The Innovator visa category is for experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a new business in the UK.
Applicants will usually need a minimum of £50,000 funding available to invest in their
business which may or may not come from an endorsing body.
Innovators must work exclusively on developing their business ventures and are prohibited from taking other employment outside their business, including using their own business to hire out their labour to another employer.
Prospective innovator visa applicants must be endorsed by an approved body, known as an endorsing body. The endorsing body will assess whether the business idea is innovative, ie. different to anything else on the market, whether the plan is viable and with potential for growth.
The innovator visa replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, effectively outsourcing the primary consideration of the business plan efficacy and the applicant’s entrepreneurial business skills to the endorsing bodies.
It is not possible to join an existing business under this route.
Innovator visas are valid for 3 years and can lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the end of this period. Otherwise, an extension for a further 3 years permission can be sought provided that the business is still appropriately endorsed.
Innovator visa holders can be accompanied to the UK by their partner and their children under the age of 18.
RLegal will guide you through the complex evidential requirements and assist you from start to finish with your endorsement and visa applications. We have over 20 years experience of lodging successful applications in this and its predecessor categories. We will take the worry out of the process and give you peace of mind.
For more information, please contact us on +44 (0) 20 7038 3980 where you can talk to one of our team, email us at email@example.com or complete our online form.
Alternatively click on the links below for frequently asked questions.
If you want to set up a new business you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for an Innovator visa.
Applicants must prove where they got their funding from.
There are limited circumstances in which an applicant need not evidence investment funds such as:
Applicants can form a team with other Innovator visa applicants, but they cannot share the same investment funds, each team member must have £50,000 available for investment, e.g. a team of 2 Innovator applicants must show £100,000 in funds available to invest.
Approved endorsing bodies will assess the innovator visa applicant’s business plan against the following criteria:
To qualify for an innovator visa applicants must prove they can read, write, speak and understand English to level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. You can satisfy this requirement in a number of ways:
Applicants from some countries are exempt from the requirement to prove competence in the English language. These countries are considered to be majority English language speaking countries:
There is a basic maintenance requirement that each applicant must satisfy. Applicants must have held at least £1,270 in their bank account for 28 consecutive days before they apply for either:
Money from the investment funds cannot be used towards this requirement. It goes without saying that unlawfully acquired funds cannot be used for this purpose.
Applications are submitted via the Home Office’s online application portal. Once submitted, applicants are given access to a second service where they can upload scans of their evidence. Whilst the Home Office retains the right to request sight of the original documents, with the exception of the applicant’s passport, it is rare for the Home Office to call for submission of original documentation.
Applications outside the UK typically take at least 3-12 weeks.
Applications can be made by individuals holding lawful permission in the UK unless the applicant holds one of the following:
Applications within the UK typically take 48 hours and 8 weeks.
Home Office fees per applicant:
Immigration Health Surcharge £624 per annum, per applicant
Innovators can be accompanied to the UK by their partner and dependant children
Dependants are defined as:
Evidence of your relationship must be provided to support any dependants’ applications.
Innovators can qualify for indefinite leave to remain after 3 years if they have passed the Life in the UK Test and:
Settlement success criteria
Endorsing bodies must confirm that an applicant has achieved at least 2 of the following:
Each job must have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).
If after 3 years residence in the innovator visa category, the innovator does not qualify for settlement (indefinite leave to remain), they can apply for an extension of 3 years provided that they remain endorsed by their endorsing body.