What is the Innovator Visa?
The Innovator visa is a category of visa for experienced business people who want to establish a business in the UK and have a viable, scalable and innovative business idea. The business idea and plan must be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body. The visa category may lead to UK settlement.
‘Same business’ or ‘new business’
The Immigration Rules distinguish between applicants who are applying under the ‘new business’ criteria and those applying under the ‘same business’ criteria. Those who are coming to the UK for the first time will need to apply under the ‘new business’ requirement, as opposed to the ‘same business’
When an applicant who has leave to remain as an Innovator makes an application to extend their stay in the UK, they will need to apply under the ‘same business’ criteria if the business remains the same as that referred to in the original endorsement letter. If the business is different, they will need to apply under the ‘new business’ criteria.
The key distinction is that the ‘new business’ criteria requires an investment and a different type of endorsement, which we refer to below.
In order to be granted a visa under the Innovator route (‘new business’), the applicant’s business must meet the following requirements:
The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
Applicants who are applying under the ‘new business’ criteria must demonstrate that they have access to at least £50,000 for investment in the business. They can also demonstrate that they have already invested the funds in the business.
If two individuals are applying for Innovator visas to join the same business, they cannot share the investment funds.
Applicants must obtain an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body to submit with their application.
For a ‘new business’, the endorsing body will review the applicant’s business proposal and decide if it meets the above tests of innovation, viability and scalability. If so, it will provide specified information to the Home Office in the endorsement letter about the applicant and their business. The letter must be dated within three months of the date of the immigration application.
The applicant must be able to persuade the Home Office that they genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, the work/business activity referred to in their application
The applicant may be invited to a credibility interview.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
Applicants must be able to speak English to Level B2 CEFR.
The applicant must have held at least £945 for a consecutive period of at least 90 days. Where dependants are applying, the applicant must also demonstrate that the maintenance requirement for them is met.
Length of visa
Successful applicants will be granted leave to enter for three years initially and, providing they meet the extension requirements, they can then apply to extend their stay.
Innovators can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) after five years in the category
Subject to meeting certain criteria regarding the number of jobs created, the investment made and the income generated it is possible for the Innovator to apply for ILR after only three years.
We have considerable experience in preparing business-related visa applications. If you would like to discuss matters further please contact Charles Green, Consultant Partner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone to 07955112218