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Start Up Visa vs Tier 2 Innovator Visa ILR Under 10 Years Long Residence.

Once you have been legally resident in the UK for 10 years, you are able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the long residence criteria. The key wording in this is legal; you must ensure you have been in the UK on a visa (or combination of visas) for the length of your stay, and kept within the rules laid out within them. You must also not have broken any immigration laws in this period. To get to 10 years, you will likely have had to combine visas, as this is generally the only way in which you can get to 10 years (most visa routes have a limit lower than 10 years).

Start-Up Visa ILR Under Long Residence

The Start-Up Visa is a newly introduced visa route replacing the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa route. The route allows stays of up to 2 years for new entrepreneurs to get their endorsed business idea off of the ground. Because you will need an endorsement to apply, it is important for your business idea to be as solid as possible, as it will be tested by an expert business endorsing body.

For those who are already in the UK, they may be able to switch to the Start-Up Visa if they are currently on one of the following visa routes:

  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur (please note that you can only spend a combined maximum of 2 years in the UK if you switch from this visa to Start-Up)
  • Any Tier 2 Visa (such as the Tier 2 General Visa)
  • Tier 4 Student Visa
  • Standard Visitor Visa (providing you have a letter from an endorsing body noting you are in the country seeking endorsement)

As long as you are switching from one of the above-mentioned routes and meet the eligibility criteria (you are at least 18 years of age, can prove you can support yourself and satisfy the English language requirements - all of which should be straightforward if you are already in the UK), you will be able to apply for the visa. If successful, you will be given 2 years leave. If this is enough to take you to your 10 years stay then you will be able to apply for ILR up to 28 days before your 10 year period comes up. If not, you will then need to consider switching out of the visa to continue your stay. The most usual next step would be the Innovator Visa - which we will cover in the next section.

Innovator Visa ILR Under Long Residence

The Innovator Visa is the next step on the business immigration visa pathway. Designed to help experienced entrepreneurs, the Innovator Visa allows holders to stay for an initial period of 3 years so that they can work on their business idea. Like the Start-Up Visa, Innovator Visa applicants will need to receive an endorsement from an approved endorsing body.

While you would normally need £50,000 seed investment, if you are upgrading your visa from a Start-Up Visa, this seed funding requirement is removed. You also will not need to seek a new endorsement if you are running the same business being endorsed on your Start-Up Visa. You can also switch to the Innovator Visa from the following visa routes:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • any Tier 2 visa
  • Standard Visitor visa - if you came to the UK to get funding and had a supporting letter from an endorsing body

As long as you are approved for an Innovator Visa, you will receive permission to stay for an initial period of 3 years. Another benefit of this visa is there is no limit on extensions.

ILR Criteria Under Long Residence

In the spirit of fairness, the UK allows those living in the country the option of applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 10 years for those who are unable to settle after 5 (usually down to the specific visa routes they have lived on in the UK). This is the long residence criteria, and it is a very powerful tool for gaining Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

So, how do you qualify? Well, first of all, you need to ensure you have not left the UK for more than 18 months combined in the last 10 years (this will be checked), you also cannot have left the UK for more than 6 months in any individual period during the last 10 years. As well as these very strict criteria, you will also need to ensure your stay has been legal - you can use any combination of visas to get to the 10-year mark, but you must have kept to your visa conditions. You will also need to meet the English language requirements for all visa holders applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is:

  • With a CEFR qualification at B1 level
  • Qualification of Degree level taught in English
  • Come from an English-speaking country

As well as the English language requirements, you will also need to pass the Life in the UK test, have existing leave to remain on your current visa and have no public interest reason to have your application for ILR turned down (i.e you have been involved in an event which makes your stay unsavoury in the UK).

Getting More Help

If you need more help with settling in the UK after 10 years of continuous stay then please get in touch, Our team of expert immigration lawyers can help you compile your application and help to ensure you have the best chance of being accepted. Don’t take a chance, get your application right first time with our expert assistance.

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