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2020 SME Update - Business Visas & Grants

Like the other countries, Coronavirus has impacted the UK Businesses as well as Visa policies and we would like to take the opportunity to shed some light on how currently B&F Services is helping overseas entrepreneurs and investors to take their Visa to the UK. As always, we are keen to work with you solicitors, migration lawyers and business consultants to assist companies and individuals starting their business in the UK.
It is not that long ago that we sent newsletters regarding the UK Government’s Business visa updates. But recently, the government has announced changes to the eligibility criteria for the Start-up, the Innovator and the Sole Rep visa. These changes took effect on 4 June 2020. In this blog we look at the planned changes to the named visa eligibility criteria.


If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you have not been able to travel to the UK, you may still be eligible for a visa. The government will consider all applications on a case by case basis. Contact us for more information



According to the Home Office officials’ decision, if Start-up visa or Innovator visa applicants meet the eligibility criteria, they will be able to request further information or evidence from the visa applicant or the Endorsing Body that endorsed the visa application.
Before these updates, endorsement by the Endorsing Body was actually a guarantee for the second stage of the visa application process. After the 4 June, Home Office caseworkers have had the right to ask questions and raise concerns if they doubt that the endorsement by an Endorsing Body has been issued appropriately to the Start-up visa or Innovator candidates.
Moreover, the updated immigration Rules say that Start-up and Innovator visa applicants must be:
  • Founders of their business
  • Relying on their own business plans and have generated the ideas in the business plan or made a significant contribution to those ideas
  • Responsible for executing the business plan


Some of the key updates in applying for this visa include:
  • ownership of an overseas business is not limited to businesses that issue shares, it includes ownership by any arrangement
  • the dependent partner (of the main applicant) cannot have a majority stake, own or control the overseas business under any arrangement
Other updates, clarify the existing position, including:
  • that only genuine applicants can apply
  • the overseas parent company will need to continue to have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
  • both the overseas parent company and the intended UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary must be actively trading in the same type of business
  • the applicant needs to have the skills, experience and knowledge of the business necessary to undertake the role and have full authority to negotiate and take the operational decisions on behalf of the business
  • the applicant will not engage in business of his own nor represent any other business’ interest in the UK
There are also other changes including:
  • clarification that applicants must be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team, relying on their own business plan, and responsible for executing the plan
  • an Innovator visa applicant’s business may have already started trading but the applicant must be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team
  • the “Viability” criteria is to be expanded, requiring the applicant’s business plan to be realistic and achievable based on the applicant’s available resources
  • allowing applicants to change business venture, as long as the endorsing body is satisfied that the new venture meets all of the requirements for endorsement, and without the need to obtain fresh endorsement or submit a new visa application


If your Start Up Visa, Innovator Visa and Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa endorsement application has been refused, we can help you as your business concept may only need some minor amendments in order for it to be approved. With our excellent connections with several endorsing bodies, we can help you to get back on the right tracks. Contact us here


Small Business Updates

Following the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic on both individuals and businesses around the world, the UK Government announced on 17 March 2020 a new package of relief measures which aim to help businesses which have been impacted or which have had to close. Read the following sections:

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Launching from 23 March 2020, the new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme has been primarily supporting small and medium-sized businesses to access short-term cash flow support from accredited lenders.
This scheme can provide up to £5m for smaller businesses across the UK who are experiencing lost or deferred revenues, leading to disruptions to their cashflow. All UK-based businesses will be eligible for the scheme so long as their annual turnover is less than £45 million. Read more here 

Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses affected by coronavirus

For businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality trades (including shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas, hotels and similar accommodations and live music venues), the UK Government has announced both a cash grant of up to £25,000 as well as a business rates payments ‘holiday’ in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme allows businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of £15,000 and under to receive a cash grant of £10,000, while properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.
Check if you're eligible for the coronavirus Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund


Small business start-up grants

The available start-up grants are for the following sectors:
The Lottery Heritage Fund supports heritage projects ranging from designed landscapes to cultural traditions.
Innovate UK provides government grants to “develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base”.
Research and Development tax reliefs support companies seeking to research or develop an advancement in their field (even if the project is unsuccessful).
Read more here


Small business grants for young people

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government is going the extra mile to support young business owners aging between 18 to 30 setting up a £5 million Enterprise Relief Fund. To be eligible, you need to have set up your business within the last four years and not have any other source of income during the pandemic.

New Enterprise Allowance

This scheme gives you mentoring and an allowance if you want to start, or develop, a business. To be eligible, you will need to be over 18 and either:
  • get Universal Credit, Job Seeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance (or have a partner who does)
  • be a lone parent, sick or disabled and on Income Support
Your mentor will need to approve your business plan. After that, you may get an allowance of up to £1,274 over 26 weeks. You should speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach if you want to apply for the New Enterprise Allowance to help start or develop your own business. Read more


Grants for taking on an apprentice

According to this scheme, you can get financial help from the government to train an apprentice in your small business. If your pay bill is less than £3 million a year, you won’t pay the apprenticeship levy. This means you get 5% towards the cost of training and assessment for your apprentice, if the apprenticeship started on or after 1 April 2019.
The government pays their 95% share and you also pay your share both directly to the training organisation, according to a payment schedule you agree with the training organisation. Find out more

With a strong presence in London over the last 15 years, B&F Services have successfully worked with 3000+ businesses and raised over £55,000,000 fund for small businesses to-date and have helped start-ups and investors to settle in the UK. Find out more about our team

We hope that you find our email useful and informative. Our company also offers free consultation which could help you decide better and achieve your goals easier.


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