Obtaining an Innovator Visa Endorsement

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Innovator Visa Endorsement

Applications for the Innovator visa – a visa route for experienced overseas entrepreneurs seeking to set up a business in the UK – are being sought. 

Successful applicants must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that will need to be endorsed by an approved endorsing body.

Call us now on 0203 5245439 to speak to an immigration expert.

What Will an Endorsing Body Do?

Endorsing bodies include incubators, accelerators, government agencies and business development organisations that have a proven track record of helping start-ups succeed in supporting UK entrepreneurs or can prove a connection to another body with its own track record.

Endorsing bodies will be responsible for issuing endorsements to the applicants by assessing their business venture, staying in touch with the applicant to monitor their progress and issuing further endorsements.

They will not make immigration decisions for the applicant – securing an endorsement does not mean securing a visa. 

To see the current list of endorsing bodies, see our page on ‘Current Endorsing Bodies‘.

The Flexibility of Endorsing Bodies

There is no set way to apply for an endorsement; the procedure varies according to the nature of each individual body. Some endorsing bodies require for the applicant to meet specific requirements, i.e to have completed internal programmes. Not all applicants will be eligible for certain endorsing bodies, even if they work in the same sector.

The bodies set up by the Home Office to endorse Innovator applicants have not been given clear guidance on how to do so. The Home Office, through their guidance, have made it clear that the role of the endorsing bodies will be restricted to assessing the applicant and their business venture. 

The Home Office will not advise endorsing bodies on which sectors/categories to market – this has been left to the bodies. The free reign given to endorsing bodies means that the applicants will be assessed by experienced and knowledgeable experts who will have the ability to determine whether the business venture is innovative, viable and scalable. 

The new innovator route separates the two stages of the visa – endorsement and visa application. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in 2015 suggested that business ventures be objectively assessed by those experienced in the relevant field rather than by the Home Office itself, who are not equipped to judge complex business proposals. 

The Endorsement Letter

Innovator Visa Endorsement Criteria – New Business

This letter should confirm that your business proposal has been assessed against the following:

  • Innovation – do you have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viability – do you, the applicant, have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully carry out the business venture?
  • Scalability – is there evidence of structure planned and potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets?

The letter should confirm that you have the relevant funding of at least £50,000 available to invest in your business. It should also confirm that the endorsing body is satisfied that you will spend your working time in the UK in the business venture relied on in the application.

Innovator Visa Endorsement Criteria – Same Business

The endorsement letter should confirm that your progress in developing your business has been significant:

  • Have you made significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement?
  • Have you registered your business with Companies House and listed yourself as the director or member of that business?
  • Is your business active and trading?
  • Does your business appear to be sustainable for at least the next 12 months based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses?
  • Have you, the applicant, demonstrated an active key role in the daily management and operation of the business?

It should also confirm that the endorsing body is satisfied that you will spend your working time in the UK in the business venture relied on in the application.

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Innovator Visa Endorsement Criteria – Settlement in the UK

The endorsement letter should confirm that your progress in developing your business has been significant and that the business has made quantifiable achievements. The letter should confirm the same points as for the same business and at least 2 of the following:

  • £50,000 minimum has been invested into the business and actively spent
  • The number of customers has doubled in the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products of services
  • The business has engaged in significant research and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK
  • The business has generated a minimum of 1m as annual gross revenue in the last full year
  • The business is generated a minimum of £500,000 as annual gross revenue in the last full year with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas
  • The business has created the equivalent of a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for resident workers
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers with an average gross salary of at least £25,000 a year.

How Can NA Law Solicitors Help you Get an Innovator Visa Endorsement?

NA Law can help you through the entire process, from the first consultation to obtaining an endorsement. As a newly established visa, we understand that a new, overhauled process may not be clear to follow. This may raise questions about your entrepreneurial prospects in the UK. 

We will help you secure an endorsement by liaising with the most appropriate endorsing body to suit your business idea. If there is a body that is not currently an endorsing body but you would like to become one, we will help you with the relevant process to do so.

Contact us today for a case assessment.

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