Applying for an Innovator Visa

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What is the Innovator Visa?

The UK Innovator Visa is the immigration method used by experienced business people to enter the UK so they can start and invest in innovative businesses in the UK. If you’re looking to come to the UK to start a new business, then the Innovator Visa is necessary for you to enter the country.

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    who is eligible for the Innovator Visa?

    Eligibility for the Innovator Visa is based on meeting several core requirements and being able to provide specific documentation.

    Criteria for eligibility include:

    • English language Proficiency

    • An endorsement letter from a registered endorsing body

    • Capital to start up your business

    • Funds to be able to live off whilst in the UK

    What is the Difference Between an Innovator Visa and a Start Up Visa?

    Start Up Visas are an alternative route to enter the country if you’re looking to start a business but are intended for less experienced entrepreneurs who are deemed to have high potential. The full list of differences between the two visas can be found below:

    Start-Up Visa

    • Applicants do not need funds to invest in their business

    • Must not have previously set up a business in the UK

    • Successful applicants can stay in the UK for two years

    • Can bring family members

    • Can take on work outside of their business to support themselves

    • Visa cannot be extended

    Innovator Visa

    • Applicants need at least £50,000 to invest in their business

    • Eligible if set up business in the UK in the past

    • Successful applicants can stay in the UK for three years

    • Can bring family members

    • Cannot undertake any work outside of business ventures

    • Visa can be extended

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      Business Proposal

      As part of your Innovator Visa application, you will be required to send through a business proposal that outlines what your business is. Your business proposal needs to meet three criteria:

      • Innovation –You must be able to show that you have a genuine and original business plan which meets a new or existing market need.

      • You cannot –join or invest in a business that is already trading.

      • Viability –You need to prove that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, and market awareness to successfully run the business.

      • Scalability – You need to show that there is potential for job creation and growth

      Your business proposal will need to be sent to an Endorsing Body who will provide you with an endorsement letter proving you’re business meets the criteria.


      Bodies & Endorsement Letters

      Endorsing bodies are organisations that have a demonstratable track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs. They have a designated role in the Innovator Visa process of being used to identify legitimate business plans. To do this they will compare your business plan to the criteria listed above. They will then provide you with an endorsement letter which you can use to show that your business idea is viable.

      The endorsement letter is also used to show where your investment fund is coming from. Some endorsing bodies will offer investment money, and they will highlight if they are providing the funds in their endorsement letter. If they are not providing the funds, then they will indicate that this is the case in the endorsement letter and will indicate whether or not you have the funds available to you to invest in the business.

      A full list of endorsing bodies can be found here.

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      Capital Funding


      As part of the application process for the Innovator Visa, you will be expected to show that you possess enough funds to start up your business. These funds must be available when you are applying for your innovator visa.


      much money will you need to show?

      You will need to show that you have at least £50,000 in investment funds ( per person that’s helping set up the business) if you want to set up a new business.

      You will also need to show that you meet the maintenance requirements of:

      • £945 in savings for 90 days

      • £630 / dependent for 90 days

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      documents you must provide

      As well as meeting the above criteria you will need to provide various documentation that demonstrates you meet the requirements.

      These include:

      • A current passport or another form of valid travel identification (with a blank page in them)

      • Bank statements showing you have the £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply

      • Proof of your English Language Requirement

      • Evidence of Your Investment Funds

      • Tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where the test is required.

      If any of these documents are not in English or Welsh, you’ll need to provide a certified translation. 

      What are the fees?

      The fees you pay for your Innovator Visa are set based on where you are coming from, how many dependents you have, and whether you’re applying for the first time, or looking to extend or switch your visa whilst currently in the UK.

      Who you’re applying for

      You (if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia)
      All dependants

      Apply (outside the UK)

      £1,021 each person

      Extend or switch (in the UK)

      £1,277 each person

      When Should you Apply for your Visa?

      At the earliest, you can apply for an Innovator Visa 3 months before you travel. Once you apply you should get a decision within 3 weeks.

      How long can you stay?

      Innovator visas allow you to stay in the UK for three years if you either enter the UK on an Innovator visa or switch to an Innovator visa from another visa.

      Once your visa is done, you can apply to extend your visa for another three years ( there are no limits on how many times you can extend), or you can apply for settlement which gives you an indefinite leave to remain.

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      on what you can do.

      Innovator Visas come with specific limitations on certain activities that can and can not be done if you are in the UK on an Innovator Visa.

      You can:

      • Set up a business or several businessesSet up a business or several businesses

      • Work for your business – this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership

      • Bring family members with you

      You cannot:

      • Work for any business outside of the business outlined in the Innovator Visa

      • Work as a doctor or dentist in training

      • Work as a professional sportsperson, for example, a sports coach

      • Get access to public funds

      Why work with a solicitor on your visa application?

      Potential business innovators looking to enter the UK can face several problems when they’re looking to enter the UK. Building the business plan, getting an endorsement letter, and handling the admin of the application can be an overwhelming prospect due to the complexity involved.

      Our team of expert immigration solicitors is at hand to help you ensure that your innovator visa application process is as smooth as possible. We offer specialist advice on every stage of the Innovator visa process.

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      Osbourne Pinner

      As experts in immigration law, we have a strong track record in achieving successful applications for Innovator applicants. Our solicitors have helped hundreds of students apply for the application process so we’re able to guide you through the process one step at a time and ensure that everything is done correctly with no delays at all in your student visa application.

      We also offer a highly personal service that’s tailored to meet your requirements. We start every case with a consultation so can get to know you, your case, and your requirements. This allows us to work out what areas you may need extra assistance in and allows us to offer help when it’s needed.

      As we’re based in London, we’re in a strong position to help clients across the whole world, so you can rest easy knowing that whenever you’re coming from, whatever course you’re looking to complete we’ll be able to provide you an expert level of care and support like no other solicitor can.


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