Applying for your innovator visa
Who the UK innovator visa is for
The innovator visa category is very similar to the startup visa category in that it allows for people from non-EEA and Switzerland countries to move to the UK and start or progress their business. It has replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route since 29th March 2019.
Unlike the startup visa, the innovator visa is specifically aimed at more experienced business-people who are seeking to establish a presence for their company in the UK, rather than people just beginning their business career. Whilst in the UK on this type of business visa, you will only be allowed to carry out work for your business or businesses. You cannot work for anyone else.
It is valid for three years, after which it can be extended for another three years. There is no limit on how many times you can extend your innovator visa. It can be applied for on its own, or as a leave extension of someone who has been in the UK on a startup visa for two years.
After five years continuous residence in the UK under this business visa, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, which is permanent residence, after which you can apply for British citizenship.
Requirements for the innovator visa
The requirements for this visa are very similar to that of the start up visa, with just a few additional requirements. All applicants must:
- Be 18 years old or more
- Be able to speak English to a certain level
- Have held £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days
- Have been endorsed by an approved and regulated UK body
- Be able to prove that they have a genuine, original business plan
- Have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to successfully run the business
- Provide evidence of structural planning and potential for growth of the business
In addition to these requirements, you must be able to prove that you have at least £50,000 in investment funds. Unlike with the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, with the new innovator visa two individuals cannot share investment funds, even if they are part of the same business.
Our immigration team can help you determine if you are eligible to apply for a visa, and will help you put together and submit your application if you are.
Who can apply?
If you meet all of the requirements listed above, you will be able to apply for an innovator visa. You do not have to be the sole founder of the business so can be part of a team, so long as each member of the team has above the minimum investment threshold.
Unlike with the previous category of Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visas, in order to be granted leave via the innovator route you do not have to be a university graduate.
You also have to be from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland in order to apply for this visa.
How to apply
If this will be your first time coming to the UK, you will need to apply under the ‘new business’ subsection of the innovator visa category.
Currently, if you in the UK under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category and wish to extend your stay using the innovator category to continue work in the same business, you can select either the ‘new business’ or ‘same business’ subsection. However, in future, those who first apply for a startup visa and then wish to extend their leave and expand the same business using the innovator visa will have to apply under the ‘same business’ subsection.
Applications for the innovator visa are submitted online. Since this is a brand new visa category, it is worth getting professional legal help and advice in order to give you the best chance of success.
The earliest you can apply for this visa is 3 months before you are due to travel to the UK. The fees to apply from outside the UK are £1,021 or £966, depending on where you’re a registered citizen, and £1,277 or £1,222 if you are switching from another visa category inside the UK.
Innovator visa application support
How we can help you apply for your innovator visa
The prospect of expanding your business in the UK is very exciting. We can help make sure that the process remains as stress-free and simple as possible for you, helping and supporting you from the very start of your application all the way until your visa is granted.
Our extensive knowledge of business immigration and years of experience helping business-people grow their companies in the UK means that with us you have the best chance of success.
A 30-minute consultation with one of our immigration solicitors can be held in our offices or over the phone or Skype. We do not offer free advice and will charge a non-refundable £95 fee per consultation.