What is the Innovator Visa?
The Innovator Visa is a UK business visa that replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in 2019. The Innovator Visa is for people who plan to start a business in the UK. To be eligible you must have at least £50,000 available to invest in your business.
The other main requirement for the Innovator Visa is that you must have your innovative business idea endorsed by an approved endorsing body. To do this you will need to present an original business plan
If your application is approved, the Innovator Visa will allow you to live in the UK for up to three years. The visa can also be extended after this and you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK after just 3 years of living in the country.
What are the criteria for the business idea?
Your business proposal is a key part of your Innovator Visa application, you need a good business plan so that it will be endorsed by an approved body. If you do not have a business plan that has been endorsed then your application will not be approved.
There are 3 main endorsement criteria that your plan will need to meet, your business idea must be:
- Innovative – This means that your business idea is original and it meets new or existing market needs or creates a competitive advantage.
- Viable – This means that your business plan must be realistic based on the market awareness, skills and knowledge and experience that you have in relation to running a business.
- Scalable – This means that there is evidence of structured planning and the protentional for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
An approved endorsing body will need to assess your business proposal to determine whether it meets the above criteria. If it does then they will send a letter of endorsement to the Home Office. Endorsing bodies must have a track record of supporting entrepreneurs in the UK and must be approved by the Home Office. A list of all the approved endorsing bodies can be found on the gov.uk website.
How to structure an Innovator Visa business plan
To give your plan a good chance of being endorsed it must be structured in a clear and coherent way. There is no set layout that you must follow but you should ensure that your plan clearly shows that you meet the criteria for this visa.
Some things that you should include in your business plan include:
- An executive summary – an introduction to you and your proposal
- Description of your business idea
- Organisation structure and legal considerations
- Product or service description
- Market analysis
- Marketing and promotion plans
- Competitor analysis – looking at any opportunities that you can exploit
- Finances and budget
- Risk management
By including these elements you will develop a strong business plan that is more likely to receive an endorsement. As well as the above elements you should ensure that you clearly address how you meet the criteria for the Investor Visa, more details about this are given below.
Usually, in your business plan, you will need to demonstrate that your business idea is a genuinely new idea and that it is not merely competing with another business that already exists.
However, in some circumstances, your business plan may be counted as innovative if it is similar to another business but you have a competitive advantage to your plan such as a more cost-efficient model or a superior product. Whether this applies will depend on the endorsing body that is evaluating the business plan.
To prove that your proposed business is innovative you should explain in your plan what makes your business idea new, what gap in the market your business will fill and if there are already similar businesses to yours you should explain what makes your idea different.
A company will only endorse your business plan if you can show that you will actually be able to deliver the business idea. To prove that your business plan is viable you will need to demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to deliver on your business plan.
To meet the viability requirement you should consider including the following information in your business plan:
- Information about your professional and academic background
- Details about how your experience will help you – you don’t necessarily need to have run a similar business before, transferable skills can also be included to help demonstrate the viability
- How you plan to handle competition
- When you project the business to begin making a profit by
- Information about who your clients/customers will be
- Details about your advertising and marketing plans
- Details about any recruitment or training plans you have to fill skill gaps
As well as being innovative and viable your business plan will also need to show that your business idea has the potential for growth and job creation into both national and international markets.
To demonstrate that your idea is scalable you should include information about which markets you plan to expand into, how you plan to expand into these markets and how you intend to fund your expansion.
It’s important to note that scalability is not just about whether your business has the potential to grow, a business can only be properly considered as scalable if it has operational leverage. This means that your business mustn’t add revenue and operating costs at an equal rate, instead, you will need to demonstrate that your business is capable of increasing revenue with only small additional operating costs.
How to find an endorsing body
Once you have completed your Innovator Visa business plan the next step is to find an endorsing body to approve the plan.
The term “endorsing body” is used to refer to organisations that have expertise when it comes to identifying, developing and investing in businesses related to their sectors. The endorsing body for your Innovator Visa application must be one that has been approved by the UK government, the list of approved bodies changes but an up to date list can be found on the gov.uk website.
Every endorsing body will have a different process for how they evaluate your business so it’s important to choose the most appropriate endorsing body for you and that you follow the relevant process that they have.
Some endorsing bodies only open their applications for certain periods of the year, some only accept applicants who have been accepted onto one of their programmes and some only endorse applications for businesses in certain sectors. There are important factors to consider when choosing which endorsing body to contact.
How can London Immigration Lawyers help?
The Innovator Visa is very competitive, this is because it offers a much quicker route to permanent residency in the UK than lots of other visas but also because endorsing bodies are limited to how many plans they can endorse every year.
In order for your application to be successful, you will need a very good business plan. Our immigration lawyers have an in-depth knowledge of the immigration rules and know exactly what it takes to meet the eligibility criteria for the Innovator Visa. Our lawyers can assist you with writing your Innovator Visa business plan and can offer you professional legal advice throughout the application process.
As well as assisting you with your business plan, our lawyers can also help you with other parts of the UK Innovator Visa application process, including the application form and help with gathering your supporting documents.
For more information about how our immigration lawyers can help you, get in touch with our team today on 020 4502 8582.
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