What is an Innovator visa?
As of 29 March 2019, the Innovator visa replaced the popular Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. The Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs looking to set up and establish a business in the United Kingdom. Applicants must show that their business is credible and viable and it must be endorsed by a respected and approved endorsing body (see below). The Innovator visa for experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business presence in the United Kingdom.
What are the key differences between the new Innovator visa and the former Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa?
Unlike the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, Applicants who wish to apply for the Innovator Visa will no longer be required to invest at least £200,000 in their proposed business. The Home Office has introduced a significant change helping potential entrepreneurs by reducing the initial investment amount from £200,000 to £50,000 for new Applicants. The funding can come from any source and Applicants will not need any investment if their business is already established and has been endorsements for an earlier visa. The funds must be held for a consecutive 90 day period with the last statement dated within 1 month from the date of submission. Paragraph INN 12.1 of the Immigration Rules confirms that there will be an English language requirement of B2.
The Home Office will no longer carry out the Genuine Entrepreneur Test but this task will be delegated to the relevant endorsement body. This should make the actual visa application process straightforward. The main difference is the introduction of the “endorsement requirement” by a relevant business sponsor.
How do I get a UK Innovator visa?
As mentioned above, the Tier 1 Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs/business people who wish to set up and establish a business presence in the United Kingdom. The following requirements must be met:
- Applicants must have a credible business idea;
- Applicants must have at least £50,000 in cash to invest in their proposed business idea;
- Applicants must meet the English language requirement (Level B2) in accordance with Paragraph INN 12.1 of the Immigration Rules;
- Applicants must meet the maintenance requirement of £945 and the hold the funds for 90 consecutive days; and
- Applicants must receive a suitable endorsement (see below).
The endorsement must be from an appropriate body which is expected to include some higher education institutions which meet the requirements. The endorsement bodies must have a proven track record of supporting entrepreneurs that are approved by the Home Office. A business plan will be required when applying for the endorsement. Applicants must meet the innovation, viability and scalability requirement to receive an endorsement.
Innovation – Applicants must demonstrate that their business idea is genuine and original. The business idea can be for a tangible product-based business or a service-related business.
Viability – Applicants must demonstrate that their business is practical and credible. Applicants would be required to show that they have the expertise or specialist knowledge of their chosen business field to enable the business to success. Applicants must prepare and submit a well-drafted business plan to show that the business has a clear vision and all the relevant considerations such as start-up costs, target market, market segmentation and competition have been taken into consideration. The business plan should also show the projected cash flow forecast for the first 3 years for the business. Information on other relevant factors such as strengths and weakness of the business and the impact of future growth/decline of the business sector they wish to operate in.
Scalability – Applicants must show that their business idea will benefit the economy in the United Kingdom and the business will contribute to job creation and growth into relevant markets.
Home Office fee for Innovator visa – The Home Office application fee remains the same as the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa £1021 (entry clearance) and £1277 (switch in-country). IHS is currently £624 per year.
Applying for an Innovator visa as a team of 2 or more
Similar to the former Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, it is possible for a team of 2 or more individuals to apply together for a Tier 1 Innovator visa for the same business. Applicants do not need to be the sole founders of the business in question as long as the founder is also applying for the visa at the same time. Applications submitted on the basis of an innovator team require extra legal submissions, as it is important to clarify what each Applicant will bring to the business. Each Applicant must obtain an endorsement in their own right, as endorsements cannot be shared. In addition to this, each Applicant must show that they have at least £50,000 available to invest in the business i.e. if there is a team of three innovators each must have £50,000 totaling to £150,000.
Can you switch to the Innovator visa?
The simple answer is yes. This is the most frequent question asked by our new or existing clients. However, it should be noted that you can only switch into an Innovator visa if were last granted valid leave on any of the following:
- Start-up migrant;
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant;
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant;
- Skilled Worker migrant; or
- A visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur.
If you were not last granted leave in any of the above you will need to apply for entry clearance from your home country or any other country where you have valid immigration status.
Will there be settlement (indefinite leave to remain) options under the Innovator visa?
Similar to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa there will be a settlement (indefinite leave to remain) option for Applicants. There is a fast-tracked settlement route for Innovators who are able to meet the following requirements (at least two must be met):
- Applicants must have invested at least £50,000 in their business;
- The business must have created at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers;
- The business must have created 5 full-time jobs for resident workers with a minimum salary of £25,000;
- The business must have generated gross revenue of at least £1 million;
- The business must show that there has been an increase in the number of business customers;
- The business has contributed to valuable research and development and has applied for intellectual property protection in the United Kingdom; or
- The business is generating a minimum of £500,000 with £100,000 from exporting overseas.
Using our Immigration Solicitors in London to submit a successful Innovator Visa application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with an application to apply for an Innovator Visa. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications, which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your UK Innovator application succeeds, our solicitors and barristers will ensure all specified documents must be provided.
The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful Innovator Visa applications with our Immigration Solicitors in London
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a UK Innovator Visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of an Innovator Visa application and ensure that you get all the necessary points under the Points Based System.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss an Innovator Visa application.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.