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Innovator Visa

What is the U.K innovator visa?

You can apply for the innovator visa if:

  • you want to set up or run a business in the UK. You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you want to set up a new business. You do not need funds if your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.
  • you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body.

What are the requirements?

Before you apply, you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body. They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

You must also:

  • meet the English language requirement. You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
  • be at least 18 years old
  • be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you are in the UK. You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply. You cannot use either of the following to support yourself:
    • money from your investment funds
    • money earned while working in the UK illegally

If you want to set up a new business

You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for an Innovator visa if you want to set up a new business.

Your funding can come from any source. You do not need any investment funds, if your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.

Sharing investment funds

You can form a team with other Innovator applicants, but you cannot share the same investment funds.

Your team must have £50,000 for each Innovator applicant. For example, if you have 2 Innovator applicants, your team must have £100,000 to invest.

How to get endorsement

You must be able to show that your business idea is a new idea – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading. It must be viable, with potential for growth.

There are a number of endorsing bodies and you should only approach ones that are suitable for your business idea.

How long it takes to get a visa

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel. You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

How much is the Home Office fees?

How much you pay for an Innovator visa depends on your situation and where you apply from. If you are applying from outside the UK it will cost £1021, if you are applying outside the UK and are from Turkey or Macedonia it would cost £966 and the cost for all dependants would be £1021 each person.

If you are extending/switching the cost would be £1277 unless you are from Turkey or Macedonia, in which case the cost would be £1222.

You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

If you are applying to extend or switch in the UK, you will need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

How long you can stay

You can stay for 3 years if you:

  • come to the UK on an Innovator visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa

You can apply to extend for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend.

You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you have been in the UK for 5 years.

What happens if your endorsement is withdrawn?

If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.

What can you do in the U.K, if your application is successful?

You can:

  • set 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:

  • do any work outside your business, for example work where you are employed by another business
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • get public funds

Switching to the innovator visa

You may be able to switch to an Innovator visa. If you wish to do so, you should apply before your current visa expires.

You must already be in the UK on one of the following visas in order to switch in the UK:

  • Start-up visa
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • any Tier 2 visa
  • Standard Visitor visa – if you came to the UK to get funding and had a supporting letter from an endorsing body

You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you are here on a different type of visa.

You can stay for 3 years after switching to an Innovator visa. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend your visa.

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