The Home Office has updated its guidance for endorsing bodies under the Start-up and Innovator routes in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
• endorsing bodies can continue to issue endorsements. However, it should be frank with applicants and check if they are able to travel to the UK. Consideration should also be given as to whether the applicant will be able to set up and run their business in the UK given the current situation with the coronavirus. Where either is not possible, the endorsing body should consider delaying the endorsement process
• applicants with an endorsement who have not yet entered the UK within the three-month timeframe will require a new endorsement
• applicants outside the UK who are unable to travel are advised to refer to the updated Home Office coronavirus guidance of 24 March 2020. In it, applicants are advised to contact their relevant commercial provider (TLS or VFS). They also have the option to contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre
• individuals checking in with their endorsing bodies can continue to do so and should be encouraged to do so via telephone or video conferencing. When assessing an applicant’s progress against their business plan, the endorsing body should make allowances for the current situation in the UK and discuss future contingencies. Non-compliance by an applicant with these check-ins must continue to be reported to the Home Office
• endorsing bodies should consider and issue endorsements to those looking to extend their leave as normal. As above, consideration should be given to the current climate in the UK and possible future contingencies should be discussed
Source:LexisNexis & Start-up and Innovator visa endorsing bodies: guidance