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UK Innovator Visa Process

Overview

You can apply for an Innovator visa if:

  • You want to set up or run a business in the UK
  • You’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • You meet the other eligibility requirements
  • Your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body

Funds you’ll need

You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you want to set up a new business. You do not need funds if either:

  • Your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa
  • You’ve changed your business and already agreed with it with your endorsing body

Getting endorsed

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • New – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
  • Innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • Viable, with potential for growth

How long it takes to get a visa?

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Example

You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

Fees

How much you pay for an Innovator visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.

Healthcare surcharge You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

If you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK

You’ll need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

How long you can stay?

You can stay for 3 years if you:

  • come to the UK on an Innovator visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa You can apply to extend for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There’s no limit on the number of times you can extend.

You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you’ve been in the UK for 3 years.

If your endorsement is withdrawn

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.

What you can and cannot do

You can:

  • Set up a business or several businesses
  • Work for your business – this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership
  • Bring family members with you

You cannot:

  • Do any work outside your business, for example, work where you’re employed by another business
  • Work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • Work as a professional sportsperson, for example, a sports coach
  • Get public funds

Eligibility

Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body.

They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

You must also:

  • meet the English language requirement
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK

If you want to set up a new business

You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for an Innovator visa if you want to set up a new business.

Your funding can come from any source.

You do not need any investment funds if either:

  • Your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.
  • You’ve changed your business and already agreed with it with your endorsing body.

Supporting yourself

You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

You cannot use either of the following to support yourself:

  • Money from your investment funds
  • Money earned while working in the UK illegally

Sharing investment funds

You can form a team with other Innovator applicants, but you cannot share the same investment funds.

Your team must have £50,000 for each Innovator applicant. For example, if you have 2 Innovator applicants, your team must have £100,000 to invest.

Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • Passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • Having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.

Exceptions

You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The USA

Documents You Must Provide

When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ to show that an approved body has assessed your business or business idea.

You also need to provide:

  • A current passport or other valid travel identification
  • Bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply · proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • Evidence of your investment funds (if you’re setting up a new business) · your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

You need a blank page in your passport for your visa.

Apply

  • You must apply online for an Innovator visa.
  • You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application center (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.
  • You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).
  • Find out how to get your visa decision faster – this depends on what country you’re in.
  • Check if your visa application center offers faster decisions and other services.

Applying from North Korea

You cannot apply online if you’re living in North Korea.

To apply from North Korea you must:

  • Download the application form and guidance – read the guidance if you need help filling in the form
  • Read the instructions to find out where to take your completed form

Extend Your Visa

You may be able to extend your Innovator visa.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

You can apply to extend your visa if both of the following apply:

  • You meet the eligibility requirements
  • You’re still running a business in the UK or want to set up a new one

You must have £50,000 in investment funds if you want to set up a new business. You do not need funds if either:

  • Your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa
  • You’ve changed your business and already agreed with it with your endorsing body

You need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body when you extend your visa.

You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend – including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

How to extend your visa if you’re in the UK?

You must apply online.

Providing biometric information and supporting documents When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).

You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents. You can:

  • Upload them into the online service
  • Have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment

You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

Get help to apply online

You can get help with completing the online form if you:

  • Do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • Do not have internet access

You can only use this service if you’re applying to extend your visa in the UK.

How long it takes?

A decision will be made on your application within 8 weeks. You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer. This could be because:

  • Your supporting documents need to be verified
  • You need to attend an interview
  • Of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

Switch To This Visa

You may be able to switch to an Innovator visa.

You should apply before your current visa expires You can apply to switch to this visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK on one of the following visas:

  • Start-up visa
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Any Tier 2 visa
  • Standard Visitor visa – if you came to the UK to get funding and had a supporting letter from an endorsing body

You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you’re here on a different type of visa.

How long you can stay?

You can stay for 3 years after switching to an Innovator visa.

There’s no limit on the number of times you can extend your visa.

Providing biometric information and supporting documents When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).

You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents. You can:

  • Upload them into the online service
  • Have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment

Get help to apply online

You can get help with completing the online form if you:

  • Do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • Do not have internet access

You can only use this service if you’re applying to switch to this visa in the UK.

How long it takes?

A decision will be made on your application within 8 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer. This could be because:

  • Your supporting documents need to be verified
  • You need to attend an interview
  • Of your personal circumstances, for example, you have a criminal conviction

Family members

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • Your partner
  • Your child under 18
  • Your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Savings

You must have £630 for each dependant in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself. This is to show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

You need proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Dependants applying outside the UK Your family members must apply online.

They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application center (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of their application.

They’ll have to collect their biometric residence permit within 10 days of when they said they’d arrive in the UK (even if they actually arrive at a later date).

They may be able to get their visa faster or other services depending on what country they’re in – check with the visa application center.

Dependants applying in the UK on their own

Your dependents can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. Dependants must either:

  • apply online as a dependent partner ·
  • apply online as a dependent child

Providing biometric information and supporting documents

When they apply, they’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide their biometric information (their fingerprints and a photo).

They’ll also need to submit their supporting documents. They can:

  • Upload them into the online service
  • Have them scanned at their UKVCAS appointment

Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.

They’ll be contacted if their application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • If their supporting documents need to be verified
  • If they need to attend an interview
  • Because of their personal circumstances (for example if they have a criminal conviction)

Get help to apply online

Your family can get help with completing the online form if they:

  • Do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • Do not have internet access

Your family can only use this service if they’re applying to extend or switch to your visa in the UK.

Children born in the UK

If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply online to add them to your visa as your dependant.

You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with them.

You’ll need to provide a full UK birth certificate for each child, showing the names of both parents.

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