The UK Innovator visa is aimed at experienced business people with a viable UK business idea.
Replacing the previous Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, the UK innovator route requires a lower capital investment than its predecessor, but endorsement must be secured by applicants from an approved entity before the Home Office visa application can be made.
WHAT IS THE UK INNOVATOR VISA?
The UK Innovator visa has been developed to attract a broad spectrum of entrepreneurs looking to set up business in Britain. The route however is only open to those who have secured appropriate endorsement from an appointed professional body.
Expert guidance will be critical to ensure you follow the new rules for making a successful application.
With so much at stake, it’s important to ensure the innovator route is the most suitable for your needs, and that each stage of the process is managed effectively to avoid issues, delays or even refusal of your application.
HOW MUCH WILL I NEED TO INVEST TO BE ELIGIBLE UNDER THE INNOVATOR ROUTE?
You will need a minimum of £50,000 to invest in your business. This is significantly lower than the £200,000 minimum requirement under the previous Entrepreneur visa.
WHAT IS THE INNOVATOR VISA APPLICATION PROCESS?
The Innovator visa application process is in two stages.
The first stage requires applicants to secure endorsement from a relevant endorsing body following an assessment of your business idea against certain criteria. You will be expected to present a comprehensive business plan detailing all aspects of your business idea, including projections for growth, profit, cashflow and job creation, to demonstrate the business meets the endorsement criteria.
If you are successful in being endorsed, you can then proceed to apply to the Home Office for the Innovator visa.
WHAT ARE THE INNOVATOR VISA ENDORSEMENT CRITERIA?
The endorsement stage will see your business idea assessed against the following general criteria:
Your business plan should demonstrate the product, service and/or its promotion is genuinely innovative, inventive and original and that it serves new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
You will need to show the business is more than an idea and that it can be made a success. This also means evidencing that you have necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
A key determinant will be potential contribution to the UK economy in the form of job creation and planning for growth into national and international markets.
You will also need to show that you will be fully committed to the business and your time in the UK under the visa will be spent wholly in the developing this specific business venture.
WHAT ARE THE INNOVATOR VISA REQUIREMENTS?
If you secure endorsement, you can proceed to make your application to the Home Office for the innovator visa. This will require you to show you:
- Are endorsed by a ‘trusted’ organisation in the UK.
- Are in regular contact with the endorsing body, at 6, 12 and 24 month intervals.
- Satisfy the English Language Requirement, Level B2.
WHO ARE THE ENDORSING BODIES?
The government operates a list of authorised bodies and organisations permitted to endorse Innovator visa applications. Contact us for advice on making your application to the relevant endorsing body.
WHAT DOES THE INNOVATOR VISA ALLOW ME TO DO?
You are only permitted to work on the business venture in question during your leave in the UK under the innovator route. This means you are not allowed to work for another business or company during your visa stay.
The regulations stipulate that visa holders are to maintain regular contact with your endorser to provide ongoing confirmation of their business activity.
HOW LONG DOES THE INNOVATOR VISA LAST?
Leave under the innovator route will be granted for three years at a time, with no maximum time limit placed on visa holders under this category.
Individuals will however have to reconfirm endorsement should they wish to extend their leave at the three year stage or apply for settlement.
CAN I SWITCH TO THE INNOVATOR ROUTE?
It may be possible to switch to the innovator route if you are in the UK lawfully under one of the following categories:
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Tier 2
- Visitor (Prospective Entrepreneur)
CAN I APPLY TO SETTLE UNDER THE INNOVATOR ROUTE?
It may be possible to apply for settlement after three years of continuous residence in the UK if you meet at least two of the following conditions:
- At least £50,000 has been invested and spent in the business
- The business has created 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 paying at least £25,000
- The business has generated gross revenue of at least £1 million
- The number of the business’ customers has at least doubled in the 3 years and is 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 is generating at least £500,000 in revenue with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas
CAN FAMILY MEMBERS JOIN ME?
Dependant family members – spouses, partners and children under 18 – can apply to join you in the UK as Dependant Migrants.