The Innovator Visa enables experienced business people to set up or run a business in the UK.
If you are applying for an Innovator Visa, you will need to meet some General Requirements and some additional requirements depending on whether you are considered to be endorsed for a new business or the same business.
More specifically, you are considered to be endorsed for a new business when either you are making:
- an initial application for the Innovator route and you have not been previously endorsed for the same business in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start up visa routes; or
- an extension application where the current business is different from the one which you were previously endorsed for
You are considered to be endorsed for the same business if your last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Start-up or Innovator categories and you are pursuing the same business that was endorsed for your previous leave. Many applicants are switching into this Innovator Visa category from the Start-up Visa.
You will need to meet the following requirements:
You must be at least 18 years old.
You must meet the English language requirement.
Your business must be endorsed by an approved endorsing body. You can see a list of all the authorised endorsing bodies published on the Home Office website.
You need to show that you have sufficient personal savings to support yourself while you are in the UK. In particular, you need to prove that you have had at least £945, plus £630 for each dependant in your bank account for 90 consecutive days prior to the application. Notably, you cannot use money from investment funds as proof of personal savings.
1. Requirements for New Business
If you are considered to be endorsed for a new business, you must meet the following requirements (together with the General Requirements):
- You must have at least £50,000 available in investment funds, of your own or from third parties
- Your business venture must be innovative, viable and scalable.
2. Requirements for Same Business
If you are considered to be endorsed for the same business, you must meet the following requirements (together with the General Requirements):
- You need to show significant achievements in line with the business plan for your previous application.
- Your business must be registered with Companies House and you need to be listed as a director or a member of that business.
- Your business must be active and trading.
- You need to prove that your business is sustainable for at least the following 12 months.
- You must have demonstrated an active key role in the day to day management and development of the business.
As a QC Immigration client, you will benefit from a detailed document list, document checks, thorough guide for any interview and ongoing advice to help you meet the above-mentioned requirements.
You will be required to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre in order to obtain a biometric residence permit as part of your application. Thereafter, you will have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you initially stated that you would arrive in the UK.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator if you have continually resided in the UK for at least 3 years and you meet the other eligibility requirements. For more information, see our page on Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator (insert link).
Frequently Asked Questions
How early can I apply for an Innovator Visa?
The earliest you can apply for an Innovator Visa is 3 months prior to travelling to the UK.
How long does it take to get a decision on an Innovator Visa?
A decision on an Innovator Visa can take up to 3 weeks. You can check the Home Office guide processing times to find out how long obtaining a visa might take in your country via the Home Office website.
How long can I stay in the UK on an Innovator Visa?
You can stay in the UK on an Innovator Visa for 3 years. You can apply to extend your visa for additional 3 years prior to your expiration of your visa. Notably, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) once you have completed 3 years in the UK.
Can I bring my family members with me to the UK if I am on an Innovator Visa?
You can bring your family members (‘dependants’) with you, namely your husband, wife or partner and children under 18 or children over 18 if they are currently in the UK as dependants. Importantly, your family members must apply for a visa if they are from outside the EEA or Switzerland.
Can I switch to an Innovator Visa if I am in the UK on another visa?
You may be able to switch to an Innovator Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you are in the UK on one of the following visas:
- Start-up Visa
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa
- Any Tier 2 Visa
- Tier 4 (General) Student Visa
- Standard Visitor Visa (only if you came to the UK to receive funding and hold a supporting letter from an approved endorsing body)
Do I have to be the sole founder of my business in order to qualify for an Innovator Visa?
You do not need to be the sole founder of your business(es) in order to qualify for an Innovator Visa. You can apply alongside other Innovator Applicants. Nevertheless, each applicant must be endorsed in their own right. Also, for new business applications, each applicant must prove that they each have £50,000 available in investment funds.
Will I be able to join or take over existing businesses?
You may establish a new and innovative UK business only. If you wish to join or take over an existing UK business, other visa categories are available such as:
Am I allowed to work elsewhere?
Innovators are restricted to working for their own businesses. There is, however, nothing to prevent you from establishing multiple UK businesses and working for them all.
What happens if an endorsing body loses or withdraws its status?
If an endorsement has been withdrawn or the endorsing body loses its status, the Home Office will consider curtailing the leave of any Start-up migrants or Innovators it had endorsed. They may do so with immediate effect, or to allow you to retain part of the remaining duration of their visa, or not to curtail your leave at all. If your leave is curtailed, you would need to secure a fresh endorsement from a new endorsing body.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with an Innovator visa application, please call 02036378633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today. Our fee is fixed and affordable.