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UK Innovator Visa: Apply From the U.S.

The UK’s Innovator Visa is designed for individuals who can make a substantial investment (£50,000 or $70,753) in a business based in the UK that is innovative, viable, and scalable.

Call +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about how we can support you with your Innovator Visa application.

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    What is the UK Innovator Visa? 

    The Innovator Visa was designed for experienced business people who have plans to establish or invest in a UK business.

    One of the primary requirements of the Innovator Visa is that the business idea is ‘innovative, viable, and scalable.’ As well as this, the applicant must demonstrate that the business plan has been endorsed by an eligible body.

    It is possible for two applicants to submit a joint application on the same business, but each individual must bring at least £50,000 ($70,753) to meet £100,000 ($141,507) in total.

    If granted, the Innovator Visa lasts for up to three years. It may be possible to extend the visa after this time if the applicant meets the eligibility requirements.

    The advantage of the visa is that it is an accelerated route towards indefinite leave to remain (similar to the US green card). Individuals who hold indefinite leave to remain for one year may be eligible to apply for British citizenship.

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    Who can apply for an Innovator Visa?

    US citizens who wish to apply for an Innovator Visa must ensure they meet the eligibility requirements.

    The eligibility requirements for an Innovator Visa include:

    • The applicant should be at least 18 years old
    • The applicant must show that they have access to at least £50,000 ($70,753) in investment funds
    • The business idea must be endorsed by an eligible body
    • Individuals must demonstrate they have adequate financial resources (at least £945 ($1,337) held in savings for at least 90 days prior to the application) to maintain themselves without recourse to public funds
    • Applicants must show their English language abilities are at least at level B2 on the CEFR scale (not relevant for US citizens)
    • None of the general grounds for refusal apply
    • Individuals are required to devote their full attention to the business and are not permitted to work elsewhere

    UK Innovator Visa endorsement requirement for US citizens

    The requirements for US citizens include an endorsement from an eligible body and investment in the business idea.

    The full list of the approved endorsing bodies can be seen on the Gov.uk website. The endorsement requirements will vary depending on whether the business is a new one or falls under the ‘same business’ criteria.

    For new businesses, the endorsement criteria include the following requirements:

    • A business plan that meets “new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage”
    • The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness
    • The business is demonstrably scalable and has the potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets

    For ‘same’ businesses, the requirements include:

    • The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months
    • The applicant is further judged against the business plan assessed in the previous endorsement and must show significant gains in this plan
    • The endorsement must include confirmation that the business is active and trading and the applicant holds a key role in the day-to-day management of the business

    It is a condition of the rules that the endorsing body should engage with the individual at 6, 12, and 24 months to ensure that progress is being made on the business plan.

    When submitting the business plan to the endorsing body, you should be prepared to show the following:

    • Innovative: The business plan must meet new or existing market needs or create a competitive advantage
    • Viable: Demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge, experience, and market understanding to successfully develop the business
    • Scalable: Provide evidence of careful planning and growth development opportunities into national markets. Show the possibility for job creation

    What documents do you need?

    When preparing your Innovator Visa application, you will be required to submit evidence of your eligibility with relevant documents

    You should be prepared to submit some of the following documents:

    • Valid passport or travel document
    • Bank statements or official letter from your financial institution showing that you have held at least £945 ($1,337) in savings for 90 days prior to the application (as well as £630 ($891) available for each dependent on your application)
      • The evidence of funds must be on the official letter-headed paper of the financial institution and hold their official stamp on each page of the document
    • Evidence that you have legal access to £50,000 ($70,753) investment funds
      • The funds must not include any overdraft facilities
      • The funds must not rely on other financial methods (e.g., shares, bonds, or pension funds)
      • If it is the case that the funds are available to the business rather than you directly, your endorsement letter must outline your connection to the business
    • A clear tuberculosis certificate (where relevant)
    • Certified translations of any official documents in a language other than English
    • It is recommended to submit a letter of support with your application to outline the nature of your application and demonstrate how you meet the requirements
    • If switching to this category, provide evidence of your last grant of leave

    When submitting your Innovator Visa application from the U.S., you should take care to ensure all documents are accurate. If there are even minor errors, your application may be rejected.

    Waiting time and application fee for the Innovator Visa

    Waiting time 

    The guideline waiting time for the Innovator Visa is approximately eight weeks (when applying from outside the UK) or three weeks (if applying from within the UK). 

    If you are applying from the United States, you should be aware that the waiting times may vary significantly. 

    If your supporting documents need to be verified, you are required to attend an interview, or there are other circumstances that complicate your application, then you may be waiting longer for a decision on your application. 

    Application fee (2021) 

    The application fee depends on where you are applying from, and whether you have dependents on your application.  

    If applying from outside the UK, you can expect to pay £1,021 ($1,444) for the Innovator Visa application. If you are extending or switching to this visa category from within the UK, you can expect to pay £1,277 ($1,807) 

    If you are including dependents on your application, there is an additional fee of £1,021 ($1,444) per person. Extending or switching the Innovator Visa will cost £1,277 ($1,807) per dependent person based in the UK. 

    It is a requirement of this visa to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge (£624 ($883) per person annually).  

    There may also be a requirement to submit biometric information at a visa application center at a cost of £19.20 ($27.17).

    For more information or assistance with acquiring the UK Innovator visa, call us on +1 844 290 6312 today.

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      Can you extend or switch to the Innovator Visa?

      Extending the visa

      If you fulfill the eligibility criteria, you may be able to extend the Innovator Visa for a further three years. There is no limit to the number of times you can extend the visa.

      If your application for an Innovator Visa is accepted, you will receive leave to enter for an initial three years. A condition of your stay stipulates that you must achieve certain objectives on your business plan to be granted an extension.

      The qualifying criteria include:

      • Meeting all eligibility requirements
      • Demonstrating that you are still engaged in running an innovative business in the UK or that you wish to set up a new business and that you have the necessary endorsements from an approved body
      • You can demonstrate that you have £50,000 ($70,753) in funds to invest (not necessary if your business is already established)

      After three years of continuous residence on the Innovator Visa, you may be eligible for indefinite leave to remain (settled status).

      Switching to the visa

      If you are a U.S. citizen already resident in the UK on some other valid form of leave, you may be able to switch to the Innovator Visa.

      First, you must check whether you are eligible to switch to this visa. If you meet the requirements, you can submit an application to switch your visa category.

      You cannot switch to the Innovator Visa if you hold one of the following:

      • Visitor Visa
      • Short-term Student Visa
      • Parent of a Child Student Visa
      • Seasonal Worker Visa
      • Domestic Worker in a Private Household Visa
      • You are on immigration bail
      • You have permission to stay outside the immigration rules

      As part of the switching process, you will be required to submit relevant documents and show that you fulfill the eligibility criteria.

      Conditions of stay with the Innovator Visa

      Yes, the UK Innovator Visa is a route toward settlement. You may be eligible to apply for settlement after three years of holding the visa.

      You may apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after three years if you meet the eligibility requirements (ILR). In the United States, the equivalent form of this leave is known as the green card.

      Some of the requirements for applying for ILR as an Innovator include:

      • You have been endorsed by an approved endorsing body in the UK, confirming that you have produced significant achievements based on your business plan
      • The business is active and trading, and you hold an active, day-to-day role in the management of the business
      • You have invested at least £50,000 into the business and have used this money to grow the business

      You should then meet at least two of the following requirements:

      • The business has created at least five full-time jobs for resident workers (with salaries of at least £25,000 ($35,376) per year)
      • The business has created at least ten full-time jobs for resident workers
      • The number of customers has at least doubled within the last three years and is competitive
      • The business has undertaken significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK
      • The business has made a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million ($1.4 million) in the last 12 months
      • The business has made a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 ($707,537) in the last 12 months

      If you hold ILR for 12 months, you may be eligible to then apply for British citizenship. As a U.S. citizen, you can hold dual British and American nationality and there is no requirement to renounce your U.S. citizenship.

      Can I settle in the UK on an Innovator Visa?

      Yes, the UK Innovator Visa is a route towards settlement. You may be eligible to apply for settlement after three years of holding the visa.

      You may apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after three years if you meet the eligibility requirements (ILR). In the United States, the equivalent form of this leave is known as the green card.

      Some of the requirements for applying for ILR as an Innovator include:

      • You have been endorsed by an approved endorsing body in the UK confirming that you have produced significant achievements based on your business plan
      • The business is active and trading and you hold an active, day-to-day role in the management of the business
      • You have invested at least £50,000 into the business and have used this money to grow the business

      You should then meet at least two of the following requirements:

      • The business has created at least five full-time jobs for resident workers (with salaries of at least £25,000 ($35,376) per year)
      • The business has created at least ten full-time jobs for resident workers
      • The number of customers has at least doubled within the last three years and is competitive
      • The business has undertaken significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK
      • The business has made a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million ($1.4 million) in the last 12 months
      • The business has made a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 ($707,537) in the last 12 months

      If you hold ILR for 12 months, you may be eligible to then apply for British citizenship. As a U.S. citizen, you can hold dual British and American nationality and there is no requirement to renounce your U.S. citizenship.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  The UK Innovator Visa is a visa category for non-British national businesspeople who can invest at least £50,000 ($70,753) into their business idea and grow the business in the UK. The business idea should have the potential to create economic growth and jobs. The idea must be innovative, viable, and scalable. The visa provides an accelerated route to settlement and British citizenship.

                  You are permitted to work only within your own business as a director, company employee, or self-employed member of a business partnership.

                  You are not permitted to work for another business or organization while holding the Innovator Visa.

                  To apply for the Innovator Visa, you should prepare the required documents and submit an application to the UK Home Office (the equivalent body to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)).

                  Although the application process may seem straightforward, all UK visas can be extremely complex and even small mistakes can result in an application being refused. To maximize your chances of a successful application, speak to IAS about your Innovator Visa application.

                  We have a proven track record in assisting our clients to receive successful applications and we are available to speak to you today about your circumstances.

                  Call +1 844 290 6312 for a confidential discussion about your visa application and we can advise you on the best approach based on your needs.