Innovator Visas: The Basics
The Innovator visa category is aimed at anyone who wants to set up or run a business in the UK and is from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
It replaced the Entrepreneur visa, which is now closed for new business applicants from 29th March 2019. However, people who are still in the UK on a Entrepreneur visa still have the right to stay. Additionally, anyone on a Graduate Entrepreneur visa (now replaced by the Start-up visa) can still apply for the Entrepreneur visa.
Broadly speaking, the Innovator visa is open to experience business people who want to move to the UK and meet the following requirements:
- You want to set up or run a business in the UK
- You are at least 18 years old
- An endorsement letter confirms available or prior investment of £50,000
- The applicant must pass the credibility assessment
- B2 English language ability is required
- Maintenance funds required for the Main Applicant are £945.
Endorsement for an Innovator visa
To apply for an Innovator visa, you must prove that the you have an endorsement by a relevant sponsor. The relevant endorsement body will assess your business idea and also carry out the credibility assessment so that the Home Office UKVI do not have to assess your credibility at the visa application stage.
However, an organisation can only issue an endorsement if it is on the UKVI list of approved endorsement bodies. Additionally, applicants should only approach endorsement bodies that are relevant to their business idea. An endorsement body might only be interested in businesses relating to the energy sector, for example, so it would cause needless delays if your business isn’t relevant.
What are the endorsement criteria?
Applicants must create a business plan when applying for endorsement from an approved body. You must also provide any relevant supporting documentation to evidence that you satisfy the following innovator route requirements.
- Innovation: The applicant has a genuine and actual business plan.
- Viability: The applicant has skills and market awareness to successfully run the business.
- Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning for job creation and growth into national markets.
Endorsement bodies have a responsibility to inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
(1) The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture
(2) The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria set out in the immigration rules.
It’s worth noting that your application for an Innovator visa may be refused. Alternatively, if your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa could be cut short. In both cases, you would need to reapply with new endorsement.
What can you do with an Innovator visa?
With an Innovator visa, there are a number of things you can and can’t do. If you’re unsure about any of your rights, the team at Osbourne Pinner can help to clear things up. Here’s a brief overview:
- Business – Needless to say, you can set up a business or several businesses
- Work – You can work for your business, including as a director. However, you are restricted from doing any work outside your business, such as being employed by a separate business
- Funding – You won’t have access to any public funds with an Innovator visa
- Family – Dependant family members such as your partner or children are eligible to come to the UK with you through an Innovator visa. A separate application will have to be made for each dependant.
How long does an Innovator visa last?
Successful applicants can stay in the UK for three years on an Innovator visa. It’s also possible to switch to this visa from an existing Start-up visa, which will extend your stay by three years.
You can apply for an Innovator visa as early as three months before you travel – or three months before your existing visa is due to expire. When your visa is due to expire, you can apply to extend for a further three years. There’s also no limit on the amount of times you can extend your Innovator visa.
However, once you have been in the UK for three years, you may be able to apply for settlement. In short, this means you have indefinite leave to remain and won’t need to keep reapplying or extending your visa.
Why Osbourne Pinner
- When it comes to Innovator visas, many applicants face difficulties in understanding the application process or providing the required documentation. That can lead to unnecessary setbacks and complications for you and your family. At Osbourne Pinner, we make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Our team provides unsurpassed immigration services in an exceptionally professional and efficient manner. Every step of the way, we’ll give you all the support and guidance you need to deal with your immigration matter successfully.
- That’s complemented by a truly personal approach with same day services where required. Your case will be handled by a professional immigration solicitor with years of experience in Innovator and Entrepreneur visas.
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