The Innovator visa route is aimed at experienced entrepreneurs seeking to set up or run a business in the UK. The initial Innovator visa grants entry for 3 years which can be extended for another 3 years with no maximum time limit in the category. After an applicant in this category has been in the UK for a continuous period of 3 years, they may be eligible to apply for permission to permanently settle in the UK, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.
On 29th March 2019, the Innovator visa category was launched by the Home Office as a replacement for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category, which is no longer a valid visa category in the UK. This new category aims to encourage the development of and investments in viable, innovative and scalable businesses in the United Kingdom in order to drive economic growth.
The initial visa granted is for 3 years and can be extended for a further 3 years, with no maximum time in this category. After 3 years of continuous residence in the UK, you may be able to apply to settle in the UK.
Requirements for Settlement as an Innovator:
All applicants must meet the following requirements before they can apply for ILR in the Innovator category:
- Meet the residence requirement for the period of 3 years prior to the date the application is submitted.
- Their most recent grant of leave must have been as an Innovator.
- They should not be in breach of any Immigration Laws.
- They must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English Language and have passed the Life in the UK test.
- They must not be refused under the general grounds for refusal which demonstrate they are not of a good character, for example, if they have previous convictions or a bad immigration history.
Anyone who wishes to apply for settlement as an Innovator must provide an endorsement letter from a Home Office-approved endorsing body confirming the following:
- The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.
- The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.
- The business is active and trading.
- The business appears to be sustainable for at least 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.
- The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.
The endorsement letter should also confirm at least two of the following requirements:
- Invested at least £50,000 into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.
- The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.
- The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
- The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
- The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).