UK Innovator Visa – all your questions answered

UK Innovator Visa
Photo by Johan Mouchet on Unsplash

The UK Innovator visa is a very exciting immigration route that offers many benefits. Entrepreneurs and Innovators who have something different and innovative to offer the UK market will find the UK Innovator visa the perfect fit. Below we have clarified some of the issues and most frequently asked questions on this visa.

Start-up Visa vs UK Innovator Visa

Many applicants believe that they first have to apply for the Start-up Visa before progressing to the UK Innovator visa. However, that is not the case.

The two visas are very similar in their criteria, but the UK Innovator visa requires investment funds of £50,000. The Start-up visa does not require investment funds but does not lead to settlement in the UK.

Breytenbachs recommends that applicants who can meet the investment funds criteria rather apply for the UK Innovator visa. The reasoning behind this is that the visa, of course, leads to settlement. It is thus a faster route to settle in the UK. Once you have the status of Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be able to do business without immigration restrictions.

Business Ideas for the UK Market

Many people are unsure about what types of ideas will qualify for endorsement for the UK Innovator visa. The good news is that the scope of the endorsing bodies is very wide. Applicants will be sure to find an endorsing body that covers their business sector.

Some of the endorsing bodies cover all sectors. Other endorsing bodies are specific and cover specific sectors: fashion, education, infrastructure, science, retail, materials, foods, life sciences, hygiene, fintech, cybersecurity, legal and many more.

Thus, the good news is that it will be possible to find an endorsing body covering your innovative business idea.

Endorsing Bodies

Some UK Innovator visa applicants feel discouraged when they hear that they have to get an endorsement for their business idea. However, the opposite is true. Many of the endorsing bodies commit to mentor and support the business during the first three years of operation in the UK. This support is invaluable for even the most experienced entrepreneurs who have to start a new business in the UK market.

It is important to stay in contact with the endorsing body, as they need to be satisfied that you are continuing your work on the business venture. The endorsing body has checkpoints after 6, 12 and 24 months. They have to inform the Home Office if they are not satisfied with the progress. Such dissatisfaction could result in an endorsement being withdrawn and the leave to remain curtailed.

Therefore, it is crucial to stay in touch with your endorsing body and ensure that you commit to your business venture.

Work Restrictions while on the UK Innovator Visa

One of the UK Innovator Visa’s limitations is that you cannot do any work outside your own business. You thus cannot take up employment at another company.

However, you can set up several businesses, work for yourself and be a member of a business partnership.

Indefinite Leave to Remain and Travelling

To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after three years, you may not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK. These days are counted as 180-days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the three years leading to ILR.

Innovators who travel for business thus have to keep records of their travels outside the UK. Careful record keeping will ensure that you do not jeopardise your ILR application.

Extension of your UK Innovator Visa

After three years, visa holders who cannot qualify for ILR can apply to extend their visa.

It is possible to extend the visa for three years at a time. However, your endorsing body will have to re-endorse you for every application.

There is no maximum limit that a person can spend in this visa category. However, it will be best to apply for ILR as soon as one qualifies.

How Breytenbachs can help you

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a highly trained and experienced team of consultants dealing with the UK Innovator Visa. They also have a good relationship with a number of the endorsing bodies and will connect you to the most relevant endorsement body for your business idea!

Our consultants will guide innovators through the endorsement process and visa application, and eventual application for British citizenship. Contact us today for advice or to proceed with your application.

You can also find the full rules on qualifying for the Innovator Visa at this link.