Launched in April 2019 as a replacement to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, the Innovator visa is considered one of the UK’s high-value visas. The number of approved Innovator visas rose to 321 in 2021, which is steady growth from its 2020 total of 222, showcasing that the popularity of this form of application to enter the UK is increasing.
The visa itself is designed for application by experienced businesspersons looking to establish a new business idea based in the UK. Accepted as a form of visa by the government due to the benefits it brings to UK-founded innovation, it is the ideal application if you have a scalable business idea that is likely to grow well. The UK is known as a hub of thriving business activity, so it really is a great place to launch any new business idea!
At Synergy Immigration Solutions, we are fully behind any form of UK business visa as we think the country has many resources and heritage that can be harnessed to propel new companies into globally operating markets. There are many complexities around the visa and its application process, so it is vital to understand if this is the right option for you. Keep reading to learn more about the Innovator visa in our complete guide.
What Is the UK Innovator Visa?
The number of private UK businesses fell from 5.9 million to 5.6 million in 2021, representing a decline because of economic issues, the pandemic, and Brexit. To maintain the UK’s strong business positioning within various industries, the UK Innovator visa was announced in 2019. Ideal for candidates who are looking to set up and run an innovative company in the UK, the visa is designed to bring new ideas to existing markets.
You may think the number of approved visas is low, but this is relative to the complex requirements that must be met to be approved as a registered Innovator. People can only apply for the visa if their business idea is completely different from anything else that is registered within the UK market. An approved body must also endorse your business or idea that the UK government recognise as a legitimate source.
Other eligibility requirements, as outlined by the government, include the following:
- As with most UK visa applications, your level of written and spoken language must be of a high standard.
- You need to be legally over the age of 18 as this is adult age in the UK, of which people can register businesses etc.
- Just like other visas, such as the skilled worker and global business mobility routes, you must be able to prove that you can financially support yourself during your time in the UK. You will be asked to show that you have had £1270 available in your bank every day for at least 28 days before your application is made.
- Your business must have a minimum of £50,000 of investment funds that have been officially given to it. This is only required if your business is new, as if it is already established or if it has been previously endorsed for a visa, it does not count. If your business is new, you can share these funds with other innovator applicants if you officially form a team on your applications and the total raised is at least £50,000.
Like other forms of UK visas, you can use this visa to support a move to the UK and earn a wage if you plan to pay UK tax. This form of visa can only be used for work that is to do with the business that it has been assigned. You can also set up other companies and expand them as much as you wish, so if you are a forward-thinking business professional who wants to make a change, this is the visa for you!
With an approved Innovator UK visa, you can also:
- Apply to bring your family over as dependents of your visa if their own applications are approved.
- Move around freely within the UK plus enter and exit as much as you wish during your approved period of stay.
If you are one of the lucky few who are eligible for and receive an approved innovator visa, you can stay in the UK for three years. This is plenty of time to find out if your business idea is the flourishing success that you hope it will be and set some other firm roots in the UK so that you are eligible to apply for other forms of visas to extend your stay.
What Does Innovation, Viable & Scalable Mean When Applying for an Innovator Visa?
The UK has been home to some amazing innovators throughout its history. James Dyson, inventor extraordinaire, once said, “We always want to create something new out of nothing, without research, and long hard hours of effort. But there are no such things as a quantum leap”. We think this summarises the UK’s efforts towards business excellence perfectly.
The country may be small, but we sure are mighty in global business, with some big brands coming from within our very own borders. That is why this visa is based upon the core values that each idea must be innovative, viable and scalable.
Innovation: This means there must be a genuine business need and gap in the market for your business idea. The government are looking for ideas that are outside of the box, and that will represent the UK in a positive light. All ideas must also be endorsed; this is essentially the government’s way of understanding if my peers consider the business case a good idea. If your idea meets these needs, your visa should get approved.
Viable: Viability refers to your own abilities in running the business and giving it the market presence, it needs to excel. You could have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t have the means or access to contacts that can help you bring it to life, there is a low chance of it becoming a success. As part of your application, you will need to show your official business plan, which should cover the first three years of trading in line with the approved length of an Innovator visa.
Scalable: The government also wants to see your business idea grow and develop into a company that can provide other benefits to the UK. This includes wider business settlements, employment opportunities and, of course, financial gains. You should also include this within your business plan, which our team can help you with.
Tick these three boxes, and you are well on the way to securing your Innovator visa.
How Do I Apply for an Innovator Visa?
We won’t lie; the application process can be complex, which is why we are on hand to make your Innovator visa application simple!
The first step is meeting with a member of our knowledgeable, immigration law-focused team who will be able to put your application together. As you will need to ensure that legitimacy and viability are evident throughout every section of your evidence, we will advise you on exactly what needs to be sorted out in advance of paying for the application itself.
To apply, you will need the following documents:
- A valid passport or another form of photo ID documentation to confirm who you are.
- The bank statements which show your proof of funds.
- The proof that you meet the English language requirementneeded to operate successfully in the UK.
- Full evidence of your investment funds if you’re starting a new business. This also needs to have the supporting endorsement letter and supporting evidence in the form of your business plan.
Once we have collated the documents, our team will process the application for you and follow it closely to ensure any issues are resolved quickly. Application decisions can take anywhere from three to eight weeks, depending on a few different factors. Still, a general delay to some visa applications may mean that it takes longer to be processed.
What Is the Difference Between an Innovator and a Start-up Visa?
If you have started looking into your options, you have probably also come across the UK start-up visa. Whilst both applications and criteria are very similar, the main difference is that the start-up application is for people who have less business experience. The length of the visa and associated benefits will also differ but the criteria for approval consider the lack of investment and business experience.
If you are unsure of which option is ideal for you, please get in touch with us today.
Are You Ready to Bring Your Unique Innovation to the UK?
As an OISC-registered company, we provide advice that is legally compliant for an affordable price. We work with a range of UK businesses already, so also have extensive industry knowledge that we can bring to your Innovator visa application. To find out more, please call us on 020 315 05359, email email@example.com or fill in our online contact form.
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