisation must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. (a) The organisation must be one of the following:
    1. (i) a UK higher education institution which meets both of the following requirements:
      1. (1) The institution is a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution from one of the following:
        1. · the Higher Education Funding Council for England
        2. · the Scottish Funding Council
        3. · the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
        4. · the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland
      2. (2) The institution has established processes for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among its undergraduate and postgraduate population.
    2. (ii) An organisation which meets both of the following requirements:
      1. (1) The organisation has a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, including resident workers or it is a new organisation set up for this purpose by another body which has its own track record of this nature.)
      2. (2) The request to become an endorsing body is supported by a UK or devolved government department as being clearly linked to the department’s policy objectives.
  2. (b) The organisation must be able to competently assess applicants’ business ventures against the endorsement criteria set out in these Worker rules.
  3. (c) The organisation must agree to all of the following responsibilities:
    1. (i) To stay in contact with those they have endorsed at checkpoints 6, 12 and 24 months after their application is granted
    2. (ii) To inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
      1. (1) The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture
      2. (2) The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria set out in these Worker rules
    3. (iii) To inform the Home Office if an applicant misses any of these checkpoints without the endorsing body’s authorisation
    4. (iv) To withdraw its endorsement if either (ii) or (iii) applies, unless it is aware of exceptional and compelling reasons not to withdraw its endorsement, and informs the Home Office of those reasons
    5. (v) To inform the Home Office if it has any reason to believe that an individual it has endorsed breaches any of their conditions.
  4. (d) The organisation must not be connected to past or present abuse of the immigration system.

PART W6: SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS – INNOVATOR

This section sets out the specific requirements that applicants for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain in the Innovator category must satisfy.

Applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain must also satisfy the general requirements in Part W3 of these Worker rules.

Applicants for indefinite leave to remain must also satisfy the general requirements in Part W4 of these Worker rules.

This section also sets out the requirements for endorsing bodies in this category.

W6.1 Endorsement

  1. (a) All applicants for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain must have been endorsed in this category by an endorsing body listed on the gov.uk website.
  2. (b) The applicant must provide an endorsement letter, issued by the endorsing body, which includes all of the following information:
    1. (i) the name of the endorsing body
    2. (ii) the endorsement reference number
    3. (iii) the date of issue, which must be no earlier than 3 months before the date of application
    4. (iv) the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport number
    5. (v) a short description of the applicant’s business venture and the main products or services it provides (or will provide) to its customers
    6. (vi) confirmation that the applicant’s business venture meets the endorsement criteria in paragraph W6.3, W6.6 or W6.7 below (as appropriate)
    7. (vii) the name and contact details (telephone number, email and workplace address) of an individual at the endorsing body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested
  3. (c) if the endorsement is under the new business criteria, the applicant will not need to provide the evidence in paragraph W6.5 below for any investment funds where the endorsement letter confirms:
    1. (i) the endorsing body is providing the funds
    2. (ii) the endorsing body has verified the funds are available from other sources (including the applicant themselves)
    3. (iii) the endorsing body has verified that the funds have already been invested in the applicant’s business
  4. (d) The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and may be a member of an entrepreneurial team.
  5. (e) If the applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Start-up or Innovator category, the endorsement does not need to be from the same endorsing body as the endorsement which led to that grant of leave.
  6. (f) The endorsing body must not have withdrawn the endorsement by the time the application is considered by the decision maker.

W6.2 New business or same business – definitions

  1. (a) An applicant may be endorsed under the “new business” endorsement criteria if either of the following apply:
    1. (i) The application is an initial application.
    2. (ii) The application is an extension application, and the applicant is pursuing a different business venture from the one that was assessed in the endorsement which led to their previous grant of leave.
  2. (b) An applicant may be endorsed under the “same business” endorsement criteria if both of the following apply:
    1. (i) The applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Start-up or Innovator category.
    2. (ii) The applicant is pursuing the same business venture that was assessed in the endorsement which led to that grant of leave.
  3. (c) An applicant may be endorsed under either the “new business” or the “same business” criteria if both of the following apply:
    1. (i) The applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start-up category.
    2. (ii) The applicant is pursuing the same business venture that was assessed in the endorsement which led to that grant of leave.

W6.3 Endorsement criteria – new business

If the applicant is relying on endorsement under the new business criteria, the endorsement letter must confirm both of the following:

(a) The applicant’s business venture meets all of the requirements in the table below:

Innovation Viability Scalability
The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage. The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business. There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

(b) The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing business ventures.

W6.4 Investment funds – new business

(a) If the applicant’s endorsement was given under the new business endorsement criteria in paragraph W6.3 above, at least £50,000 funds must be available to the applicant to invest in their business. This may include funds which have already been invested in the business.

(b) If the endorsement letter confirms that at least £50,000 funds are available or have been invested in the applicant’s business, no further evidence of investment funds is required.

(c) If the endorsement letter does not confirm that a full £50,000 funds are available or have been invested, the applicant must provide the documents in paragraph W6.5 below as evidence of the remaining balance of their £50,000 investment funds.

(d) If the business venture has one or more other team members who are applying for, or have been granted, leave in the Innovator category, they cannot share the same investment funds. There must be at least £50,000 investment funds available for each Innovator team member. These additional funds are not needed for team members who are resident workers or who have leave under another category of the Immigration Rules, which allows them to engage in business.

W6.5 Evidence of investment funds – new business

If they are required to by paragraph W6.4(c) above, the applicant must provide the following evidence of investment funds:

  1. (a) If any of the funds are available from a UK organisation which employs at least 10 people, the applicant must provide a letter from that organisation confirming this. The letter must include:
    1. (i) a signed declaration from the funding provider, dated no earlier than 3 months before the date of application, setting out all of the following:
      1. (1) how they know the applicant
      2. (2) the amount of funding they are making available in pounds sterling (£)
      3. (3) confirmation that this funding has not been promised to any other person or business for another purpose
    2. (ii) the name and contact details (telephone number, email and workplace address) of an individual at the organisation who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested
  2. (b) If any of the funds are available from an overseas organisation, a UK organisation which employs less than 10 people, or an individual person, the applicant must provide all of the following:
    1. (i) a signed declaration from the funding provider, dated no earlier than 3 months before the date of application, setting out all of the following:
      1. (1) how they know the applicant
      2. (2) the amount of funding they are making available in pounds sterling (£)
      3. (3) confirmation that this funding has not been promised to any other person or business for another purpose
    2. (ii) a letter from a legal representative (who is registered to practise legally in the country where the third party or the money is), confirming that the declaration and signature in (1) above is genuine
    3. (iii) a bank letter, confirming that the funds are held in a regulated financial institution(s). The letter must be dated no earlier than 1 month before the date of application. If the institution is outside the UK, the letter must also confirm that the funds are transferrable to the UK.
  3. (c) If any of the funds are held by the applicant, they must provide either of the following:
    1. (i) bank statements, showing the funds are held in the UK in an institution regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The statements must cover a consecutive 3 months, ending no earlier than 1 month before the date of application.
    2. (ii) a bank letter, confirming that the funds are held in a regulated financial institution(s). The letter must be dated no earlier than 1 month before the date of application. If the institution is outside the UK, the letter must also confirm that the funds are transferrable to the UK.

If these documents do not show that the applicant has held the funds for at least 3 months, the applicant must also provide the signed declaration and letter from a legal representative set out in paragraph (b)(i) and (ii) above, in relation to the organisation or person who provided the funds to the applicant.

  1. (d) If any of the funds have already been invested in the applicant’s business, the applicant must provide either of the following evidence, showing the amount that has been invested:
    1. (i) business accounts, showing the name of the accountant and the date they were produced
    2. (ii) business bank statements
  2. (e) If any of the evidence above shows that funds are available to the applicant’s business rather than to the applicant themselves, or have been invested in the business, the applicant must provide a Companies House document showing their connection to the business. This document is not needed if the endorsement letter confirms the applicant’s connection to the business.
  3. (f) Any funds in a foreign currency will be converted to pounds sterling (£) using the spot exchange rate which appeared on www.oanda.com on the date of application.
  4. (g) Funds will not be accepted if they are held in a financial institution which the Home Office is unable to make satisfactory verification checks with, as listed in Appendix P of the Immigration Rules.

W6.6 Endorsement criteria – same business

If the applicant is relying on endorsement under the same business criteria, the endorsement letter must confirm all of the following:

(a) The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.

(b) The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.

(c) The business is active and trading.

(d) The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.

(e) The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

(f) The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on continuing to develop business ventures.

W6.7 Endorsement criteria – settlement

If the applicant is making a settlement application, the endorsement letter must confirm both of the following:

  1. (a) The applicant meets all of the same business endorsement criteria set out in paragraph W6.6(a)-(e).
  2. (b) The applicant’s business venture meets at least two of the following requirements:
    1. (i) At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.
    2. (ii) The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.
    3. (iii) The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
    4. (iv) The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
    5. (v) The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
    6. (vi) The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
    7. (vii) The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).
  3. (c) If the applicant is relying on the criteria for creating jobs:
    1. (i) The jobs must have existed for at least 12 months and comply with all relevant UK legislation, including (but not limited to) the National Minimum Wage Regulations in effect at the time and the Working Time Regulations 1998.
    2. (ii) Each of the jobs must involve an average of at least 30 hours of paid work per week. Two or more-part time jobs that add up to 30 hours per week may be combined to represent the equivalent of a single fulltime job, as long as each of the jobs has existed for at least 12 months. However, a single full-time job of more than 30 hours of work per week does not count as more than one full-time job.
  4. (d) An applicant may qualify under any combination of two of the above criteria, even if they are similar. For example, an applicant will have met two criteria if their business has an annual revenue of £1 million, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
  5. (e) An applicant cannot qualify by relying on the same criterion twice. For example, an applicant who has invested £100,000 (2 x £50,000) in their business venture will be considered to have met one criterion, not two.
  6. (f) If the business venture has one or more other team members who are applying for, or have been granted, settlement in the Innovator category, they cannot share the same means of meeting these criteria. For example, if two applicants are both relying on the requirement to have created 10 jobs, 20 jobs must have been created in total.

W6.8 Endorsing bodies

To qualify as an endorsing body in this category, an organisation must meet all of the following requirements:

  1. (a) The organisation must demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, including resident workers. (Exceptionally this requirement may be waived, for example where a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own track record.)
  2. (b) The request to become an endorsing body must be supported by a UK or devolved government department as being clearly linked to that department’s policy objectives.
  3. (c) The organisation must be able to competently assess applicants’ business ventures against the endorsement criteria set out in these Worker rules.
  4. (d) The organisation must agree to all of the following responsibilities:
    1. (i) To stay in contact with those they have endorsed at checkpoints 6, 12 and 24 months after their application is granted
    2. (ii) To inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
      1. (1) The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture
      2. (2) The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria set out in these Worker rules
    3. (iii) To inform the Home Office if an applicant misses any of these checkpoints without the endorsing body’s authorisation
    4. (iv) To withdraw its endorsement if either (ii) or (iii) applies, unless it is aware of exceptional and compelling reasons not to withdraw its endorsement, and informs the Home Office of those reasons
    5. (v) To inform the Home Office if it has any reason to believe that an individual it has endorsed is working outside of their own business ventures, in breach of their conditions
  5. (e) The organisation must not be connected to past or present abuse of the immigration system.

ANNEX 1: GLOSSARY

This annex provides definitions for terms used in italics in these Worker rules.

decision maker means an entry clearance officer, immigration officer or the Secretary of State as the case may be.  
endorsing body means an organisation which has been approved by the Home Office to endorse applicants in the relevant category.

Except where otherwise stated, references to an endorsing body mean:

(a) the endorsing body relied upon to support the current application
(b) where there is no current application for the individual concerned, the endorsing body relied upon to support the application which led to their most recent grant of entry clearance or leave to remain
 
endorsement letter means an official letter issued by an endorsing body, confirming that the endorsing body has endorsed the applicant in the relevant category.  
extension application means an application for entry clearance or leave to remain in the same category as the applicant’s most recent grant of leave (other than as a visitor). An entry clearance application will only be considered to be an extension application if it is made within 12 months of the previous leave expiring.  
initial application means any application which is not an extension or settlement application. This will normally mean that the applicant is applying to enter a category for the first time.  
resident worker means any of the following:

(a) a British citizen
(b) a person with a right of residence under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 (as amended)
(c) a British overseas territories citizen, except those from Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus
(e) a Commonwealth citizen with leave to enter or remain granted under the UK Ancestry category
(f) a person with settled status in the UK within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 (as amended)
 
settlement means indefinite leave to remain.