Innovator Visa

Innovator Visa

International entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in a business in the UK can apply for an Innovator Visa. To be eligible, applicants must receive endorsement from an approved endorsing body and have at least £50,000 to invest in their business.

Innovator Visa Application

The UK Innovator Visa was created in April 2019, replacing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. The Innovator Visa route is designed for experienced businesspeople who seek to start a business in the UK. Applicants need a minimum of £50,000 to invest in the business, and their business proposal must be endorsed by an endorsing body.

The Innovator Visa lasts for three years and can be extended for a further three years. In some cases, Innovator Visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status after just three years of lawful residency in the UK.

UK Innovator Visa Eligibility

Anyone who wishes to start a business in the UK under an Innovator Visa will need to meet certain requirements.

To be eligible for the Innovator Visa, you must:

  • Be from outside the EEA and Switzerland
  • Be at least 18-years-old
  • Have at least £50,000 to invest if you want set up a new business
  • Have a business idea which has been endorsed by an approved body. (The endorsement must not have been withdrawn prior to the Home Office’s consideration of the application)
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Meet certain personal financial requirements

Multiple applicants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company, but each applicant still needs to be able to demonstrate that they have £50,000 to invest.

What is the Difference Between an Innovator Visa and a Start Up Visa?

The Start Up Visa is another type of visa for entrepreneurs. However, this visa is for less experienced entrepreneurs who are classed as high potential.

Start Up VisaInnovator Visa
Applicants do not need funds to invest in their businessApplicants need at least £50,000 to invest in their business
Must not have previously set up a business in the UKEligible if set up business in the UK in the past
Successful applicants can stay in the UK for two yearsSuccessful applicants can stay in the UK for three years
Can bring family membersCan bring family members
Can take on work outside of their business to support themselvesCannot undertake any work outside of business ventures
Visa cannot be extendedVisa can be extended

What are the Innovator Visa Requirements?

As alluded to above, there are a number of requirements which an Innovator Visa applicant will need to fulfil in order for their application to be accepted.

Business Proposal

Your business proposal will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Innovation. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have a genuine and original business plan which meets a new or existing market need, and will provide benefit to the British economy and workforce. (An applicant cannot join or invest in a business which is already trading)
  • Viability. The applicant needs to prove they have the necessary skills, knowledge and market awareness to successfully run the business
  • Scalability. The applicant will need to show that there is potential for job creation and growth
Innovator Visa Endorsing Bodies

One of the key Innovator Visa requirements is to have your business idea approved by an endorsing body. Before you start your Innovator Visa application, you must have an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body.

Endorsement bodies review the applicant’s business proposal and determine whether it meets the three key business proposal requirements, as mentioned above.

If the endorsement body approves the business proposal, an endorsement letter will be written and sent to the Home Office, with detailed information about the applicant and their business proposal.

Endorsing bodies must be able to demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs (unless a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own proven track record).

The endorsing body must explain in the letter whether they are providing the investment funds, or whether the applicant has the investment funds available to them and is ready to invest in the business (or has already done so).

A full list of business endorsing bodies can be found here. For more information on the business proposal endorsement, call us now.

What are the Financial Requirements?

As well as the requirements for investment funds, applicants must also have at least £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days before they apply for the Innovator Visa.

You cannot prove this requirement through your investment funds, or through money earned through illegal employment in the UK.

What is the English Language Requirement?

Any Innovator Visa applicant will need to prove they meet a B2 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). Bear in mind that citizens of most native English-speaking countries will be exempt from this requirement.

You will not need to fulfil any English language requirements if you:

  • Hold a degree or higher qualification taught in English which is recognised by the UK NARIC
  • Already hold a CEFR B2 level certificate in reading, writing, speaking and listening

Also, citizens of the following countries will not need to fulfil this requirement:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

All other Innovator Visa applicants will need to pass a B2 English language test in reading, writing, speaking and listening from an approved test provider to be eligible for the Innovator Visa.

For advice and guidance on the Innovator Visa application process, contact us now.

Can I Switch to the Innovator Visa from Another UK Visa?

Yes, it is possible to switch to the Innovator Visa from another UK visa.

You will need to receive endorsement from an approved body to be eligible to switch to the Innovator Visa, just as you would with a standard Innovator Visa application.

If you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK, you could switch from one of the following visas:

  • Start-up visa
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
  • Skilled Worker Visa
  • Visitor Visa, (if applicant came to the UK to get funding with a supporting letter from an endorsement body)

Additionally, if you plan to switch to this visa from a Student visa, one of the following must apply to you:

  • The start date of your job is after the completion date of your course
  • You’ve been studying for a PhD for at least 24 months

As long as you applied for the Innovator Visa before your current visa expired, you will be able to stay in the UK until a decision has been reached.

Can my Family Join Me in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?

Certain family members can join you when you travel to the UK on an Innovator Visa. Your family members will be classed as dependants of you.

The following people will be classed as dependants:

  • A partner
  • A child under 18
  • A child over 18 if currently in UK as a dependant

If you have dependants, you must have £630 in savings per dependant, in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself.

You need to prove you have the required money in your bank account (or the dependant’s bank account) for at least 90 days before you apply for the Innovator Visa.

It is also possible for a person living in the UK to switch their visa to stay with you as a dependant. In these circumstances, the dependant must apply as a dependant partner or a dependant child.

Which Documents do I need to Include in an Innovator Visa Application?

The specific documents which need to be included in the Innovator Visa application depends on your particular circumstances.

Still, the following documents will always need to be included in your portfolio of evidence:

  • Current passport or other valid travel identification
  • Proof of B2 English language test pass (if applicable)
  • Bank statements showing that you have at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
  • Evidence of your investment funds
  • Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where the test has to be taken

Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator.

It is imperative that you provide all necessary documents in your application, and that they adhere to the strict Home Office standards. Failure to do so will result in an automatic rejection.

At the Immigration Advice Service, one of our highly experienced immigration lawyers can help you compile all your relevant documents and ensure that your portfolio of evidence meets the required standards. Call us now for more information.

Innovator Visa UK Application Process

Once you have gathered all relevant documents together and have an endorsement from an approved body, you can complete the Innovator Visa application form.

The earliest you can apply for the Innovator Visa is 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK.

How Long Does it Take to Process an Innovator Visa?

If you are applying for the Innovator Visa from outside of the UK, you can expect to receive a decision from the Home Office within three weeks. Applications made from inside the UK can take up to eight weeks. Also, dependant applications will be processed within eight weeks.

The application could take longer to process if the Home Office has any concerns about your application. For instance, you could be asked to have certain supporting documents verified.

Do I Need to Provide Biometric Information?

Yes, with an Innovator Visa application, you will need to provide your fingerprints and a photo.

After you have made your application, you will be prompted to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services point to provide the photo and your fingerprints.

Our experienced immigration lawyers can provide you with all the Innovator Visa information you need.

How Much is the Innovator Visa Application?

The cost of a UK Innovator Visa depends on where you apply from and your specific situation.

Who?Standard ApplicationExtend or Switch
Your partner and children£1,036 per person£1,292 per person

How Long Can I Stay in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?

If your application is approved, you can stay in the UK for three years.

At the end of the three years you will be able to extend your visa if you still meet the eligibility requirements and are still running a business in the UK, or want to start a new one.

If your business has already been endorsed in your original Innovator Visa application, you do not need to have £50,000 in investment funds to renew your Innovator Visa.

Also, you will need to include any dependants who are on your current Innovator visa in the Innovator Visa extension application.

We look forward to helping you with your immigration case.

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