LS Legal News Bulletin
UK Innovator Visa: Start Your Business in the UK
Wednesday 17th August 2022
Who is eligible for an Innovator visa?
The Innovator visa is for experienced entrepreneurs looking to establish a new business in the UK. With a few exceptions, you need to have access to at least £50,000 to invest in your business from a legitimate source. You must have a business idea that is (a) innovative, (b) scalable, and (c) viable, which is supported by an endorsing body. Innovator visas are valid for three years and can lead directly to indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the end of this period. Innovator visa applicants can bring their partner and children under 18 to the UK.
Who is the Innovator Visa suitable for?
The Innovator visa is designed for businesspeople with an existing business or business idea and sufficient investment funds. The business idea may relate to any sector, provided the idea is sufficiently innovative, viable and scalable. If you do not have solid business experience or investment funds, you might consider a Start-up visa, a Skilled Worker visa or the UK Expansion Worker (Global Mobility) visa.
What are the eligibility requirements?
- English language - You need a UK degree taught in English or pass an approved English language exam with a minimum CEFR level of B2.
- Age - You must be at least 18 years old.
- Maintenance funds - You should have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 days before your visa application. You cannot rely on money from your investment.
- Credibility - You intend to undertake and can undertake the business activity referred to in your visa application.
- Investment Funds Requirement - You need to have a minimum of £50,000 to invest in your UK business. You can rely on your own money or the funding your endorsing body provides.
Funds should have been held for three consecutive months. In practice, you may need to invest more than £50,000. There are endorsing bodies that require an additional level of funding as one of the conditions for the endorsement letter.
The investment funds requirement does not apply to applicants switching from the Start-up visa to continue working for the same business.
Which endorsing body to choose?
The Home Office published a list of endorsing bodies for Innovator visa applications. The choice for your application will depend on your business's industry, your application's timing, where you plan to base your business geographically, and what support your business requires.
How can we help with securing endorsement?
Our solicitors can advise on the most appropriate endorsing bodies for your application. We are a trusted introducer to several endorsing bodies, ensuring eligible clients' direct contact with endorsing body panel members and timely and transparent decision-making.
What are the endorsement criteria?
To gain entry clearance or leave to remain in the Innovator category, an applicant must be endorsed by an endorsing body.
The endorsement letter must confirm two things:
a) The applicant's business venture is innovative, viable and scalable, as per the definitions of these concepts below:
Innovation - The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and creates a competitive advantage.
Viability - The applicant's business plan is realistic and achievable based on available resources. The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to run the business successfully.
Scalability - There is evidence of structured planning and potential for job creation and growth in national and international markets.
b) The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures.
Length and conditions of stay
A successful applicant for the Innovator category will receive a visa valid for three years. Similarly, extensions of visa under this category will be for three years. There is no limit to the number of times an applicant can extend the Innovator visa.
As an Innovator, you will be able to develop other businesses and your main business idea. However, you will not be permitted to take any employment other than working for the company endorsed for the Innovator visa. Any arrangement which amounts to disguised employment with another employer would breach the conditions of your stay.
UK Innovator Visa: Your questions answered
Am I able to undertake other work in the UK while on an Innovator visa?
You are not permitted to take any employment other than working for a business endorsed for the Innovator visa.
What is the difference between Innovator and Start-Up visa?
If you have the Innovator visa, you are on the route to settlement if you wish.
Can I apply for an Innovator Visa as a member of a team?
Yes, but each member of your team must receive their own individual endorsement and you cannot share the same £50,000.
What are the criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain?
You must have three years of continuous residence in the UK and meet at least two of the following Criteria with revenue, job creation and R&D of your business.
How we can help?
We are able to assist both with the innovative business idea, as well as to get this pre-approved with the Endorsing Body. Our immigration team has experience in assisting entrepreneurs and their businesses. We are experts in the immigration options for innovators and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.
For more information on UK Innovator Visa, please contact our team to speak with one of our lawyers.