The Innovator visa category is for business people who have £50,000 to invest in their business from any legitimate source. All applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain must have been endorsed in this category by an endorsing body. The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and maybe a member of an entrepreneurial team.
Innovator Business Plan
In order to be granted a visa under the Innovator route (‘new business’), the applicant’s business must meet the following requirements:
|The applicant has a genuine, original 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 to successfully run the business.|
|There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.|
Innovator Application Process
To assess your business plan you will need to provide certain levels of detail.
|Submit your Business Plan||Your CV||Feedback and Proposal||Claim Your Visa Endorsement|
|Endorsing body assesses each plan against strict criteria. Those who score highly will be presented with a proposal to join the programme.||Your CV gives the Endorsing Body an insight into your background, both academically and professionally. It should contain your personal details, a personal profile, employment experience and educational qualifications.
|The Proposal will contain feedback detailing the support endorsing body believe you require and commercial terms.||Endorsing body can issue your Visa Endorsement as soon as you are formally engaged in the programme.|
Endorsement (‘new business’ and ‘same business’)
Applicants must obtain an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body to submit with their application.
For a ‘new business’, the endorsing body will review the applicant’s business proposal and decide if it meets the above tests of innovation, viability and scalability. If so, it will provide specified information to the Home Office in the endorsement letter about the applicant and their business. The letter must be dated within three months of the date of the immigration application.
If the endorsing body is:
- providing the investment funds, or
- is verifying that the applicant has the investment funds available to them or has already invested the funds in their business
the endorsement letter must confirm this. Otherwise, the applicant must provide evidence that they have the investment funds with their application.
For a ‘same business’, the endorsing body will need to confirm that:
The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.
- The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.
- The business is active and trading.
- The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.
- The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.
Endorsing bodies are listed here.
The applicant must have at least £50,000 available to invest in their business. This may include funds that are already invested in the business. However, if the endorsement letter confirms that funds are already invested no further evidence for investment funds is required. The funds can be from;
- Applicant’s own investment funds
- A UK organisation that employs at least 10 people
- An overseas or UK organisation which employs less than 10 people or;
- A third party
The main applicant must have at least £945 and £630 for each dependant available in a regulated financial institution listed in Appendix P for 90 days period.
English language requirements
An applicant of Innovator visa cant meet the Secure English Language test listed in Appendix O if ;
- The applicant has passed an English language test at CEFR Level B2
- The applicant is a national of majority English speaking country or;
- The applicant has a degree taught in English evidenced by UK NARIC equivalence
An endorsement letter is required at both extension and settlement stage. The following requirements must be met in order to apply for an extension of stay:
- Applicants must remain running a UK business or intend to incorporate a new business
- Applicants must have an existing established business accompanied with a relevant endorsement for the earlier visa
- Applicants must have at least £50,000 investment funds in order to start a new business venture, and the new business model must be assessed by an Approved Body
- Applicants must have sufficient funds to support themselves without reliance on public funding
- Applicants may include any dependents included within their current visa on the application to extend, including children who have reached 18 years of age during their stay in the UK
The applicant’s business venture meets at least two of the following requirements:
- At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.
- The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.
- The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
- The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
- The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).
Switching to this visa
The applicant’s from the following categories may be able to switch into the Start-up or innovator visa provided they meet the criteria.
- Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur (No closed)
- Tier 2
- a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V
We have experienced business immigration solicitors, who provide prompt and cost-effective advice to any individual applying for Innovator Visa from overseas or within the UK. By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We will assist you with all aspects of business immigration law, including applying for an initial application to extension or settlement. If you wish to discuss, please phone our London office on 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a UK innovator visa?
The UK Innovator Visa is a type of visa for experienced business people who want to start a new venture. The minimum investment is £50,000, and you must be endorsed by an endorsement body.
Can I work on innovator visa?
You can start a business or numerous firms with an Innovator visa. Working for your company entails being a director or being self-employed as a member of a business partnership. If your partner and children are qualified, you may bring them with you as ‘dependents.’
Will I be able to extend my Innovator visa and apply for ILR?
An Innovator visa can be extended for up to 3 years at a time, but it must be re-endorsed each time. In the Innovator category, there is no time limit. After 3 years in the Innovator visa category, you will be entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement).
Does the Innovator visa have a residence requirement?
To be eligible for indefinite leave to remain, you must have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12-month period during the 3 years following the application date.
How long is an Innovator visa valid for?
Your initial Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years.
Which endorsing body should I apply to?
The ideal endorsing body for your application will be determined by your specific needs, such as the industry in which your business will operate, the date of your application, where you want to base your business, and what kind of support, if any, your business will require.
Where can I find out more about Innovator visa endorsing bodies?
A list of endorsing bodies for Innovator visa applications has been provided by the Home Office. The names of all currently approved Innovator visa endorsing bodies, as well as links to their websites and, when available, details of their application procedure and endorsement criteria, are included in this list of endorsing bodies. Our team can help you decide which endorsing bodies are best for your application.