USA and the UK
UK Innovator Visa
The UK Innovator Visa is for experienced businesspeople who wish to set up a business in the UK. This immigration permission replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, which ended on 29th March 2019.
You must have at least £50,000 to invest and the applicant’s business idea must be endorsed by an approved body. There are a number of other requirements which you will need to fulfil, which are explained in greater detail on this page.
At IAS, our immigration lawyers are experienced in UK business law, and have already helped many applicants get their Innovator Visa. If you to find out more about our services for international, ambitious businesspeople, you can get in touch with our team.
UK Innovator Visa Eligibility
The main eligibility criteria for the Innovator Visa is as follows:
- Must be aged 18 or over
- Must have at least £50,000 to invest
- Must be able to demonstrate that the investment money will be acquired through genuine and legitimate means
- Business idea must have been assessed and endorsed by an approving body and intend to set up or run the business in the UK
- Must be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself whilst you are in the UK. You will need to demonstrate that you have had at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply for the Innovator Visa OR switch to the Innovator Visa if you have been in the UK for less than a year
It is important to note that for the personal savings requirement, you cannot use money from your investment funds.
How Can I Get my Business Idea Endorsed?
To have your business idea endorsed, there are a few conditions which must be met.
You must be able to show that your business idea is:
- New. You cannot join a business that is already trading
- Innovative. You must have an original business idea which is distinct from anything else currently on the market
- Viable. Must have the potential for growth
Under certain circumstances, you will not need to prove where you got your investment funding from. If your business is already established in the UK and has previously been endorsed for a visa or if you have changed your business and already agreed it with your endorsing body.
However, these exemptions will not apply to you if you are living in the United States and haven’t already been granted with a UK Visa.
Required Documents for UK Innovator Visa
Before you complete the Innovator Visa application, it is highly recommended that you prepare your portfolio of evidence with all your required documentation.
One of the key documents which you must supply in your portfolio of evidence is the endorsement letter which shows that an endorsing body has assessed your business or business idea. Without this letter, you will not be eligible to apply for the Innovator Visa.
The other documents which you will need to provide are:
- A valid passport or other document which shows your identity and nationality
- Evidence of your investment funds
- Bank statements which show that you have at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply
Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator. You will need to include both the translated documents and the originals in your portfolio of evidence.
Our UK immigration lawyers are highly experienced in UK visa applications for international entrepreneurs. We can help you to formulate your application to the very highest standards, maximising your chances of success.
We will take the time to understand your circumstances and offer invaluable guidance on the documents which you will need to include in your portfolio of evidence. We will also complete all the application form and submit your full application to the UKVI.
To find out more about how we can help you to start your business in the UK, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on +1 844 290 6312.
UK Innovator Visa Application Process
You must apply online for the Innovator Visa. Currently, the cost of an Innovator Visa is £1,201.
During the application stage, you will be notified of where you will need to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo). Typically, this will be taken at your nearest application center in America.
If your application is approved, you will need to collect your biometric residence permit within ten days of the date you intend to travel to the UK, even if you actually arrive later than this date.
As well as the standard application fee, there are other fees to keep in mind. The biometric residence permit comes at a cost of £19.20 and you will also need to take into account the cost of professional translation fees (if applicable).
Anyone living in the UK under an Innovator Visa must also pay the immigration health surcharge. For Innovator Visa holders, this is currently £624 per year.
In most cases, you will receive a decision on the Innovator Visa within three weeks, although the Home Office advise that it may take up to twelve weeks.
The application process may take longer if:
- Your supporting documents need verifying
- You need to attend an interview
- You have a criminal conviction
- You are applying with a family member who requires an interview
Also, if any dependants will be joining you in the UK, they will each need to pay the full application fee. (More on this below).
Can my Family Join me in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?
Yes, it is possible for direct family members to join the Innovator Visa applicant in the UK on the basis of their relationship to them. They will be known as your dependent family members.
Each family member will need to complete an application form and pay the full fee of £1,201. They should also receive a decision within three weeks of the date the application was received by UKVI.
A dependent partner or child can be any of the following:
- Your spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner of at least two years
- Your child who is under 18-years-old. This includes if your children was born after you arrived in the UK
- Your child who is over 18-years-old if they are already in the UK as your dependent
Your dependents must have certain financial means to support themselves whilst they are in the UK.
You, or your partner or child will need:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
You need to demonstrate that this money was in your bank account or your dependent’s bank account for at least 28 days prior to the application.
How Long Can I Stay in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?
You can stay in the UK for up to three years under an Innovator Visa. You can also extend the visa for a further three years before your original visa expires, provided your circumstances haven’t changed significantly and you still meet the eligibility criteria.
You can extend the Innovator Visa indefinitely. Typically, it takes up to eight weeks for a UK Innovator Visa extension application to be processed.
It is important to note that if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body, your visa will usually be withdrawn.
When Can I Apply for UK Settlement?
In most cases, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after you have spent three years living in the UK under an Innovator Visa. This is provided you haven’t spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period during the qualifying period.
Indefinite Leave to Remain is a form of permanent residence. This means that you can stay in the UK without any restrictions as a holder of Indefinite Leave to Remain.
After you have spent at least 12 months living in the UK under ILR, you will be eligible for British citizenship by naturalization.
You are under no obligation to renounce your American citizenship if you choose to apply for British citizenship. Instead, you could become a dual citizen.
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With a UK Innovator Visa, you are permitted to do the following:
- Bring your partner and children with you to the UK as dependants
- Set up a business (or several businesses)
- Work for your business/es, including as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership
- Travel abroad and return to the UK. Bear in mind that in most cases, you cannot leave the UK for more than 180 days in a 12-month period
There are some restrictions for those who hold a UK Innovator Visa.
- Do any work outside of your business. For example, work where you were employed by another business
- Work as a doctor or dentist in training
- Work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
- Apply for state benefits
Yes, it is possible to extend the UK Innovator Visa. The Innovator Visa is valid for three years and you can apply for an extension before your original visa expires. It can be extended as many times as is needed.
If you apply for the extension in the UK, the fee is £1,277. It takes up to eight weeks for a UK Innovator Visa extension to be processed.
It costs £1,021 to apply for an Innovator Visa. In addition, if you are applying with your family members, you must pay an additional fee of £1,021 for each dependent in your household.
It must be noted that applicants are required to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application.
If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa may be cut short. Nevertheless, if you wish to remain in the UK, you can re-apply for a new endorsement before your current Innovator Visa expires.