The UK Innovator visa category is aimed at experienced entrepreneurs seeking to establish a new business in the UK. Under this route, applicants are required to demonstrate an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by a Home Office approved Endorsing Body.
Applicants applying for an Innovator visa with a new business endorsement will need to demonstrate that they have either invested or have available at least £50,000 to invest in their new business. Multiple Innovator applicants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company, however, each applicant must also independently demonstrate that they each have a separate £50,000 available to invest.
The initial visa is granted for a period of 3 years. Innovator applicants will be able to apply to extend their stay after 3 years, for a further 3 years (provided that they meet the relevant criteria) or may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The key requirement for the Innovator Visa is an Endorsement Letter from a Home office approved Endorsing Body. All applications are assessed for innovation, viability and scalability.
Entry clearance applications
In order to meet the Innovator requirements, the following criteria must be met:
- Applicants must be least 18 years old.
- The business idea must be endorsed by a relevant Endorsing Body
- The Endorsing Body must not have withdrawn the endorsement prior to the application being considered
- Applicant must have a sufficient amount of personal savings to support themselves whilst residing in the UK
- Applicant must meet the English language requirement
- Should the applicant wish to set up a new business, they must have investment funds of at least £50,000. These funds may come from a variety of sources
- Applicants may form a team with other Innovator applicants, but may not share the same investment funds and each must be able to meet the individual investment fund requirement
Innovator Visa Extensions
Innovators are able to apply to extend their stay after 3 years for a further 3-year period, or may settle permanently in the UK should certain conditions be met.
The following requirements must be met in order to apply for an extension of stay:
- Applicants must remain running a UK business, or intend to incorporate a new business
- Applicants must have an existing established business accompanied with a relevant endorsement for the earlier visa
- Applicants must have at least £50,000 investment funds in order to start a new business venture, and the new business model must be assessed by an Approved Body
- Applicants must have sufficient funds to support themselves without reliance on public funding
- Applicants may include any dependents included within their current visa on the application to extend, including children who have reached 18 years of age during their stay in the UK
Indefinite Leave to Remain Applications
Innovator Visa holders may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) following their fifth year within the UK, or after 3 years should their business have been significantly successful.
This assessment is completed by reviewing progress made and achievements accomplished. Following a one-year period of holding a settled status, the applicant may apply for naturalisation provided they are able to demonstrate continuous UK residence for a minimum of 5 years.
Applicants must meet the following requirements to apply for ILR in the Innovator category:
- Applicants must have been resident in the UK for a period of 3 years prior to the application date
- Applicants must have been granted their most recent grant of leave as an Innovator
- Applicants must be able to demonstrate satisfactory knowledge of the English language
- Applicants must have passed the Life in the UK test