What is an Innovator Visa?

An Innovator Visa is a type of UK visa for people who are interested in UK immigration and are seeking to establish an innovative business in the country. Making a UK business investment through a British Innovator Visa is, therefore, one of the ways to achieve legal UK immigration.

Who is eligible for Innovator Visa?

In order to be eligible for UK Innovator Visa, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age.
  • Not be from Switzerland or the European Economic Area (EEA).
  • Demonstrate your capability to financially support yourself throughout your stay. This means that before you apply, you must have in your bank account, at minimum, £1,270 for 28 days in a row (This money cannot be obtained through either legal work in the UK or via investment funds).
  • Have your business or business concept assessed by an official body.
  • Be in possession of a minimum £50,000 in investment funds. This requirement does not apply to the following:
    • Your business was previously established and previously endorsed on a previous visa.
    • Your business has been changed and the body, that endorsed it, approved it for a UK Innovator Visa.
  • Meet the English language requirement.

Length of Stay with Innovator Visa

  • Those on an Innovator Visa can stay up to three years in the country, even if they switch to a UK Innovator Visa from a different visa.
  • After three years on a UK Innovator Visa, you may be eligible for the following options:
    • If your UK Innovator Visa is about to expire, you can apply for a 3-year extension (you can apply for an extension to your UK Innovator Visa as many times as you want).
    • If, after 3 years, you wish to indefinitely remain in the country, you have the option of applying for settlement in the UK. This process is officially called “Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)”.
    • Please note that in the event that your endorsement is withdrawn, the time on your visa could be reduced, unless you re-apply for a new endorsement.

How long does it take to get an Innovator Visa?

It takes around three weeks to be approved (or denied) for an Innovator Visa UK. For information about receiving an expediated Innovator Visa UK, contact us here.

When can you apply for an Innovator Visa?

Applications for an Innovator Visa UK should be lodged no earlier than three months before your date of intended travel to the country.

UK Innovator Visa Fees

A number of factors determine your fee for an Innovator Visa UK, including whether you are applying from within the UK or outside of it, and other particulars about your application.

  • Basic fees for the Innovator Visa UK:
    • If you are applying from outside the UK: £1,021
    • If you are applying from inside the UK, to extend or switch £1,277
    • If you are a Macedonian or Turkish national applying from outside the UK: £966
    • If you are a Macedonian or Turkish national applying from inside the UK, to extend or switch: £1,277
    • Dependents, who are applying from outside the UK: £1,021 per person
    • Dependents, who are applying from inside the UK, to extend or switch: £1,277 per person
  • Additional fees for Innovator Visa UK:
    • In addition to the basic fees for Innovator visa UK, those who are applying to either extend or switch in the UK will be subject to a £19.20 fee for the collection of their biometric information, which includes a photo as well as fingerprint collection
    • Those applying for an Innovator Visa will also be subject to the Healthcare surcharge. Contact us for more information on healthcare surcharge fees for the Innovator Visa UK.
    • There is also a fee for an expeditated Innovator Visa UK. For more information about receiving a quicker decision on your Innovator Visa UK by paying an expedited fee, contact us here.

Getting your business endorsed

One of the steps to getting your Innovator Visa UK is to get your business endorsed. In order to be endorsed, your business (or your concept for a business) must meet the following criteria:

  • Realistic, with the prospect of future expansion. 
  • Newness-your business must be a new business, you may not invest or become part of a business that is already established or trading.
  • Innovative-your business (or business concept) must be original and different from that which currently exists in the UK business marketplace.
  • For more information about getting endorsed for UK Innovator Visa, and for a full list of endorsing bodies, click here.

UK Innovator Visa Immigration Terms

  • The rules for the Innovator Visa UK are outlined below. Those who are on an Innovator Visa UK are allowed to do the following:
    • Have family members (dependents) join you in the UK. For more information on how to include family members on an Innovator Visa, click here.
    • Establish a business (or businesses).
    • Be an employee for the business you establish, in the capacity of either a self-employed worker in a business partnership, or as a director. 
  • Those who are on UK Innovator Visa are NOT allowed to do the following:
    • Receive public funds.
    • Work for another business entity other than your established business. 
    • Be employed as either a dentist or a doctor.
    • Be employed as a professional athlete or as an athletics coach.

Required Documents for UK Innovator Visa

The below documents are required for those on a British Innovator Visa: All documents not written in either English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please note that you may be asked to submit additional supporting documents for UK Innovator Visa Immigration.

  • An endorsement letter demonstrating proof of assessment of your business/business concept.
  • A valid passport or other valid official ID, with one blank page for your British Innovator Visa.
  • Proof that your bank account holds at least £1,270 and has held it for at least 28 days in a row.

The following may also be required for an Innovator Visa UK:

  • Proof of investment funds (if establishing an original business).
  • Tuberculosis test results (if from a country where a TB test is required).
  • Proof of English language competency.

Innovator Visa requires English language knowledge for UK immigration

  • Applicants who are not from the United States, Canada, or one of the following countries will need to provide evidence of having achieved a degree of English language fluency:
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • the Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • St Kitts and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The English requirement can be satisfied in one of two ways:
    • Taking an approved English language test and receiving (at minimum) a CEFR level B2 grade in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
    • Possessing an academic degree from an English-language university or college that is considered by UK NARIC to be equal to a UK bachelor’s, master’s degree, or PhD.
  • Those who have already satisfied the English language requirement on a previous successful UK Innovator Visa application do not need to again fulfill this requirement.

How to apply for UK Innovator Visa

  1. Apply by contacting us for your UK Innovative Visa to help you with the online application.
  2. Go to a visa application center to have your biometric information taken. This is where you will have your fingerprints collected and your photo taken.
  3. Pick up your biometric residence permit within 10 days of the date you gave as your arrival to the UK, even if your arrival is in fact later than the day you first provided.
  • Please note that there are further specific instructions to those applying from North Korea.

How to extend the UK Innovator Visa

  • If you meet the following requirements you are eligible to extend:
    • You satisfy the original eligibility conditions.
    • You are working on your original business in the UK and/or want to establish a new venture.
    • Your business or business concept is assessed by an official body during the extension process.
    • You can pay £50,000 to start a new business. This does not apply if:
      • Your business was previously established and previously endorsed on a previous visa
      • Your business has been changed and the body that endorsed it approved of that change
  • How to extend (if applying from within the UK):
    • Apply before your visa has expired.
    • Incorporate any dependents who were on your original visa, especially those who became adults (turned 18) while on your visa.
    • Apply by contacting us to help you with the online application process.
    • Attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, where you will:
      • Supply the required fingerprints and photos (biometric information).
      • Supply the required/supplemental documents (either in person at your appointment or by uploading them online).
    • Remain inside the UK (including the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and Ireland) while you await the decision on your extension. Those who travel outside of the UK while their application for an extension is pending will have their application withdrawn.
  • How to extend (if applying from outside the UK):
    • Apply by contacting us to help you with the online application process.
  • Processing time for Innovator Visa extensions
    • The British Innovator Visa extension processing time is generally 8 weeks, although it can take longer depending on the following:
      • You are called to appear at an in-person interview.
      • Your application materials require additional verification.
      • You have been arrested or are facing other relevant personal issues.
      • Please note so long as your application was submitted prior to the expiration of your previous visa, you may remain in the UK while your application is being processed.

Switch to an Innovator Visa

  • In addition to meeting the original eligibility requirements for Innovator Visas, those who are currently in the UK on one of the following visas are eligible to switch to an Innovator Visa: 
    • Start-up Visa.
    • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa.
    • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa.
    • Tier 2 Visa (any).
    • Standard Visitor Visa – if you arrived in the UK to receive funding and obtained a supporting letter from an endorsing body.
    • Please note, if you are not on one of the above UK Immigration visas, you cannot simply “switch” to an Innovator Visa and must instead leave the UK and re-apply from outside the country.
  • How to apply for a visa switch (if applying from within the UK):
    • Apply before your visa has expired.
    • Apply to switch your visa to an Innovator Visa online, contact us here to help you applying.
    • Attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, where you will:
      • Supply the required fingerprints and photos (biometric information).
      • Supply the required/supplemental documents (either in person at your  appointment or by uploading them online).
    • Remain inside the UK (including the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and Ireland) while you await the decision on your switch. Those who travel outside of the UK while their application for a switch is pending will have their application cancelled.
  • Processing time for switching visas
    • The processing time for switching to an Innovator Visa UK is generally 8 weeks, although it can take longer depending on the following:
      • You are called to appear at an in-person interview.
      • Your application materials require additional verification.
      • You have been arrested or are facing other relevant personal issues.
    • Please note so long as your application was submitted prior to the expiration of your previous visa, you may remain in the UK while your application is being processed.

Family members of UK Investor Visa holder

Family members can join you on your Innovator Visa UK and your trip to the country, however they will each need a visa unless they are from either Switzerland or the European Economic Area (EEA).

  • Family members are classified as dependents, which can be:
    • Your partner.
    • Your child:
      • Under 18 years old.
      • Over 18 years old, but only if they are already a dependent in the UK.
Family finances
  • You must demonstrate your ability to support your dependents throughout their stay in the UK, through the following:
    • Providing proof that you have at least: £285 for your partner, £315 for your first child, and £200 per each additional child.
    • It is not enough to have this money in your bank account. You must also establish that your bank account (or that of your dependent) has held these funds for a minimum of 28 days prior to any visa application being lodged.
    • Please note, dependent funds are in addition to the £1,270 you must possess in order to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself throughout your stay.
    • For example, if you are trying to bring three family members with you to the UK on your Innovator Visa (your wife and two children) you must demonstrate your possession of funds in the amount of: £2,070 (at a cost of £285 for your partner, £315 for the first child, and £200 for the second child, plus £1,270 for you).
  • How to apply as a dependent of someone on an Innovative Visa UK (if applying from outside the UK):
    • Apply by contacting us to help you with the online application process.
    • Go to a visa application center to have your biometric information taken. This is where you will have your fingerprints collected and your photo taken for UK immigration purposes.
    • Pick up your biometric residence permit within 10 days of the date you gave as your arrival to the UK, even if your arrival is in fact later than the day you first provided.
    • Please note that the option of applying as a dependent of someone on an Innovator Visa from outside of the UK is only available to dependents over the age of 18.
    • The online option is closed to dependents applying for an Innovator Visa UK from North Korea. If you are applying as a dependent from North Korea, you must apply by downloading application form and following its written in instructions, contact us for more details. Please note that each dependent from the NK must fill out a separate application.
  • How to apply as a dependent (if applying from within the UK)
    • If you are under 18 and already in the UK as a dependent, you have the option of either extending your visa or switching it.
    • All applications must be made online, whether applying as a dependent partner or as a dependent child.
    • Would-be dependents must remain inside the UK (including the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and Ireland) while they await the decision on their extension. Those who travel outside of the UK while their application for an extension is pending will have their application cancelled.
    • Please note that would-be dependents cannot apply from the UK as such if they are in the country on a visitor’s visa.
  • Processing time for dependent applications
    • The processing time for dependents seeking to get on an Innovator Visa UK is generally 8 weeks, although it can take longer depending on although it can take longer depending on the following:
      • You are called to appear at an in-person interview.
      • Your application materials require additional verification.
      • You have been arrested or are facing other relevant personal issues.
    • Expediated service is available at an additional cost of £800. The timeline for expediated service is as follows:
      • If applicant’s UKVCAS appointment is on a weekday, he or she will receive a decision the day after the applicant attends the appointment.
      •  If the applicant’s UKVCAS appointment is on a weekend, he or she will receive a decision two working days after the appointment.

UK Innovator Visa Advantages

The multiple advantages to receiving this kind of business visa for the UK are revealed above. For information about additional UK business visas that offer immigration similar to UK Innovator Visa Immigration, click here.

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