Innovator Visa

Innovator Visa

Sterling Immigration specialize in drafting persuasive business plans in support of UK Innovator Visa applications.

Awards and Accreditations

The Innovator visa category is for experienced businesspersons seeking to establish a business in the UK.  You will need to have £50,000 to invest in your business (unless switching from the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up category or extending as an existing Innovator to pursue the same business venture) and have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.

Eligibility requirements for an Innovator visa?

In order to qualify for an Innovator visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are at least 18 years old;
  • You have at least £50,000 available to invest in your business or have already invested £50,000 in your business;   
  • You must also have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has positively assessed your new business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business venture;
  • You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application;
  • You do not intend to work in the UK other than for the business(es) you have established;
  • Any money which you claim is available is genuinely available and you intend to use it for the purposes described in your application;
  • You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking); and
  • You have at least £945 (additional to any investment funds required) available to support yourself without relying on public funds.

Key Considerations for Innovator visa holders

Applications for Innovator visas can be made from outside the UK, but it is also possible to switch into the Innovator visa category from within the UK if you were last granted leave to remain as a Start-up, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Tier 2 General or Tier 2 ICT Skilled Worker or Prospective Entrepreneur.

You do not need to be the sole founder of your business and you may be a member of an innovator team.  However, innovator team members that are required to satisfy an investment funds requirement cannot share the same £50,000 but must instead have at least £50,000 investment funds each. 

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.  There is no maximum time limit in the category.

You will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) after spending 3 years in the Innovator visa category. In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator you must again be endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that is satisfied that you have shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement, you are a registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, your business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months, you have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business ventures.

You will also have to satisfy at least two of the following:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering your business plan;
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary for 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 order to qualify for settlement you will also need to have spent not more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the 3 year period of your visa and have sufficient knowledge of English and Life in the UK.

As an Innovator visa holder you will not be permitted take any employment other than working for the business or businesses that you have established. 

You will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body with checkpoints at 6, 12 and 24 months after your application is successful.  The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress in relation to either your original or a new business idea that is innovative, scalable and viable. Your endorsement may be withdrawn and your leave curtailed if this is not the case.

Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany or join you as your dependant(s).

How our immigration lawyers can help

Our team of immigration lawyers has experience in assisting all types of startup businesses.  Our lawyers are experts in the immigration options for startups and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

For further information, please schedule a consultation.

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