START UP & INNOVATOR
For people starting, joining or taking over one or more businesses in the Isle of Man
In this section
Start Up & Innovator
The Isle of Man has its own Business Migrant routes, with options for both people with business experience (“Innovator”) and those seeking to establish a business in the Isle of Man for the first time (“Start Up”).
The Isle of Man Business Migrant routes offer significant advantages over the equivalent Start Up and Innovator routes in the UK for those who choose the Isle of Man as the location for their business. As well as the Isle of Man being an attractive and business-friendly environment with a high quality of life, it has excellent access to UK markets.
For the Isle of Man Business Migrant routes, unlike the UK’s Innovator and Start Up routes, there is no need to persuade a registered endorsing body such as a university or tech incubator to endorse the business plan. There is a single endorsing body, the Isle of Man Government Department for Enterprise. The Department is responsible for encouraging inward investment and business migration into the Isle of Man.
The popular Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route has closed to new applications in the UK and in the Isle of Man. As a result, the Isle of Man Business Migrant routes are now the flagship routes for business people and job creators wishing to move to the UK area.
Direct access to Innovator is for established business people with investment funds of at least GBP50,000 and the intention to create jobs in the Isle of Man. It is also possible to enter the Innovator route via the Start Up route. This is a fast-track route which potentially allows acquisition of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the Isle of Man and UK after only three years.
After obtaining ILR and being resident for five years, or a shorter period of three years if married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, it is possible to apply for naturalisation or registration as a full British citizen.
For less experienced business people without the specified investment funds, it is possible instead to start on the entry-level Business Migrant (Start Up). While this route does not give direct access to ILR, it allows up to two years in the Isle of Man to prove the concept of a new business. It is then possible to switch to the Business Migrant (Innovator) for three further years and then ILR.
The Business Migrant routes opened to applications on 6 April 2020, and Kinley Legal is now working with clients seeking Department for Enterprise endorsement and applying for Innovator and Start Up visas. Contact us for more information.
How good does my English need to be?
You will need to demonstrate your English level in a way prescribed under the Immigration Rules, for instance by passing an IELTS for UKVI SELT test at CEFR level B2 across all four subjects.
How innovative does my business idea need to be?
The idea does not need to be "innovative" in the sense of a technology project or being a completely new idea, no element of which has been tried previously. Instead, the business idea must simply be a genuine, original business idea that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
Can I bring my family?
Yes, this category allows a spouse or partner and minor children to move with the main applicant, and they can work, subject to work permits and conditions set out in the Immigration Rules. Older children may need to be considered as a separate case: Kinley Legal can advise on this.
Can I live in the UK on this visa?
This route is designed for people who will spend the majority of their working time managing and developing their business day to day in the Isle of Man. However, provided that you comply with the conditions of the visa, you can visit the UK without restriction, including having a second home there.
Can I obtain this visa together with a business partner?
Yes, multiple people applying at the same time can together establish or invest in the business as an team. However, unlike the previous Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route, the team members cannot share the minimum investment requirements for (Innovator) and will each need to invest a minimum of GBP50,000.
Do I need a criminal record certificate to obtain this visa?
Unlike the previous Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route, there is no requirement for criminal record certificates. However, you will have to disclose all criminal convictions, including those considered spent, as part of your application.
Do I need to pay NHS Surcharge?
No, there is no NHS Surcharge in the Isle of Man. This means that the costs of making an Isle of Man visa application are often considerably cheaper than in the UK.
Do I need to spend all my time in the Isle of Man?
No. You will be expected to spend the majority of your working time managing and developing your business day to day in the Isle of Man, but you can spend time in the UK or elsewhere. You will still be eligible for ILR, provided you have spent no more than 180 days in each year outside the British Islands (the Isle of Man, the UK and the Channel Islands).
Can I work for someone else on this visa?
You cannot be a direct employee of someone else's business, but your businesses may be able to provide your services to other companies.
Do I need a work permit in addition to my visa?
The main holder of a Business Migrant visa is likely to be exempt from the requirement to hold a separate Isle of Man work permit. Your dependants may need work permits: Kinley Legal can help assess this.
I applied for this visa, but have been refused. Can Kinley Legal help?
Yes, contact us as soon as possible so we can discuss your options. Unlike in the UK, in the Isle of Man applicants have a full right of appeal against immigration decisions, which means that if you have wrongly been refused, an appeal can often be heard by an independent immigration judge within weeks.
Isn't it very hard to obtain an endorsement?
Unlike in the UK, where endorsements may only be issued by endorsing bodies such as universities and tech incubators with their own criteria, there is a single endorsing body in the Isle of Man, the Isle of Man Government Department for Enterprise. As this is the government body tasked with encouraging inward investment and business migration into the Isle of Man, we expect it to be much easier for good business ideas to be endorsed in the Isle of Man, compared with the UK. Talk to Kinley Legal about your business idea and we can work together with you and your other business advisers to help ensure successful endorsement.