Who can apply for an Innovator Visa?
The Innovator Visa is suitable for individuals who are seeking to set up or run a business in the UK. To be eligible for this visa, you will need to have a scalable business idea which is endorsed by an approved body. The business can operate in any sector as long as the idea is innovative and viable. In most cases you will need to have access to at least £50,000 to invest in your business (or have already invested £50,000 in your business), but certain exceptions apply.
Innovator visas are valid for up to 3 years and individuals may use this route to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after the 3 year period. In some cases, you can bring your partner or children with you during your stay, but you must show that you have sufficient funds to provide for them.
What are the requirements for an Innovator Visa?
The guidance for Innovator Visas are quite lengthy and can be complex. There are a number of requirements that must be met relating to your finances and business. These include (but are not limited to):
You must have at least £50,000 available to invest in your UK business or have already invested £50,000 in your UK business
Your business venture must be endorsed by an approved UK body
Your endorsement letter was issued less than 3 months before the date of your Innovator visa application;
You must spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business ventures;
You must prove your competency in the English language
Each case will demand unique evidence to prove your eligibility, therefore exact requirements may vary depending on your circumstances. We recommend speaking to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
To receive a free initial assessment of your suitability for an Innovator visa, speak to a member of our immigration team today.
Endorsement criteria for a UK Innovator visa
To apply for a Tier 1 Innovator Visa, your business idea must be approved by an endorsing body. They will need to review your proposal and be satisfied that your business idea is scalable, viable and innovative:
Innovation: Your business idea must be unique and original which either meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
Viability: You must convince the endorsing body that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business;
Scalability: Your business proposal must show potential for growth, job creation and forecast future plans.
Once you have successfully obtained approval from an endorsing body, you will need to stay in contact with them and attend checkpoints at 6, 12 and 24 months after your application is successful.
The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing business ventures. Under a Tier 1 Innovator Visa, you are not allowed to undertake any employment other than working for the business that you have established. Any arrangement which amounts to disguised employment with another employer would breach the conditions of your stay.
How long is an Innovator Visa valid for?
Your initial Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years. It is possible to extend an Innovator visa for periods of 3 years at a time, subjecting to being re-endorsed each time. There is no maximum time limit in the Innovator category.
If desired, you will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) as an Innovator after spending 3 years in the UK under the Tier 1 Innovator Visa category.
Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK as an Innovator
If you have successfully obtained a Tier 1 Innovator Visa, you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain at the end of the period. In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator you will need to satisfy at least two of the following requirements:
A minimum of £50,000 has been invested into the business and spent advancing the 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.
In addition to meeting at least two of the requirements above, you must also pass a test about Life in the UK and prove your competency of the English language. Finally you must prove that you have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the last 3 years (prior to submission of your application for indefinite leave to remain in the UK).
Speak to an experienced immigration solicitor
With business visa and immigration advisors based in Manchester, we keep in close contact with our clients throughout the process. Our extensive experience in business and working visas will guide you through the process of submitting your visa application to the Home Office.
Tier 1 Innovator Visa
Our team of experienced immigration solicitors can support your application for a Tier 1 Innovator Visa to enter the UK and run your business. Find out more here.