What is the UK Innovator Visa?
The UK Innovator Visa is one of the many UK business visas available to those who wish to live in the United Kingdom and start a business there. The business you want to start in the UK should be seen as dynamic, new to the UK business scene, and have a growth potential to be considered viable. Your business idea should also be approved by the official UK endorsing entity. If you hold the UK Innovator Visa, you are eligible to live in the UK for three years with the possibility of extending your stay.
What are the Innovator Visa Requirements?
Your business idea should be new to the UK, dynamic, and hold growth potential to apply for the UK Innovator Visa. It should also be approved by the official UK endorsing entity. As an applicant, you will also need to meet the following eligibility requirements –
- Be 18 years old (minimum)
- Have a minimum bank balance of 1280GBP for the last 28 days.
- Speak, write, and understand English to the required degree. You may take the SELT test to demonstrate your proficiency in English. Not required if you come from a recognized English-speaking country.
- How Much Does UK Innovator Visa Cost?
The primary application fee for a UK Innovator Visa is 1021GBP. However, if you are applying for the UK Innovator Visa, there are some other costs involved –
- Maintain a saving of 1280GBP in your bank account
- Fees for healthcare and biometric data collection (19.20GBP)
- The Innovator Visa fee also varies based on whether you are applying from within the country or abroad
- If you are establishing a business that is not yet on the market or operational, you will need minimum funding of 50,000GBP from investors
- If you are applying on behalf of your family, you will need to pay some fees per applicant.
- When Can You Make an Innovator Visa Application?
You may apply for a UK Innovator Visa from within the country and switch to this visa category from another one. You may also apply from outside the UK beforetravelling.
If you are applying from outside the country, it may take three weeks to process the application. You can enter the UK only after you receive your visa.
If you are applying from within the UK, you will likely receive your visa or rejection within eight weeks.
- Can I Apply for Innovator Visa from Outside the UK?
Yes. You may apply for the UK Innovator Visa from your home country anywhere in the world.
- How Do I Extend My Innovator Visa?
You can extend your innovator visa to stay longer in the UK. Here’s the process to follow –
- Make sure you still fulfil all the original visa requirements relating to finance, age, and the English language.
- The business you originally sought the UK Innovator Visa for should still be operational.
- You may apply on behalf of a new business – as long as it satisfies the Innovator-visa conditions.
- You will need to pay an extension fee of 1277GBP for a single applicant and each dependent.
- Can I Switch from UK Start-Up Visa to UK Innovator Visa?
If you meet all the requirements, you may switch from the UK start-up visa to the UK Innovator visa, provided you meet the eligibility criteria. Usually, those who apply for a start-up visa switch to the Innovator after some time. It is because the Start-up visa only allows holders to live in the UK for two years, while the Innovator gives you three years. Also, the start-up visa does not have the option to extend, unlike the Innovator visa.
- What Can I Do if My Innovator Visa Application is Refused?
If your UK Innovator Visa application has been refused, you may contest the decision. You have the right to re-apply also.
- Do I Need Funding or Investment for Innovator Visa Application?
Yes. If you are applying for the UK Innovator Visa, you will need to arrange minimum funding of 50000GBP from an investor beforehand.
- Can I Apply for ILR After My Innovator Visa in the UK?
Yes. A holder of the UK Innovator Visa may apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR if they fulfil the eligibility criteria for ILR under the UK Immigration Laws.
- Do I Need to Apply for a Start-Up Visa Before Applying for an Innovator Visa?
Suppose you are a businessman eligible for UK Innovator Visa and fulfil all the required criteria, especially if you have funding of more than 50000GBP. In that case, it is best to apply for the UK Innovator Visa straightaway. There is no need to apply for the Start-up Visa first.
- Should I Apply in the Innovator or Start-Up Category?
The best-suited visa category depends on your circumstances and long-term goals in the United Kingdom. While the Innovator Visa offers better chances of settlement, it requires the funding of 50000GBP. The start-up visa has a lower threshold for entry, but it allows holders to take up other employment while their business gets up and running.
- Is There an Investment Funds Requirement for an Innovator Visa?
Yes. You need to have minimum funding of 50000GBP to be eligible for an Innovator visa. You may rely on your own savings or investment from an endorsing body for these funds. However, for your business to be scalable and viable, you may be asked to show proof of availability of funds greater than 50000GBP.
They may waive this requirement if you switch to UK Innovator Visa from a start-up visa to pursue the same business venture or apply for an extension as an existing innovator to pursue the same business.
- Where Can I Find Out More About Innovator Visa Endorsing Bodies?
The UK Government has a list of approved Innovator visa endorsing bodies published by the Home Office. You can find the names of all currently approved endorsing bodies along with links to their websites and, in some places, even the details of their application process and endorsement criteria. You can also talk to your immigration consultant for advice on the most appropriate endorsing body for your application.
- Which Endorsing Body Should I Apply To?
The best fit endorsing body for your business depends on your profile, the industry you want to establish a business in, the timing of your application, the location of your business, and any other support that your business may need.
- Can Innovator Visa Applicants Join an Existing Business?
Innovator Visa applicants are usually expected to start a new innovative business that does not already exist in the United Kingdom. If you wish to join an existing business, it should not be fully formed yet.
- Can I Apply for An Innovator Visa as Part of a Team?
Although Innovator Visa applicants are expected to work as sole founders of their business, you can also apply as a part of an innovator team. Each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body. You can also not share the same funding of 50000GBP, and every team member must have investment funds of at least 50000GBP each.
- Are There Any Restrictions on the Type of Business I Can Set Up?
There are no restrictions on the type of business you can set up. You can choose to set up a business in any industry, and any location in the United Kingdom, provided that the business idea is innovative, viable, and scalable. Applicants are also free to develop other businesses while working on their primary business idea.
- What is the Role of the Endorsing Body Once I Have My Innovator Visa?
Your endorsing body plays a vital role during your stay in the UK after getting your innovator visa. You will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body and connect with them at the six months, 12 months, and 24 months checkpoints. They should be satisfied that you are pursuing your business idea and are making good progress towards establishing a successful business. If they are unhappy, they may withdraw your endorsement, and your stay in the UK may be curtailed.
- How Long is an Innovator Visa Valid for?
The initial UK Innovator Visa is valid for three years.
- Will I Be Able to Extend My Innovator Visa and Apply for ILR?
Yes. It is possible to extend the UK Innovator Visa for three years at a time, subject to being re-endorsed each time. The UK Innovator Visa is not subject to any maximum time limit. After you complete the first three years of stay in the UK, you may apply for indefinite leave to remain or ILR.
- Does the Innovator Visa Have a Residence Requirement?
The Innovator Visa does not impose any residence requirement. However, if you wish to apply for ILR, you will need to have spent not more than 180 days outside the United Kingdom in any rolling 12-month period during the three years before the date of application.
- Will I Be Able to Undertake Other Work?
As an innovator, you may undertake the development of other businesses and your main business idea. You will not be permitted to take any alternative employment other than the business that you have established. Any engagement that qualifies as disguised employment with another company will breach the conditions of your stay.
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