Innovator Visa: What It Takes to Bring a Business to The UK

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Are you looking to start a business and bring your ideas to the UK?

The UK Home Office’s Innovator Visa Scheme offers a route for entrepreneurs to do just that. This article will discuss in detail what you need to know to apply for the Innovator Visa.

What does the Innovator Visa do for entrepreneurs?

The Innovator Visa allows experienced entrepreneurs to live in the UK to work on their new and innovative business ideas. The UK seeks innovation for its business landscape and people with the skills to strengthen the economy with their work.

The Innovator Visa Scheme allows you to:

  • Set up and work on a business in the UK for 3 years
  • Live in the UK so long as you work on your business
  • Travel from the UK and return
  • Apply for permanent residency

After the 3 years, if you wish to continue having your business undergo a strategic growth plannning in the UK but aren’t ready for permanent residency then you can reapply for the visa. This is a renewable visa and a route to indefinite leave to remain, so offers you flexibility in the future of your life in the UK.

With the Innovator Visa, an entrepreneur can bring their dependants to the UK. They will need their own application but it will be linked to and supported by the principal applicant of the visa.

Your dependants will need to prove their relationship to you and dependant status. For your partner, you’ll need to prove that you’re in either a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK or that you’ve been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years.

How to qualify for an Innovator Visa?

  • Your business must meet the three eligibility criteria (see below)
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be able to read, write, and speak English, and may need to prove this ability
  • You must have the backing of an Endorsing Body

The three criteria

  • Innovative: your business must be new to the UK (you can’t join an existing one). It can’t be the same as any company already operating in the country, and has to bring a new value with it.
  • Scalable: your business needs to have growth potential. One of the most important parts of this is it needs to create jobs. It can’t be just you working alone to qualify.
  • Viable: you will have to show that both you and your business have what it takes to thrive in the UK for your full visa term.

What are the financial requirements to qualify for the Innovator Visa?

  • You need at least £50000 in investment funds secured for the business, and must be able show proof of this investment
  • This money is individual and can’t be shared between founders. If you share a visa application with another person you would need £100000 in investment funds and so on.
  • You must have £1278 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before applying or reapplying to prove financial stability. This can’t be part of the £50000, and will increase if you bring dependants.

How to apply for the Innovator Visa?

You will have to apply for an Innovator Visa online through the official portal.

You will need to prove your identity by:

  • Getting a biomorphic residency permit — this means getting your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre.
  • Getting your documents scanned by the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app, depending on the country you are from.

What documents you will need:

  • A valid passport or another document that can prove your nationality and identity.
  • A bank statement that confirms you have had £1270 in your bank account for the last 28 days.
  • Proof of your English language competency, if your country requires this.
  • Evidence of your investment fund
  • Tuberculosis test results, if your country requires you to take the test.
  • Letter of endorsement from an endorsing eody.

A certified translator must translate all these documents into English or Welsh if they are not already.

Responses can take around 3 weeks if you live outside the UK and 8 weeks if you’re applying from within the UK. It does carry costs. Please note that the charge to apply for the visa does not include any additional costs such as getting endorsed, translating documents, or the healthcare surcharge.

The Innovator Visa costs £1021 for yourself and an additional £1021 for any family member attached to the principal application. If you’re applying within the UK for a visa extension, then it will cost £1277 for yourself and an additional £1277 for any family member.

To summarise

The UK Innovator Visa is a brilliant opportunity for you to move to the UK and bring a new business with you that will have a great opportunity to thrive. The Home Office wants the best entrepreneurs to come to its country — and that could be you.

Find out more about how to prepare your business, what it takes to meet the criteria, and how to get endorsed with the Startup Visa and Innovator Visa: Application Guide for UK Visas ebook.

Disclaimer: These details were correct at the time of publication. For any updates, see the UK government site for updates.

Author Bio: John Courtney is the Founder and Chief Executive of BoardroomAdvisors.co which provides part-time Executive Directors (Commercial/Operations/Managing Directors), Non-Executive Directors, and paid Mentors to SMEs without either a recruitment fee or a long-term contract.

John is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 7 different businesses over a 40-year period, including a digital marketing agency, corporate finance and management consultancy. He has trained and worked as a strategy consultant, raised funding through Angels, VCs, and crowd funding, and exited businesses via MBO, MBI, and trade sale. He has been ranked #30 in CityAM’s list of UK Entrepreneurs.