The Innovator visa is an ideal route for entrepreneurs with a new business idea who wish to start a company in the United Kingdom or experienced businessmen that have been running a business outside the United Kingdom for many years and wish to expand it to the U.K. You can apply either alone or with a business partner or team but each person needs to fulfill the criteria. It is also possible to switch to the Innovator category if the applicant is already in the U.K. on specific types of business visas. Applicants can also apply to bring their partner and children.
What you can and cannot do:
You can : a) set up one or more businesses
b) apply to settle permanently after 3 years (indefinite leave to remain) if meeting other eligibility requirements.
You cannot : a) work outside of your business
b) work as a professional sportsperson
c) apply for most benefits or the state pension
• The applicant must show, in a business plan, that the business idea is:
1. Innovative- The applicant has a new, genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage and is something not in the market already.
2. Viable. The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to successfully run the business so that it can grow.
3. Scalable. There is evidence of structured planning and potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
• The applicant must be endorsed by an authorized body that is either:
1. A U.K. higher education institution.
2. A business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs, who might have additional charges for bespoke support.
• The applicant cannot switch to the Innovator visa if on :
1. a visit visa
2. a short-term student visa
3. a Parent of a Child Student visa
4. a seasonal worker visa
5. a domestic worker in a private household visa
6. immigration bail
7. permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds.
• The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
• The applicant must have at least £50,000 available (with proof of source of funds) to invest in the U.K. business or have already invested £50,000 in the U.K. business (this requirement is waived if switching from the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up category to pursue the same business venture or extending it as an existing Innovator to pursue the same business venture).
• If applying to set up a new business venture, the applicant should be endorsed by an approved U.K. endorsing body that has positively assessed the applicant’s business idea for innovation, viability, and scalability and is satisfied that the applicant will spend the entire working time in the U.K. on developing the business venture.
• If applying to continue the same business venture as the initial application, the applicant should be endorsed by an approved U.K. endorsing body that is satisfied seeing the significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in the previous endorsement and the applicant had registered with Companies House as a Director or Member/Shareholder of the business.
• The applicant’s endorsement letter must be issued not more than 3 months before the date of the Innovator visa application.
• The applicant must genuinely intend to undertake and must be capable of undertaking the work or business activity in the U.K. as stated in the application.
• The application must be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking) unless from an exempt country.
• The applicant must have at least £1,270 available for 28 consecutive days before applying for the first time, extending or switching (and £285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child dependant) without relying on public funds and cannot use money from investment funds or illegal working.
• Documents you need include- valid passport or ID to show nationality, Bank statements showing savings, proof of English knowledge, evidence of investment funds, and a Tuberculosis test.
• The current Home Office application fee for an Innovator visa is £1,021 if applying from outside the UK or £1,277 if applying to switch into the category from within the U.K. plus biometric information nominal costs. The same rate applies to your family. A healthcare surcharge is also payable.
• Each family member needs to make a separate application and pay the visa fee.
• It can take up to 3 weeks (if the applicant is outside the U.K.) or 8 weeks (if the applicant is in the U.K.). You must not travel outside the U.K. while the decision is being made. You can pay and have a faster decision. You can even cancel the application and get refunded if the process has not started.
• The initial Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years. The applicant can apply to extend their stay for another 3 years when the visa is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times it can extend.
• If the endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body, then the visa may be cut short. If the applicant wishes to stay longer, then he/she must re-apply with a new endorsement before the current visa expires.
• The main requirement for the extension of the visa is that the original endorsement should not be withdrawn by the endorsing body and the applicant must have earned money in the respective expert field.
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