Innovator Visa

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The Innovator Visa

With the abolition of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa in  2018, the new innovator visa is intended to help experienced overseas entrepreneurs set up their business in the UK. Applicants will need to obtain an endorsement  of their proposed business from approved bodies before they can apply for the visa. 

Approved applicants will have; 

  • an innovative, viable and scalable business idea supported by an endorsing body with at least £50,000 available to invest.

The Immigration Rule’s Appendix W covers the innovator visa. Although there will only be information on the innovator visa on this page, the appendix also covers the Start-up visa for entrepreneur graduates.

Get in touch with us for an initial consultation on 0203 5245439.

What are the Requirements of the Innovator Visa?

To qualify as an innovator the applicant must meet the following:

  • The general requirements in part W3 (entry clearance or leave to remain applications), or
  • The general requirements in part W4 (indefinite leave to remain applications), and
  • One of the specific requirements in part W6 (new business, same business or criteria for indefinite leave to remain applications)

Both sets of requirements must be met in order to be granted leave to remain.

General Requirements for Entry Clearance or Leave to Remain Applications – part W3

You must:

  • have provided all of the specified evidence
  • be over 18
  • be eligible to switch to the innovator visa
  • not be in breach of UK immigration laws, except under the exceptions for overstaying in paragraph 39E in part 1 of the Immigration Rules apply
  • not fall under the general grounds of refusal

The decision-maker must believe all of the following:

  • Must genuinely be intending to undertake and are capable of undertaking any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application
  • Must not intend to work in the UK in breach of your visa conditions
  • Any money claimed to be available is genuinely available and that is intended to use it for the purposes described in the application

The decision-maker will also consider any of your endorsements and may consider any or all of the following:

  • The credibility of evidence given
  • Your previous educational, work and immigration history
  • Declarations made to other governmental departments regarding your previous employment and activity in the UK
  • Any other relevant information

You may be asked to attend an interview. Your application may still be considered if you do not go to the interview if you give a reasonable explanation for your absence.

Other requirements include:

  • Knowledge of the English language – either by being a national of a majority English speaking country, by having a degree taught in English, by passing a Secure English Language test or by having met the language requirement in an older successful application.
  • Maintenance – £945 held for 90 consecutive days in cash form in an approved financial institution. Foreign currencies will be converted to GBP using the exchange rate on on the date of the application.

Requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain Applications – part W4

You must:

  • have provided all specified evidence for indefinite leave to remain
  • have knowledge of the English language and life in the UK
  • not be in breach of UK immigration laws (except under the exceptions in 39E part 1 of the Immigration Rules)
  • not fall under the general grounds of refusal
  • have lawful continuous residence for 3 years in the UK and your most recent grant of leave must have been in the worker category
  • not have spent more than 180 days during any consecutive 12 months outside the UK.

Specific Requirements for the Innovator Visa Application – part W6

You can be endorsed under either the ‘new business’ or ‘same business’ category depending on whether it is an:

  • initial application (new business)
  • extension application with a different business venture (new business)
  • extension application with the same business venture (same business).

New Business Endorsement – part W6

  • Endorsement – you must be endorsed by an approved endorsing body. The body must confirm the business is innovative, viable and scalable.
  • To prove this endorsement – you must have an endorsement letter which includes information about you, your business and confirmation that you meet the requirements. The letter must also have contact information for the body.
  • Investment funding the endorsing body must confirm £50,000 is available to you to invest or that it has already been invested. If they do not confirm that you have all of the money then you must show that you have the rest.

Same Business Endorsement – part W6

Endorsement – you must be endorsed in this category by an approved endorsing body. They must confirm:

  • you have made significant achievements,
  • that your business is registered with Companies House and you are listed as a Director,
  • that your business is active and trading along with details of your role in the business.

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Innovator Visa – part W6

You can apply to settle in the UK under the Innovator visa if the endorsement letter confirms both of the following:

  • You meet the ‘same business’ criteria outlined above,
  • Your business venture meets at least any two of the following:

– At least £50,000 has been invested and was spent pursuing the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement

– If the number of  customers has at least doubled in the latest 3 years and is  higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering similar products/services

– The business has conducted considerable research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK

– A minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last year covered by its accounts has been generated

– The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last year covered by its accounts with a minimum of £100,000 from exporting overseas

– Your business has created the equivalent of a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for resident workers

– Your business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers of an average gross salary of at least £25,000 a year.

You can combine any two of the above; however, you cannot rely on the same criterion more than once.

How Do the Rules Differ from the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa?

The Investment Amount

You are required to have access to only a minimum of £50,000 as opposed to having access to £50,000 or £200,000 on the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. This is perhaps one of the most significant changes that has been made.

Assessment of Entrepreneurship

Endorsing bodies with a track record of supporting entrepreneurs will objectively assess and endorse prospective applicants. They will assess your business proposal against the rules as well as your skills and experience to handle the business.

The Home Office was previously in charge of all business credibility assessments under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa’s genuine entrepreneur test, which was often critiqued.

How Can NA Law Solicitors Help with your Innovator Visa Application?

As immigration law specialists, NA Law will guide you from the start and answer any questions you may have about your eligibility. Here, you will be provided with a tailored, cost-effective service with your best interests in mind. We will also communicate with endorsing bodies to secure you an endorsement if you do not already have one. Contact us today.

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