The Innovator visa category is for non-EEA nationals who are experienced businesspersons seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will need to have access to at least £50,000 to invest in their business (or have already invested £50,000, subject to exceptions). You will also need to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is approved and supported by an endorsing body.
Eligibility requirements for an Innovator visa
In order to qualify for an Innovator Visa applicants will need to show that they;
- Are at least 18 years old;
- Have at least £50,000 available to invest in their UK business or have already invested £50,000 in their UK business (Exempted if switching from the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up categories to pursue the same business venture or extending an existing Innovator Visa to pursue the same business venture and, in both cases, you have shown significant achievements judged against your business plan);
- If starting a new business, you must have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has given its approval for the business idea based on innovation, viability and scalability. The endorsing body must also be satisfied that the applicant will spend his/her entire working time in the UK on promoting his/her business;
- When applying to extend your visa for the same business, applicants must be endorsed by an approved endorsing body who must be satisfied that the applicant has shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in the previous endorsement;
- Applicants must be registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of the business, the business must be active, trading and appear sustainable for at least the following 12 months;
- The innovator visa holder must have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and show that he/she will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing the business venture;
- The endorsement letter was issued not more than 3 months before the date of the Innovator visa application;
- The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in his/her application;
- The applicant must be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking);
- The applicant must have at least £945 available to support himself/herself (and £630 for each dependent) without recourse to public funds;
- Applications for Innovator Visas can be made from outside the UK, or applicants can switch into this category if they were last granted leave to remain as a Start-up, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Tier 2 General or Tier 2 ICT Skilled Worker or Prospective Entrepreneur;
- Applicants can be part of an innovator team; however, each applicant must show his own £50,000 investment.
How long is the Innovator visa granted for?
The initial Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years. Applicants can extend it for a further 3 years. There is no maximum time limit in the category.
Is other employment permitted?
Innovator Visa holders cannot take up any other employment other than working for the business or businesses that they have established.
Applicants must remain in contact with their endorsing body
- Applicants are required to stay in contact with their endorsing body at, 6, 12 and 24 month intervals after the visa is granted. The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that the applicant is continuing to work in their business venture and have shown reasonable progress when considered against their original business plan and specifically in relation to the criteria of being innovative, scalable and viable. If the applicant fails to demonstrate this then the endorsement may be withdrawn and leave curtailed.
Can my partner and children be included in the application?
Partners/Spouses and any children under the age of 18 may accompany or join the applicant as his/her dependant(s).
Eligibility requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator?
- Applicants can apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) after spending 3 years in the Innovator visa category
- In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator, applicants will need to show that they:
- Have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that is satisfied that the applicant has demonstrated significant achievements when judged against the business plan assessed in previous endorsement.
- Are registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of their business.
- The business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months.
- The applicant has had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and he/she will spend their entire working time in the UK on promoting and developing the business ventures.
The applicant must prove that they have satisfied at least two of the following:
- At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering their business plan;
- 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;
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers with no average salary requirement;
- The number of 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 has generated 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.
Absences from the UK
Applicants must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the 3 years prior to the date of application.
Applicants must have sufficient knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.
How can Healys Help?
The experienced Immigration team at Healys Solicitors will prepare and submit your Innovator visa application (and those of your dependants) from the UK.
We will ensure that all supporting documents are carefully drafted to ensure compliance with UK Immigration Rules and specifically assist your bank and/or third-party funders to produce financial documents that also comply with the rules.
We’ll advise you on the best type of application for your situation and give you the insight you need to make informed decisions along the way. We aim to not only make the process as smooth as possible but to enhance it and improve the chances of your permanent residence application being successful.
We are a law firm that understands its customers and treats every individual case as something new. We focus on building relationships with our clients to ensure that we can provide them with the best legal representation and advice possible. With several decades of experience across different aspects of law, including immigration, we believe that we are in a unique position to offer our clients the best advice available on managing and processing UK visa applications.