Innovator Visa Application
The UK Innovator Route is designed for applicants who wish to start or pursue their business idea in the UK.
Business visas, including the permit for foreign investors, are aimed at attracting experienced entrepreneurs and business persons seeking to establish innovative and viable companies in the UK. However, to be valid, the business idea must be endorsed by a recognised body, who will first assess your business plan.
To receive professional guidance on your application and your bundle of supporting documents, get in touch with one of our expert immigration lawyers in London.
Innovator Visa eligibility
To be eligible for an Innovator Visa, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Intend to set up or run a business in the UK;
- Have a business idea that has received an endorsement from an approved body;
- Have £50,000 of funds available to be invested in your business;
- Show that your money is genuinely available and you intend to use it for the purpose described in your forms;
- Demonstrate that you are capable of undertaking any business activity stated in your documents;
- Satisfy the English language requirements (at least level B2);
- Not be intending to work in the UK other than for the business you have established;
- Have at least £945 (additional to your investment funds required) available to support yourself.
Required supporting documents
Along with your application forms, you must provide an original copy of one of the following:
- Bank statements (dated not earlier than one calendar month before the date of your request) or a letter from your bank, confirming that the money is available (for funds held by the applicant);
- Business accounts showing the amount of money that has been invested and the name of the accountant (for funds already invested in another business);
- A signed declaration underlining the connection between the applicant and the company, if the source of your funds is a UK organisation.
If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you must also attach a full translation. A letter from a legal representative may be needed to confirm all third parties’ permissions to invest the funds in your business idea.
You must not forget to attach to your bundle of documents the letter from your endorsement body confirming the availability of your funds.
What is the English language requirement?
To obtain your Innovator Visa, you must have at least a B2 level of written and spoken English language ability. You can satisfy this requirement either by:
- Being a national of a majority English speaking country;
- Passing an accredited English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening;
- Holding a degree which is deemed by the NARIC to meet the recognised standard of a degree awarded in the UK.
If you have been given prior permission to stay in the UK as a Innovator, Skilled Worker or Student Visa holder, you will not need to provide any evidence of your knowledge of English.
How do I meet the maintenance funds requirements?
Eligible applicants must demonstrate they have at least £945 of available funds for personal sustainment, plus a further £630 for each dependant they wish to bring in the UK. Besides, your family must also provide evidence of adequate and sufficient funds.
The UKVI will verify if your savings have been available for a consecutive 90-day period in the form of cash funds held in your account. Other financial instruments, such as shares, bonds, credit card, and pension funds are not acceptable.
If your funds are held in a joint account, your name must be on the account along with one or more other individuals.
Can I settle in the UK on an Innovator Visa?
After 3 years of continuous residence as a foreign investor, you may be able to settle in the UK, provided that you meet at least two of the following conditions:
- You have invested and spent in your business at least £50,000;
- Your business has created at least ten full-time jobs for resident workers;
- Your business has generated gross revenue of at least £1 million;
- Your company has engaged in development activity and has applied for intellectual protection in the UK;
- The number of your customers has at least doubled in the 3 years before your settlement application;
- Your business has generated at least £500,000 in revenue, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
Your eligibility will be also reviewed based on your continuous residence in the UK. This means that you must not have spent more than 180 days in any consecutive 12-month period abroad.
How to submit a valid business idea?
Applicants who wish to set up or run a business in the UK can apply for an Innovator Visa. They must provide evidence of their business idea, which must meet the following criteria:
- Innovation: your idea must be new, meaning that you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading in the UK;
- Scalability: your business must demonstrate potential for growth;
- Viability: you must have the necessary skills and experience to run the business successfully;
- Commitment: you must spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business, and you will not be allowed to work for any other company.
To get an endorsement from an approved body for setting your business, you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds. You do not need funds if your business is already existing and has been endorsed for an earlier application.
Your endorsing body will review your business with checkpoints at 6, 12 and 24 months after the date you started your business. If you fail to demonstrate reasonable progress, your endorsement may be withdrawn, and your leave curtailed.
What are the Innovator Visa fees?
It costs £1,021 to apply for an Innovator Visa.
Besides, you will be charged an extra £19.20 for having your biometrics collected. You will also be required to pay the healthcare surcharge.
If you are applying with your dependants, you must pay an additional £1,021 for each family member that you wish to bring in the UK with you.
Can I change my current status to an Innovator Visa?
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While in the UK under this visa category, you cannot:
- Being employed by another business;
- Work as a doctor or dentist in training;
- Work as a professional sportsperson or a sports coach;
- Get public funds.
If you have been previously endorsed for your business idea as a part of another application, you can obtain an Innovator Visa if both of the following apply:
- Your last grant of leave was either in the Graduate Entrepreneur, Start-up or Innovator categories;
- You are pursuing the same business venture that was assessed as a part of your application that led to your grant of leave.
Multiple innovators working on the same business idea can be eligible to apply as a team, provided that each applicant has been endorsed in their own right. Besides, each member of the team must hold their own unique £50,000 of funds available to invest in the company.
If your money is currently held abroad, you must demonstrate that it is freely transferable in the UK and that it can be converted to pound sterling.
As a general rule, all money held in an overseas financial institution regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) satisfies this requirement. The transfer of funds not held in an FCA account must be confirmed by a document from the financial institution.
Innovator Visa holders are allowed to study in the UK, provided that this does not prevent them from engaging in their business activities.
If your application is successful, you will be allowed to stay in the UK for up to 3 years. After this time, you can apply to extend your permit for another 3 years.
As a general rule, the UKVI will send you its decision on your case within 3 weeks. However, the waiting time may be shorter if you have submitted your application from within the UK.
If you are currently abroad, the earliest you can apply is three months before the date you plan to enter the UK.