- Overview of the UK Innovator Visa
- The requirements for an Innovator Visa
- Investment requirements for the Innovator visa
- Endorsement requirements for a UK Innovator Visa
- Applying for the Innovator visa from outside the UK
- How to renew the Innovator Visa
- What can’t you do with the UK Innovator Visa?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Overview of the UK Innovator Visa
The Innovator visa is for businesspersons with experience, looking to start an innovative business in the UK.
Innovator visa applicants are expected to present a new business idea that, typically, would not be an already existing/operational business so they must have great market awareness.
Where it does, the new business should not have gone into full-blown trading mode yet, since the application would still be in the works.
Applicants can submit applications as sole founders of the business or as part of an innovator team. Joint venture arrangements are accommodated too.
The business idea presented can be related to any industry, provided it shows sufficient innovation, scalability, and viability. At the same time, the applicants are allowed to develop other businesses as well as the main idea presented for the visa.
Should the applicant wish to join an already trading business, they would be better off applying for a Skilled Worker visa. If an applicant wants to invest in an already existing business venture, a good option would be to apply via the Tier 1 Investor visa route. Senior employees of an overseas business looking to establish a presence in the UK would benefit from a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
The process can easily get complicated, given all you have to prove and provide to get accepted.
The requirements for an Innovator Visa
To apply for an Innovator visa, you will be required to fulfil these requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have at least £50,000 available to invest in the idea, or that you have already invested.
- Get an endorsement from an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed the idea and found it to meet the requirements (viable, scalable, and innovative).
- The body must be convinced that you will spend the time you get in the UK developing the venture to add value.
- If the application allows you to continue the same business venture as your initial application, the endorsing body must be satisfied that you have shown significant achievements, weighed against the initial business plan from the first endorsement.
- Be registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, show you hold an active role in the daily management and development of the business, demonstrate the business’ ability to be active, trading, and sustainable for at least the following 12 months and show you will spend your time in the UK working on the venture.
- Your endorsement letter has to be issued within three months before the date of your Innovator visa application.
- You genuinely plan to and can implement any work or business activities related to the application.
- Your command of the English language is competent (at least CEFR Level B2, equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, speaking, writing, and listening).
For those outside the UK or those who have been in the UK for less than 12 months, the application will require them to have at least £1,270 to support themselves, an additional £285 for a dependent partner, £315 for a first child and £200 for every child after the first one.
The exact requirements each applicant is required to fulfil change from one person to the other in small but significant ways, which is why we encourage checking to see what specific requirements apply to you from the official channels or an expert legal advisor.
Investment requirements for the Innovator visa
In terms of funds, applicants need to have at least £50,000 available to invest in the UK business or have already invested the amount in their UK business. The applicant can use their own money or get funding provided by the endorsing body.
Since there is a viability and scalability requirement attached, the applicant may need to have more than £50,000 to invest. Some endorsing bodies may require more funding as a condition to give their endorsement.
Endorsement requirements for a UK Innovator Visa
The hurdles continue since the applicant has to get an endorsement. For that, they have to meet the following criteria:
- Scalability– the plan must show evidence of a clear structure and potential to create jobs, in addition to the potential for national and international markets growth.
- Viability- the applicant needs to show that they have the skills, experience, knowledge, and market know-how to successfully raise and sustain the venture.
- Innovation- the idea needs to be genuine, original, and able to meet new or existing market demands and/or get a leg up over the competition.
The endorsing body will also need assurance that the applicant will spend their time in the UK developing business ventures.
Those who wish to continue the same business venture when applying for an extension will need an endorsement too, showing that they have been doing what the visa mandates.
Those applying from outside the UK have to do it online. To avoid running into any issues, here are the documents the applicant is required to have for that process:
- A valid passport or official document confirming the identity and nationality of the applicant.
- Bank statements prove the applicant has at least £1,270 in savings in their bank account. It is also required that the money be banked for 28 consecutive days before applying for a visa.
- Documents proving the applicant speaks and understands English up to the required standard.
- Evidence that you have the investment funds (crucial when starting the business or applying for the first time).
- Tuberculosis test results. Check to see if you come from a country whose citizens are required to be tested before they can go to the UK.
If any of the documents the process asks for are not written in Welsh or English, the applicant has to deliver certified translations of each.
How to renew the Innovator Visa
The applicant can get an extension when the three years and four months elapse. To avoid any issues, it is recommended to apply before time runs out, to avoid having to be waiting for an answer after the time runs out, which would require you to apply from outside the UK.
In addition to that, the applicant has to live by UK rules. There are performance obligations that have to be met to get the endorsement needed to qualify an applicant for an extension.
What can’t you do with the UK Innovator Visa?
The UK Innovator Visa allows the holders to do some things but bars them from others.
The name of the visa narrows down the definition of the holder. The innovator visa holders are allowed into the UK to specifically develop a pre-examined business venture/idea.
A UK Innovator Visa holder is not allowed to claim social benefits or public funds. In addition, the word Innovator here excludes being a sports coach or sportsperson.
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After applying, submitting the required documents, and completing every requirement, the application timeline is:
- 8 weeks if you are inside the UK
- 3 weeks if you are outside the UK
Yes, successful applicants can use their visas to invest in other things. They are also acquired to own property legally.
Yes, but there are consequences for that. Since they would no longer be maintaining the idea that got them the visa, the Innovator visa holders lose their right to live in the UK under that specific visa.
However, the innovator is allowed to run the business for three years and then apply for permanent residence, sell what they need to, and stay under a different visa that is not tied to the innovation.
|Applications from outside the UK
|Extending or switching to the Innovator Visa (in the UK)
|Partner and children fees
Regardless of the visa you select, the best step is to get in touch with the immigration lawyers and team at Total Law, so you know that you are guaranteed the right path and stand for a much higher success rate for your immigration application. You can contact us seven days a week, either on the phone or by using the online chat function to speak with one of our client care agents.