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Business Immigration

Innovator Visa

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Innovator Visa

The Innovator visa is for experienced entrepreneurs who have an innovative, viable and scalable idea to establish a business with a minimum investment of £50,000 in the UK. This route was introduced by the UK government in early 2019 effectively asserting the point that the UK is ‘open for business’ and replaces the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur route.

Innovator visa requirements

The key requirement to be eligible to apply for an innovator visa route is as follows.

  • Be 18 years old or over and have at least £50,000 available to invest in the business (or already invested if switching from start-up or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur)

  • Endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed the business idea for innovation, viability and scalability
  • Endorsing body must be reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing your business venture
  • Competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2
  • Have a credible business plan and genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK
  • Be able to support themselves and family without relying on the public funds vy meeting the maintenance requirement.

The Innovator category is for experienced entrepreneurs and must have access to either own funds or funds provided by the endorsing body of at least £50,000. Successful Innovators are granted leave for 3 years at a time and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK. Innovators must work entirely on developing their business ventures and may not take on other employment outside their business. This includes anything which effectively amounts to employment, such as using their own business to hire out their labour to another employer.

After 3 years, Innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further 3 years or settle permanently in the UK. If the innovator is applying for an extension, they must satisfy that they have been endorsed by an approved endorsing body who is satisfied that the innovator applicant progressed against the original business plan, registered with the companies house as a director, and the business is actively trading and appears sustainable for the next 12 months. In addition to this, it is also necessary to evidence that the innovator has been playing an active key role in the day to day management of the business and will spend the entire working time in the UK continuing to develop the business venture. All three stages (initial application, extension, settlement) require continuous endorsement from an endorsing body. This route is also permitted to be counted as part of the 10 year long residence settlement.

How can we assist?

Our Immigration lawyers at City Legal have immense experience in assisting entrepreneurs in setting up and expanding their business in the UK. We have also partnered with industry experts who work with us on a regular basis to assist our clients in preparing their endorsement applications. We are a multi award winning law firm and pride ourselves in being approachable, innovative and always going that extra mile to make sure our clients receive the individual attention they deserve. Our Immigration team maintains a high reputation and is committed to provide clear, transparent and reliable advice to our clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the endorsement criteria for a UK Innovator visa?

The approved endorsing body will adopt their own assessing methods to satisfy that the business proposal meets the criteria for Innovation, Viability & Scalability. In addition to this, the applicants would also need to satisfy that they will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures and have access to funds of £50,000 or is being granted the same by the endorsing body. Some endorsing bodies require an additional level of funding as a condition of endorsement.

Can I switch into the Innovator category?

The applicants may switch into an innovator visa if they were last granted leave as a Start-up, Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur, Tier 2 general or ICT, Tier 1 entrepreneur or as a prospective entrepreneur. It is also possible to apply for this route from overseas.

Can I join an existing business as an innovator visa holder?

This route is intended for entrepreneurs establishing a new business in the UK for their first time and is not suitable for joining an existing established business. It may be possible to join a business that has not fully started trading; however a new business that is to trade as part of a joint venture arrangement may be acceptable.

Can I apply for an Innovator visa as part of an entrepreneurial team?

It is possible for the applicants to apply as part of a team and share the business plan and idea; however each applicant must independently obtain the required endorsement from an approved endorsing body and cannot share the same £50,000 investment requirement; but must instead have at least £50,000 investment funds each.

Do I need to stay in touch with the endorsing body after approval?

Innovator visa holders must stay in contact with the endorsing body on checkpoints at 6, 12, and 24 months intervals and ensure that they are satisfied with the progress of the business. Failing to do so may result in endorsement being withdrawn resulting in the leave being curtailed.
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