Innovator Visa

The Innovator visa is one of the new UK immigration routes outside of the Points Based System. The innovator route allows non-EU citizens to set up or run a business in the UK. The main characteristic of this route is that an approved body must endorse the business or business idea.

How to get endorsement by an approved body

The first step to applying for the Innovator visa is to obtain endorsement by an approved body. The endorsing bodies operate outside of the Home Office. The approved body will assess the business or business idea. The idea must be a new idea and viable with growth potential. It is not possible to join or invest in a business that is already trading.

If the applicant is successful in his/her endorsement, they will receive an endorsement letter. This document can then be submitted with the Innovator visa application. Please get in touch with one of our consultants for assistance to get endorsed by an approved body. We will provide clients with full guidance in this matter.

How to qualify for the Innovator Visa

After the first step of getting an endorsement letter, applicants will have to fulfil some other criteria to qualify.

Applicants have to be 18 years or older.

You have to have at least £50,000 in investment funds. You do not need to prove these funds if you have an established business or have been endorsed for an earlier visa. It is also possible to form a team of Innovator applicants. However, every team must have £50,000 in investment funds for each applicant.

Meet the English language requirement. You will have to pass an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Alternatively, you will have to be a national from a recognised English speaking country. It is also possible to fulfil the English language requirement if you have an academic qualification taught in English, recognised by UK NARIC as equivalent to a UK degree.

You will also have to prove that you will be able to support yourself and any dependents on your visa. You will have to show that you have at least £945 in your bank for 90 consecutive days. There is also an additional amount of £630 for each dependant.

Switching to the Innovator Visa

Non-EU citizens currently in the UK in other immigration routes can switch to the Innovator route.

The Home Office allows switching to the Innovator visa from the following categories;
The new Start-up visa, Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and any of the Tier 2 visa routes. The Home Office even allows persons on a standard visitor visa to switch to the Innovator visa, provided that they came to the UK to get funding and have a supporting letter from the endorsing body. In all other cases, an applicant will have to leave the UK, and apply from outside the UK.

Length of Stay and right to work

You can stay in the UK for three years on the Innovator Visa. It is possible to apply to extend the visa for another three years when the visa is due to expire. There is not a limit on the number of times a person can extend.

You will be allowed to set up one or several businesses. You will also be able to work for your business. This includes being employed as director or even self-employed as a member of a business partnership. You will not be allowed to work outside your business.

Spouses and Dependents of the Innovator Visa holder

You can apply for your spouse /civil partner /unmarried partner and children under 18 years to join you in the UK. If your child is over 18, and currently in the UK as a dependent, they can also qualify.
The dependents will receive the same period of leave as the main applicant. The spouse or partner will be able to work without restriction in the UK.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

After five years in the UK on the status of Innovator, it will be possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. After another year with the status of Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be able to apply for British citizenship.

How to apply as Innovator

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a highly trained and experienced team of consultations dealing with business visas. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.