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Innovator Visa UK (for Spaniards)

Spanish citizens must obtain an Innovator Founder visa to set up and run an innovative business in the UK. This was formerly known as the Innovator visa.

If you are a Spanish citizen looking for more information on the UK Innovator Founder visa, including visa requirements or how to apply, call us today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online, to receive bespoke advice from our immigration specialists.

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    What is an Innovator Visa UK?

    The UK’s thriving economy, world-class public infrastructure, and stable economic and political situation attract many overseas business owners and foreign entrepreneurs to the country, both short-term and long-term.

    While a Standard Visitor visa may allow foreign nationals to carry out certain specified business activities for less than six months, they will need a long-term business visa to set up and run their businesses in the UK for longer than six months.

    With the other long-term business visa options (including the Entrepreneur visa, the Investor visa, and the Start-up visa UK) now closed for new applicants, the Innovator Founder visa is the only current pathway for foreign nationals to establish and run a company in the UK.

    After Brexit, Spanish citizens must obtain an Innovator Founder visa to conduct business activities in the UK for over six months. However, if they are still eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, they can run a business in the UK for any duration without a visa.

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    Benefits of an Innovator Founder Visa UK

    An Innovator Founder visa in the UK allows you to:

    • Establish and run your business as part of a stable and developed economy, with no restriction on the number of businesses
    • Access the broader EEA marketplace
    • Enter and exit the UK freely
    • Live in the UK along with your eligible family members (i.e. spouse/civil or unmarried partner and dependent children)
    • Study
    • Work for your own business, or take up outside work (as long as it falls under the skilled work category and not as a professional sportsperson)
    • Eventually, settle permanently in the UK

    However, you or your dependants cannot access public funds in the UK or apply for a State pension.

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Validity/Renewal

    A UK Innovative Founder visa is valid for three years. It is then renewable for as many times as you want to, provided you continue meeting the initial visa requirements. You are still running your business in the UK (or establishing a new one).

    During the three-year visa validity period, you will have to meet with your respective endorsing body after 12 months and 24 months to demonstrate the progress of your business. If the endorsing body withdraws its endorsement, the Home Office may cut short your visa validity.

    In that case, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your visa expires to continue living and running your business in the UK.

    You may also apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after living in the country for three consecutive years on an Innovation Founder visa.

    UK Innovator Visa Requirements

    To be eligible for this visa, a Spanish citizen must:

    • Have a business offering that meets the endorsement criteria
    • Have their business idea endorsed by designated UK innovator visa endorsing bodies
    • Meet other eligibility criteria, including:
      • Aged at least 18
      • Can read, write, speak, and understand English at CEFR B2 level at least
      • Have sufficient funds to support themselves and their dependent family (if any) in the UK

    There may be other requirements you need to meet depending on your circumstances. Reach out to an immigration expert for more information.

    Endorsement Criteria for a UK Innovator Founder Visa

    Before contacting an endorsement body, you will need to ascertain that your business plan meets the following criteria:

    • You have an original business offering that is different from anything already existing in the market (which also indicates that you will not be allowed to join a business that is already trading in the UK on this visa)
    • Your business plan is viable, sustainable, and has potential for growth
    • Your business will be able to create jobs in the UK
    • You can expand your business nationally and internationally

    The following entities are currently eligible to issue business endorsements for an Innovator Founder Visa application:

    • Innovator International
    • Envestors Limited
    • UK Endorsing Services
    • The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP)

    Among these, the GEP is run by the Department for Business and Trade, and is focused on internationally mobile, tech-based entrepreneurs. You must be invited by the GEP to participate in their programme and receive their endorsement for your Innovator Founder visa purpose.

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      How to Apply for an Innovator Founder Visa UK From Spain

      After receiving the endorsement letter, your Innovator Founder visa application process from Spain will start with filling in an online application form. You must create an account on the Home Office website with a valid email ID.

      It is recommended that you have your supporting documents and other relevant information ready so that you can answer the questions on the application form completely and accurately.

      Once complete, you must submit your application form online along with scanned copies of your supporting documents and pay the visa fees. Next, you must book an appointment with a UK visa application centre in Spain to submit your biometric information, your original passport, and physical copies of supporting documents.

      TLScontact is Spain’s designated third-party UK visa services provider, with application centres in Barcelona and Madrid. You may choose the one nearest to your location. Please note that apart from submitting your biometrics and documents, you may also be required to attend a visa interview on your appointment date.

      How to Switch to an Innovator Founder Visa in the UK

      Spanish citizens already in the UK on other visas may be able to switch to an Innovator Founder visa, provided they meet the aforementioned eligibility requirements. They will, however, not be able to switch to an Innovator Founder visa if they currently have a:

      • Standard Visitor visa
      • Short-term study visa
      • Parent of a Child Student visa
      • Seasonal Worker visa
      • Overseas Domestic Worker visa

      You cannot switch to an Innovator visa if you are currently in the UK on immigration bail or with permission to stay outside the immigration rules (such as on compassionate grounds).

      Moreover, a Student visa holder must either have completed their study course or studied for a PhD for at least 24 months in the UK to apply to switch to an Innovator Founder visa.

      If you have had dependent family members on your previous visa, their visa type will not automatically change when you switch your visa type. Instead, they will need to make a new application with you or before the expiration date of their current visa.

      Documents Required for an Innovator Visa UK

      To apply for an Innovator Founder visa, you will require the following supporting documents:

      • An endorsement letter from a designated endorsing body in the UK that has assessed your business plan
      • Your current Spanish passport (or any other valid travel document), with at least one blank page for your visa in case you do not possess a biometric passport with a chip in it
      • Your bank statement(s) showing that you have had at least £1,270 in savings for 28 consecutive days before your visa application
      • Proof of English language knowledge
      • Criminal record certificate
      • Relationship proof for your dependent family members (if any), e.g. marriage/partnership certificate, birth certificate, etc.

      Please note that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) may ask you for additional documents depending on your circumstances. Additionally, you must provide certified translation copies in case your supporting documents are not in English or Welsh.

      Innovator Founder Visa Processing Time and Fees

      As per UKVI’s current estimate, the Innovator Founder visa processing time is three weeks when applied outside the UK, including Spain. To switch to this visa category inside the UK, the processing time can be up to eight weeks.

      An Innovator Founder visa costs £1,191 when applied outside the UK and £1,486 while extending or switching your visa in the UK. You must also pay a healthcare surcharge of £3,105 per person and visa fees.

      In addition, you will need to pay £1,000 directly to the endorsing body to apply for your endorsement letter. If your visa application is successful, you will need to pay £500 per mandatory meeting with your respective endorsement body at 12 months and 24 months from the date of your visa approval.

      How Can Total Law Help?

      To obtain an Innovator Founder visa in the UK, you must satisfy the endorsing body of the innovativeness, sustainability, and growth potential of your business offering, as well as the Home Office of the genuineness of your visa application. Innovator Founder visa applications are subject to stringent checks by UKVI to rule out any potential immigration abuse.

      Therefore, it is highly recommended to contact professional immigration advisers to increase your chances of success in receiving a positive decision with your innovator visa UK application.

      Our Total Law team of competent and knowledgeable immigration lawyers has the required expertise and empathy to understand your case and assist you, regardless of how complex your circumstances might be. Call us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online, today to know more about the bespoke immigration services we provide and how we can help you.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                Yes, provided he depends on you (financially or otherwise), will live with you in the UK (unless studying full-time at a boarding school or university), and is not married or in any civil partnership.

                During the 2019-2022 period, the success rate for the Innovator Founder visa applications was above 80%. However, whether your case is successful will depend on the strength of your business offering (for receiving endorsement) and the accuracy and completeness of your visa application. We highly recommend consulting an immigration specialist to increase the chances of your success.