Following changes to the Immigration Rules on 29 March 2019, the new Innovator visa has replaced the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa category. Migrants currently holding a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa can still apply to extend their visa or apply for settlement permitted they meet the eligibility criteria.
The Innovator visa category is for more experienced business people seeking to establish a business or run a business in the UK and are from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
Applicants will be required to have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.
How can your business meet the requirements of being Innovative, Viable and Scalable?
The business idea must be genuine, innovative and inventive. There must also be a market requirement for the business idea and for the business to create a competitive advantage.
Applicants will be required to establish that they have the relevant knowledge, skills and experience to successfully set-up and run a business in the UK.
A business plan which will be required as part of the application will be required to show that the business can be profitable in the UK.
Applicants will need to establish how the business will contribute to the UK economy, i.e. job creation, and growth in the UK and international markets.
What is an endorsing body?
An endorsing body is an organisation which has been approved by UK Visas & Immigration (‘UKVI’) to endorse applications as part of the Innovator Visa application.
Endorsing bodies include leading incubators, accelerators, government bodies, and business development agencies. The main requirement for an endorsing body is that they must have an existing track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs.
All applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain must obtain an endorsement letter from an approved UKVI endorsement body
Please click on the link below for a list of all current endorsing bodies:
Endorsing bodies will be required to confirm that the business ventures will be innovative, viable, and scalable.
Apart from issuing endorsements to new businesses, endorsing bodies will also be required to stay in contact with businesses at the 6-month, 12-month, and 24-month marks, also known as ‘check-points’.
It will also be the responsibility of the endorsing bodies to inform UKVI if they are not satisfied with the progress of a business or if the business in is breach of their visa conditions.
What investments funds are required for an Innovator visa?
Applicants must have at least £50,000 in investment funds available to invest in a business. This may include funds which have already been invested in the business.
If the business has received investment funds from an endorsing body, applicants will be required to provide written confirmation from the endorsing body that at least £50,000 funds are available or have been invested in the business.
Other key requirements
All applicants must be 18 years of age at the date of the application.
English Language requirement
Applicants must the English language requirement by passing an approved English language test with at least a CEFR level B2 in speaking and listening or have a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English and your qualification is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher.
However, nationals of majority English speaking countries e.g. USA, Australia, Canada, will not be required to meet the English language requirement.
Applicants will be required to show personal savings of at least £945 in a bank account for 90 consecutive days before submitting the application.
Can I apply as part of a team?
Applicants can form a team with other Innovator applicants but cannot share the same investment funds.
Innovator teams must have £50,000 for each Innovator applicant. For example, if you have two Innovator applicants, the team must have £100,000 to invest.
How long can you stay on an Innovator Visa?
Successful applicants are granted leave for 3 years at a time and can bring their family members to the UK.
After 3 years, applicants can apply to extend their stay for a further 3 years or apply to settle permanently in the UK.
Applicants cannot have had more than 180 days’ absence from the United Kingdom during any consecutive 12 months of the qualifying period prior to making an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’).
After a 12-month period from being granted ILR, applicants may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.
If you require further advice in relation to the Innovator Visa, please feel free to contact us on 0161 826 6922.