The Innovator Visa to the United Kingdom is a permission for skilled entrepreneurs from abroad to live and run their own business in the United Kingdom. The applicant will need to convince the British authorities that their idea is innovative, viable, and useful to the state economy. One of the main conditions under which foreigners are granted the Innovator Visa is an investment of at least 50,000 GBP into the established commercial enterprise. The issuance of the Innovator Visa allows you to create a solid base for active business activities and gives real prospects of obtaining British citizenship in 5 years.
A foreigner, who has been granted an Innovator’s Visa, may incorporate one or more companies in the United Kingdom. The entrepreneur has the right to work in their company in any position, but they are not allowed to be employed outside their own firm. After 6, 12, and 24 months, representatives of the authorized department inspect the enterprises of the holder of the innovator visa to make sure that they are viable, innovative, and useful to the state economy.
Benefits and opportunities one has with Innovator Visa
- Doing business in a developed country with a stable economy;
- the right to freely cross the borders of Great Britain;
- access to the European market;
- no restrictions on the number of companies established;
- opportunity to apply for relocation permission for spouse, civil partner, children under 18 years old and dependents of any age;
- prospects of permanent residency and citizenship.
The downside of the program is that it requires the applicant to prove that the project is truly innovative and beneficial to the UK economy, which is not easy. Certain difficulties can also be caused by confirming the legality of the investment funds, since every transfer of money to the applicant must be documented in detail and diligently.
The core of the Innovator Visa UK program
Innovator Visa UK has been issued by the British authorities to foreign entrepreneurs since March 29, 2019. Together with the Start-Up Visa, it has replaced the former Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. The new visa was launched in order to bring in talented businessmen, innovative technology and investment to the country and help boost the British economy.
An entrepreneu,r applying for the visa, is required to have investment assets of 50,000 GBP or more, which they are willing to invest in the operation of their enterprise. Applicants, switching to the Innovator Visa from other categories or those, who already have a business in England, are exempt from the mandatory investment. Applicants must have at least 1,270 GBP of their own funds in their account within 28 days before applying for the visa.
Foreigners, applying for an Innovator Visa, are required to pay an application fee for themselves and each family member listed on the application form. The fee is 1,021 GBP per person when applying outside the United Kingdom and increases to 1,277 GBP when applying within the country. Obtaining biometric data in the United Kingdom will cost each applicant 19.2 GBP. And the amount of the medical fee is specified by the foreigner personally during the registration of the application.
After obtaining the UK Innovator Visa, the entrepreneur has the right to live in the country for 3 years and be engaged in commercial activities within the framework of their business. Upon expiration of the Innovator Visa, a foreigner can apply for permanent residence permit or renew their status an unlimited number of times every 3 years. After 5 years of residing in the country, the businessman can apply for British citizenship. Most entrepreneurs, who apply for an Innovator Visa, do so not only to enter the European market and develop their business, but also to obtain a passport of the United Kingdom.
Requirements for participation in the program
Citizens of any country can apply for an Innovator visa. Applicants from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who had lived in the country before December 31, 2020, and who applied to the migration service of the UK, have the opportunity to receive permission for further visa-free stay in the United Kingdom. Residents of Ireland do not need a visa to the UK.
Requirements for applicants
- B2 level of English on the CEFR scale;
- 18 years old or over;
- ability to provide for yourself and your family while living in the UK;
- establishment in or relocation to the UK of an innovative, viable and useful to the national economy business;
- approval from the authorized department of the United Kingdom;
- willingness to invest an amount of 50,000 GBP or more in the company (for those who are registering a new company);
- at least 1,270 GBP in a bank account within 28 days prior to submitting the application;
- legal origin of investment funds;
- the intention to work in the UK solely as part of own business;
- no plans related to professional activities in sports, medicine and dental care, as well as to receive government funding.
- A letter from the authorized department, confirming that the business idea is approved;
- valid international passport;
- a bank statement, showing at least 1,270 GBP in the account within 28 days prior to the date of application;
- a certificate of English proficiency of at least B2;
- proof of investment funds (for applicants incorporating a new business);
- negative tuberculosis test result.
Business idea evaluation criteria
- Innovation – the new business must have an original idea, as well as be in demand and relevant on the market;
- Viability – the candidate should prove that he/she has the resources, skills, knowledge and experience to successfully manage the enterprise;
- Scalability – it is necessary to have a clear plan for the development of the company, which implies an increase in turnover and the creation of new jobs.
How to get an Innovator Visa
Before applying for a pioneer visa, the applicant presents their business idea to the British authorities in order to get their approval. During the visa procedure, the applicant will need to undergo a due diligence check by the country’s immigration office, as well as prove that the investment funds are legally obtained by them.
Obtaining permission to apply for an Innovator visa to the UK
An applicant, planning to open their own business in the UK, should draw up a detailed business plan, describing their future entrepreneurial activity. The applicant should convincingly prove that the idea is original, viable and beneficial for the British economy. After submitting the business plan to the authorized department, the applicant awaits an official response with approval. Applicants, who switch to a new category from the entrepreneur or start-up visa, send a report on the work of the existing company instead of the business plan.
Application for Innovator Visa
After collecting all the necessary documents, the foreigner submits an application online on the website of the UK Immigration Service. As part of the application, foreigners need to confirm their identity, and they can do this at an accredited visa center while they are outside the United Kingdom. Applicants, who are residing in the country, have the opportunity to use the UK Immigration: ID Check application. Each member of the principal applicant’s family should apply for a visa personally.
Passing the check and obtaining a visa
Representatives of the British Immigration Service review the applicant’s candidacy for a visa to England and conduct a due diligence. The authorized persons pay special attention to the applicant’s reputation, as well as the legality of the source from which the investment and subsistence funds are derived. After the screening, the migration officials email the applicant about their decision and if they do not have any comments, the businessman receives the visa.
Visa processing time
As a rule, the application processing takes 3 weeks once the foreigner has submitted the application, confirmed their identity, and provided all the necessary documents. Sometimes, migration officials may need more time, usually when an applicant or a relative needs to be interviewed or in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
Renewal of Innovator Visa
An entrepreneur, who has been granted the Innovator Visa, comes to the UK, registers a company, invests in it and grows their business for three years. There is a supervisor who monitors the company’s compliance with immigration requirements. If the reports of the government representative are favorable, and the businessman pays taxes on time and does not plan to change any further plans, they can apply for an extension of their status for the same period after 3 years. British law allows a foreign entrepreneur to extend the validity of a pioneer visa an unlimited number of times.
Permanent residence permit and British citizenship after getting a pioneer visa
After 3 years of residing in the UK on the Innovator Visa, the entrepreneur has the opportunity to apply for permanent residence, provided that they continue to meet the immigration requirements. In order to apply, foreigners must pay a registration fee of 2,389 GBP for themselves and each family member, as well as 19.2 GBP for each applicant’s biometric data.
The application registration procedure is similar to the Innovator Visa application. The British Immigration Service makes a decision on granting a permanent residence permit within 6 months. After living in the country for 5 years, the foreigner has the right to apply for citizenship on the basis of naturalization.
Innovator Visa gives a foreigner a wide range of diverse opportunities, which are not available in other visa categories. An innovator has the ability to work for their own company, which is impossible for those, living in the UK on Sole Representative Visa For Overseas Businesses. An innovator has the opportunity to extend his or her status an unlimited number of times, which the startup visa does not allow. There is no need to invest a large sum in real estate to live in the country, as required by the conditions for obtaining the Golden Visa in Spain or Portugal. If we compare how much it costs to immigrate to Europe under different programs, we can conclude that the Innovator Visa is much cheaper than the Golden Visa.
Before starting the process of applying for an innovator visa, the entrepreneur should take into account that the British authorities are extremely meticulous in checking each candidate. To avoid mistakes, the applicant should contact a competent immigration lawyer, who will help develop a flawless business plan and form a flawless visa dossier. The involvement of a qualified specialist will significantly increase the applicant’s chances of successfully obtaining an Innovator Visa to the UK.