The UK Innovator Visa is suitable for individuals who are experienced entrepreneurs and wish to establish a business in the United Kingdom. Generally, you need to have at least £50,000 to invest in your business or you have already invested £50,000 in your business, but there are certain exceptions to this as well.
Your business idea must be innovative, viable and scalable. It should be approved and supported by an authorised endorsing body. The UK Innovator Visa has replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category. The UK Innovator Visas are valid for 3 years and you can also apply directly for an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom after 3 years.
Individuals applying for the Innovator Visa can also bring their partner or children under the age of 18 to the United Kingdom.
You can become eligible for a UK Innovator Visa if you:
Unless the endorsing body is providing the investment funds, applicants who are applying under the ‘new business’ criteria must have access to at least £50,000 for investment in the business.
If the applicant was granted leave in Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category and they want to make an application to extend their leave to remain in the UK to pursue the same business that was assessed as part of that previous application, they can choose to make an application under the ‘new business’ or the ‘same business’ criteria.
If two individuals are applying for Innovator Visas to start the same business, they cannot share the investment funds. If you already have an established business setup in the United Kingdom, the investment fund requirement does not apply to you.
The UK Innovator Visa is suitable for more experienced business people who have £50,000 to invest in an innovative business. The business idea must be viable and scalable as well. Individuals who wish to apply for this visa are expected to present a new business idea and generally, it is for a business that does not already exist.
However, if it does, the business should not be fully working or start trading. The applicant can work on their own as the founder or as a part of a business team as this visa also accepts joint venture projects. The business idea could be related to any sector as long as the idea is innovative, viable and scalable. Applicants can develop other businesses along with their main business idea.
The UK Startup Visa is suitable for those individuals who have no business experience and want to set up and develop a new business in the UK.
The UK Innovator Visa is suitable for more experienced business people who want to set up a business in the UK and they have a minimum of £50,000 as investment funds for the business.
There are other differences between the two visas such as how long each visa is valid for and whether they can be extended for longer periods or lead to permanent residency in the UK. You can get in touch with our Legal Advisors if you need help deciding which visa you should apply for.
Applicants will have to meet the following requirements to qualify for an Innovator Visa:
Before starting your visa application, you must have an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body. Endorsement bodies assess your business plans and determine whether they meet the three main business requirements that are mentioned above.
If your business idea is approved by the endorsement body, an endorsement letter will be written and sent to the UK Home Office. The letter will contain all the details regarding the applicant and their business proposal.
The endorsing body will also have to mention if they are providing the investment funds or the applicant has the funds available with them.
The documents required for a UK Innovator Visa depends on your circumstances. However, the most important document while applying for a UK Innovator Visa is an endorsement letter that shows an endorsing body has assessed your business or business idea. You will also need to show:
It is important to provide all the necessary documents while applying and to follow all the Home Office standards to have your application approved.
The UK Innovator Visa has its benefits such as:
The application for a UK Innovator Visa has to be made online. Apart from this, you will also have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a UK Visa Application Centre in the country you apply from. You will have to do this to get your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which is required as part of your UK Innovator Visa application.
The earliest you can apply for this visa is 3 months before you travel to the United Kingdom. You must provide an appropriate business plan and the necessary supporting documents to support your visa application for endorsement.
There are certain things that you are permitted to do on a UK Innovator Visa such as:
However, there are things you cannot do on an Innovator Visa such as:
If your application is successful and is approved, you will get a list of things you can and cannot do with an Innovator Visa.
Usually, applications for an Innovator Visa are made from outside the UK, but you can also switch into this visa category from within the UK. You will have to receive an endorsement from an approved endorsing body if you want to switch to the Innovator Visa. If you meet the eligibility requirements and if you are already in the UK, you can switch to an Innovator Visa from one of the following visas:
You will be able to stay in the UK until you receive a decision as long as you applied to switch to the Innovator Visa before your current visa expires.
If you are applying for the Innovator Visa from outside the United Kingdom, you will receive a decision from the Home Office within 3 weeks. If you have applied for a visa from within the UK, the decision will take up to 8 weeks.
The dependent applications will take 8 weeks to process. Your decision could take longer if the Home Office has any concerns regarding your visa application.
The cost of applying for an Innovator Visa depends on your circumstances and where you are applying from. The current application fee for an Innovator Visa is £1,021 if you are applying from outside the UK and £1,277 if you are applying to switch into this category from within the UK. You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your visa application.
You will have to pay the visa fee for every person that is applying at the same time as you or applying later to join you in the UK.
If your application for a UK Innovator Visa is approved, you will be able to stay in the UK for 3 years. If you meet the eligibility requirements and are still successfully running a business in the UK, you can apply for an extension of your visa. You can extend your stay for an additional 2 years and after staying for a total of 5 years, you can apply for permanent residency in the UK or ILR if you meet all the eligibility conditions.