UK Innovator Visa replaced the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category. In comparison to its predecessor, Innovator visa focuses on experienced business people who are looking to establish their own business in UK. For this applicants needs to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that must be supported by an endorsing body. Endorsing bodies of UK includes: business acceleration institution, seed competitions and government agencies also higher education providers.
What is the process to apply for UK Innovator Visa?
In addition to having the minimum funding of £50,000 to invest in the business, following are the points for applying for Innovator visa:
- Innovator visa is for experienced business people
- Funding requirement will be waived for the applicants who are switching from start-up visa and have made significant achievements in their business.
- Initial assessment for the endorsement will be based on expert assessments whether the business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.
- For extension assessment, endorsement will be based on assessment whether applicant has made significant achievements against the business plan and the business is trading.
- For applicant whose original idea did not work out initially, can re-apply, with a new business idea, to be considered for endorsement under criteria for initial applications.
- This category can lead to the settlement in the country – UK. After completing at least two of these criteria (innovative, viable and scalable), provided they have spent last three years in the category
- Endorsements will be made based on criteria – covering investment, innovation, business growth and job creation – which applicant may choose from in order to qualify for settlement.
What are the requirements for UK innovator visa?
Applicant needs to be minimum of 18 years of age. For credibility assessment following are the requirements by UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration):
- Genuine intention to undertake, and to be capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK
- Applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions
- Fund which applicant claims to be available must be genuinely available as described, and must be used for the purposes described in the application
UKVI can also ask the applicant to attend an interview or can be asked to provide some additional information and evidence
For the endorsement letter that will be issued by the endorsing body, it will have to be containing the following information:
- Name of the endorsing body
- Endorsement reference number
- Date of issue, must not be earlier than 3 months before the application date
- Applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport number
- Short description of applicant’s business venture and the main products and services
- Confirmation for the applicant’s business venture meeting the endorsement criteria
- Name and contact details of the individual that will act as the representative of the endorsing body in case Home office requires to verify the content of the letter
Now the endorsement letter must be able to confirm the both the following features:
- Applicant’s business venture must be able to meet the three endorsement requirements:
Innovation: Applicant has a genuine, original business plan that is able to meet new or existing needs in the market
Viability: Applicant has, or is actively developing skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness that will help in successfully running the business
Scalability: Structured plan and potential for creating jobs and growth in national markets
- Endorsing body must be satisfied that applicant will be spending the majority of its time in the country on developing their business venture.
For the required maintenance funds, applicant will need to show £945 for consecutive 90 days that must not end before 31 days of application. In case the applicant is able to provide a letter from the endorsing body that confirms that they have been provided with at least £945, then the applicants do not need to provide with the maintenance funds.
Applicant needs to have good knowledge of English language that will allow them to communicate with variety of business organizations and potential customers. For this applicant can do the following:
- Being a national of English majority country
- Pass an English language test equivalent to level B2 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework
- Hold a degree taught in English and Equivalent to UK bachelor’s degree or above
What are the additional requirements for settlement application under UK Innovator visa?
Following are the requirements for the applicant to apply for settlement under this category:
- Applicant have to spend continuous 3 years in the UK, with their last leave being in the innovator category in able to be qualify for settlement
- Applicant will be needing an endorsement letter that confirms both the following:
Applicant meets all the ‘same business’ endorsement criteria:
- Significant achievements that is judged against business plan that was assessed in the previous endorsement
- Registration with Companies House
- Business have to be active and trading
- Business needs to be sustainable for minimum of following 12 months
- Applicant plays active key role in day-to-day management and development of the business
Applicant ventures meets at least two of following requirements:
- Minimum £50,000 been invested into business and has been actively spent
- Number of customers has to be doubled within most recent 3 years
- Business engaged in significant research and development activity
- Business has generated minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in last full year
- Business has created at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers
Applicants, who are looking to switch to this category (Innovator Visa), can switch if they already hold leave to remain in UK in one of the following categories:
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
- Tier 2 (Entrepreneur)
- Tier 2
- Visitor has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur