- Innovator Visa eligibility
- What is the difference between an Innovator Visa and a Start-Up Visa?
- What are the requirements for an Innovator Visa?
- Can I switch to the Innovator Visa from another UK visa?
- Can my family join me in the UK under an Innovator Visa?
- Which documents do I need to include in my Innovator Visa application?
- What is the Innovator Visa application process?
- How much does the Innovator Visa cost?
- How long can I stay in the UK under an Innovator Visa?
Innovator Visa Application
The UK Innovator Visa was created in April of 2019, replacing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. The Innovator Visa route is designed for experienced businesspeople who seek to start a business in the UK. Applicants need a minimum of £50,000 to invest in the business, and their business proposal must be endorsed by an endorsing body.
The Innovator Visa lasts for three years and can be extended for a further three years. In some cases, Innovator Visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status after just three years of lawful residency in the UK.
UK Innovator Visa Eligibility
Anyone who wishes to start a business in the UK under an Innovator Visa will need to meet certain requirements.
To be eligible for the Innovator Visa, you must:
- Be from outside the EEA and Switzerland
- Be at least 18-years-old
- Have at least £50,000 to invest if you want set up a new business
- Have a business idea which has been endorsed by an approved body. (The endorsement must not have been withdrawn prior to the Home Office’s consideration of the application)
- Meet the English language requirement
- Meet certain personal financial requirements
Multiple applicants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company, but each applicant still needs to be able to demonstrate that they have £50,000 to invest.
What is the Difference Between an Innovator Visa and a Start Up Visa?
The Start Up Visa is another type of visa for entrepreneurs. However, this visa is for less experienced entrepreneurs who are classed as high potential.
|Start Up Visa||Innovator Visa|
|Applicants do not need funds to invest in their business||Applicants need at least £50,000 to invest in their business|
|Must not have previously set up a business in the UK||Eligible if set up business in the UK in the past|
|Successful applicants can stay in the UK for two years||Successful applicants can stay in the UK for three years|
|Can bring family members||Can bring family members|
|Can take on work outside of their business to support themselves||Cannot undertake any work outside of business ventures|
|Visa cannot be extended||Visa can be extended|
What are the Innovator Visa Requirements?
As alluded to above, there are a number of requirements which an Innovator Visa applicant will need to fulfil in order for their application to be accepted.
Your business proposal will need to meet the following requirements:
- Innovation. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have a genuine and original business plan which meets a new or existing market need, and will provide benefit to the British economy and workforce. (An applicant cannot join or invest in a business which is already trading)
- Viability. The applicant needs to prove they have the necessary skills, knowledge and market awareness to successfully run the business
- Scalability. The applicant will need to show that there is potential for job creation and growth
Innovator Visa Endorsing Bodies
One of the key Innovator Visa requirements is to have your business idea approved by an endorsing body. Before you start your Innovator Visa application, you must have an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body.
Endorsement bodies review the applicant’s business proposal and determine whether it meets the three key business proposal requirements, as mentioned above.
If the endorsement body approves the business proposal, an endorsement letter will be written and sent to the Home Office, with detailed information about the applicant and their business proposal.
Endorsing bodies must be able to demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs (unless a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own proven track record).
The endorsing body must explain in the letter whether they are providing the investment funds, or whether the applicant has the investment funds available to them and is ready to invest in the business (or has already done so).
What are the Financial Requirements?
As well as the requirements for investment funds, applicants must also have at least £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days before they apply for the Innovator Visa.
You cannot prove this requirement through your investment funds, or through money earned through illegal employment in the UK.
What is the English Language Requirement?
Any Innovator Visa applicant will need to prove they meet a B2 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). Bear in mind that citizens of most native English-speaking countries will be exempt from this requirement.
You will not need to fulfil any English language requirements if you:
- Hold a degree or higher qualification taught in English which is recognised by the UK NARIC
- Already hold a CEFR B2 level certificate in reading, writing, speaking and listening
Also, citizens of the following countries will not need to fulfil this requirement:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
All other Innovator Visa applicants will need to pass a B2 English language test in reading, writing, speaking and listening from an approved test provider to be eligible for the Innovator Visa.
Can I Switch to the Innovator Visa from Another UK Visa?
Yes, it is possible to switch to the Innovator Visa from another UK visa.
You will need to receive endorsement from an approved body to be eligible to switch to the Innovator Visa, just as you would with a standard Innovator Visa application.
If you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK, you could switch from one of the following visas:
- Start-up visa
- Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
- Any Tier 2 visa
- Visitor Visa, (if applicant came to the UK to get funding with a supporting letter from an endorsement body)
As long as you applied for the Innovator Visa before your current visa expired, you will be able to stay in the UK until a decision has been reached.
Can my Family Join Me in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?
Certain family members can join you when you travel to the UK on an Innovator Visa. Your family members will be classed as dependants of you.
The following people will be classed as dependants:
- A partner
- A child under 18
- A child over 18 if currently in UK as a dependant
If you have dependants, you must have £630 in savings per dependant, in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself.
You need to prove you have the required money in your bank account (or the dependant’s bank account) for at least 90 days before you apply for the Innovator Visa.
Which Documents do I need to Include in an Innovator Visa Application?
The specific documents which need to be included in the Innovator Visa application depends on your particular circumstances.
Still, the following documents will always need to be included in your portfolio of evidence:
- Current passport or other valid travel identification
- Proof of B2 English language test pass (if applicable)
- Bank statements showing that you have at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
- Evidence of your investment funds
- Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where the test has to be taken
Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator.
It is imperative that you provide all necessary documents in your application, and that they adhere to the strict Home Office standards. Failure to do so will result in an automatic rejection.
At the Immigration Advice Service, one of our highly experienced immigration lawyers can help you compile all your relevant documents and ensure that your portfolio of evidence meets the required standards. Call us now on 0333 305 9375 for more information.
Innovator Visa UK Application Process
Once you have gathered all relevant documents together and have an endorsement from an approved body, you can complete the Innovator Visa application form.
The earliest you can apply for the Innovator Visa is 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK.
How Long Does it Take to Process an Innovator Visa?
If you are applying for the Innovator Visa from outside of the UK, you can expect to receive a decision from the Home Office within three weeks. Applications made from inside the UK can take up to eight weeks. Also, dependant applications will be processed within eight weeks.
The application could take longer to process if the Home Office has any concerns about your application. For instance, you could be asked to have certain supporting documents verified.
Do I Need to Provide Biometric Information?
Yes, with an Innovator Visa application, you will need to provide your fingerprints and a photo.
After you have made your application, you will be prompted to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services point to provide the photo and your fingerprints.
How Much is the Innovator Visa Application?
The cost of a UK Innovator Visa depends on where you apply from and your specific situation.
|Who?||Standard Application||Extend or Switch|
|You (from Turkey or Macedonia)||£966||£1,222|
|Dependents||£1,021 per person||£1,277 per person|
How Long Can I Stay in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?
If your application is approved, you can stay in the UK for three years.
At the end of the three years you will be able to extend your visa if you still meet the eligibility requirements and are still running a business in the UK, or want to start a new one.
If your business has already been endorsed in your original Innovator Visa application, you do not need to have £50,000 in investment funds to renew your Innovator Visa.
Also, you will need to include any dependants who are on your current Innovator visa in the Innovator Visa extension application.
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You can apply for an Innovator Visa if you are looking to expand or start a business in the UK. To meet the Innovator Visa requirements, you will need to have a business idea which is innovative, scalable and viable. You will also need £50,000 in savings, to prove that you will be able to launch the business once in the UK.
The business you propose must have a prospective benefit to the British economy and/or workforce.
You can make an application for an Innovator Visa online or by post, through the Gov site or privately though your endorsing body (for example, Tech Nation).
The Innovator Visa application fees are as follows:
£1,021 for the application
£624 immigration surcharge
Applications for the Innovator Visa will be opened on the 29th March. The original Entrepreneur Visa will remain open for extension until April 2023.
Yes, you can switch from a Graduate Entrepreneur to an Innovator Visa, in the same way that you would to an Entrepreneur Visa.
The process for switching from a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa to an Innovator Visa is straightforward, but you will need to meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, you will need to still be involved in the running of a ‘successful’ business which is still thriving and benefitting the British economy.
Yes, you can switch from a Start-Up Visa to an Innovator Visa as long as your business is still thriving and contributing to the British economy. You will need to prove to the Home Office, if this is the case, that your business is still viable and that it is supporting you (in other words, you are not claiming public funds while in the UK).
Our lawyers are highly qualified and experienced in all forms of corporate visa applications. This means that they will support you every step of the way in your application for a UK Innovation Visa and ensure your application meets the standards which are demanded by the Home Office.
Our services include:
- ensuring your documents are satisfactory before making your application;
- creating a detailed bundle to present your application to the Home Office;
- providing you with a Letter of Representation to support your application;
- communicating with the Home Office until the end of the process; and
- making sure that your application form is completed to the highest standard.
Our lawyers can also work with you if you need helping writing a business plan.
Contact us today using our online contact form or call us on 0333 363 8577 to speak with one of our specialist immigration lawyers, and take your first steps towards completing your Innovator Visa application.
The Innovator Visa can act as your first step towards British citizenship. Any time spent in the UK under an Innovator Visa counts towards minimum residency requirements for citizenship.
In some cases, Innovator Visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status when their Innovator Visa expires. ILR status means you can live in the UK without any restrictions.
However, in most situations, you need to spend at least five years as a lawful resident in the UK before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
After a year of living in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be able to apply for UK citizenship, and enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.
If your application is refused, you will be notified of the reasons for the rejection. If you feel your application was rejected without good reason, you can submit an appeal against the Home Office’s decision.