Immigration UK

UK Innovator Visa: Best Route For Investors and Entrepreneurs

Doing business in the UK has its many benefits. As a foreign, you can apply and start doing business in the UK if you have enough funds. For such a venture, there are different visa types you can apply for, and one of them is the UK Innovator Visa.

The UK Innovator Visa is relatively new but is now popular due to its many benefits. You will find all you need to know about this ingenious visa in this WorldTravelPride post. Read on.

What Is the UK Innovator Visa?

The UK Innovator Visa replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in 2019. Entrepreneurs with extensive business experience who wish to launch a company in the UK may qualify for immigration under the Innovator Visa route. Applicants must have a minimum of £50,000 in available capital, and an endorsing body must approve their business plan. 

An Endorsing body is a group recognized by the UK Home Office as competent to evaluate business plans submitted under the UK Innovator Visa Programme. The business plan needs to be creative while also being practical and scalable.

The Endorsing body’s endorsement letter is necessary at all relevant application stages: original application, visa extension application, or indefinite leave to remain application. Notably, one of the best benefits of the innovator visa is that it’s an easy route to getting permanent residency in the UK.

To apply, you must be at least 18 years old, a citizen or permanent resident of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants are welcome to include their spouses/partners and children under 18 in their applications.

Eligibility Requirements for the Innovator Visa

You must meet basic requirements to be eligible for the UK Innovator Visa. These requirements include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language
  • You must be able to prove that you have enough funds to support your stay in the country

While the above are basic requirements, the UK Home Office has other specific eligibility requirements for Innovator Visa applicants. These requirements depend on what you plan to do in the UK.

If you want to launch a business in the country, you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds. Notably, you must prove how you got the money.

It’s mandatory that you provide the investment funds all by yourself. You may be part of a business team with two, three, or more members. Each member must have a minimum of £50,000 investment funds to apply for the UK Innovator Visa.

You will not need to have the investment funds if you already have a business in the UK or you have previously been endorsed for a similar visa.

To support yourself in the UK, the UK Home Office demands that you have at least £1,270 in personal savings. Even if you don’t need to present the investment funds, you must have the personal savings amount in any Innovator Visa application circumstance.

Innovator Visa Required Documents

The UK Home Office pointedly lists documents that Innovator Visa applicants must provide. These documents include:

  • Valid international passport. You can also present any other document proving your nationality and identity.
  • Proof that you are proficient in the English language.
  • Proof that you have the funds to invest or start up a business in the UK.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support your stay in the country. Usually, you should have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.
  • Tuberculosis test results, if it is mandatory for your home country.

While these are the primary documents, the UK Home Office may still request additional documents. Nevertheless, ultimately, the main requirement you need to meet is to have the funds to invest in the country.

UK Innovator Visa Application Fees

The UK Innovator visa attracts a processing fee, and the cost depends on where you’re applying from. If you’re applying from outside the UK, you pay £1,036. On the other hand, if you’re applying from within the UK, you pay £1,292.

The cost is the same for anyone – dependents typically – who wants to join you in the UK.

Note that the processing fee is independent of the amount you need to invest and the one you need to prove you can support your stay. It’s a nonrefundable fee that you must pay as you submit your application.

Aside from the processing fee, the Innovator Visa also attracts a healthcare surcharge. The healthcare surcharge is an annual fee you must pay to access healthcare in the UK. It varies depending on how long you plan to stay in the UK.

Innovator visa applications usually pay £624 per year since the visa lasts multiple years. Your dependents must also pay a healthcare surcharge, and you’ll get the prompt to pay during your online application.

If you don’t pay your healthcare surcharge, the UK Home Office will send you an email, after which you must pay the fee within 7 to 10 working days. Failure to do so makes your visa application automatically invalid.

How To Apply for UK Innovator Visa

If you’re outside the UK, you can begin your application for the Innovator Visa online. If you’re applying from inside the UK, you also need to apply online, but you’ll be applying for a visa switch instead.

You might experience processing delays during the early application stages as you have to submit documents and prove your identity. As a result, it’s in your best interest to provide all the essential documents and leave nothing out.

After your online application, you will get a decision from the UK Home Office within three weeks if you are outside the UK. It takes longer to process a visa switch if you are inside the UK. Hence, you’ll get a decision within eight weeks.

In some cases, especially if you need to go for an appointment, you could pay to get a faster decision. Such fast decisions take only a few days with the priority or super-priority service.

How Long Does an Innovator Visa Last?

If your UK innovation visa is successful and you enter the country, you can stay for up to three years. The duration is also three years if you apply from inside the country.

During this period, you should focus on doing what the visa demands, including setting up a business and employing staff. Notably, the UK Home Office will give you a comprehensive list of what you can and cannot do during your three-year stay.

UK Innovator Visa Extension

You can extend your Innovator Visa when it expires after three years. For that, however, you need to meet the eligibility requirements and have a running business. The UK Home Office will examine your extension application just like the initial visa application.

Extending your UK innovator visa attracts a processing fee, and since you’re already in the UK, you’ll pay £1,292. Similarly, you may have to wait up to eight weeks to get a decision on your application for an extension.

Dependents Of UK Innovator Visa Holders

Since the UK Innovator Visa lets you stay in the country for more than a year, it also enables you to bring dependents. Your dependents can apply for visas at the same time as you or later. Likewise, they can travel to the UK or join you later.

When bringing dependents, one of the most important things to note is that you will need extra funds. You won’t only need money to support yourself in the UK, but you will also need money to support each person that joins you in the country.

Benefits of Investing in the UK

When it comes to investing, the United Kingdom (UK) is among the world’s most sought-after locations due to its high level of connectivity. The city of London serves as its hub, and as a business and cultural hub, it attracts individuals from all over the world. 

Due to its unrivaled financial and economic reach and favorable tax laws for citizens and non-domiciled individuals, the UK has earned a reputation as a secure place to invest.

There is no reason to expect a decline in the United Kingdom’s global impact despite its departure from the European Union after more than four decades of membership.

Undoubtedly, the nation’s enterprising character and high educational and governmental standards will remain as the country pursues a diverse array of international partnerships.

With numerous daily flights to New York, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires, the UK has long been a vital link between Europe and the Americas. Additionally, it has good connections to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. It is perfect for international travel and business because it is in the time zone halfway between the US and Asia.

How To Get Permanent Residence

As mentioned earlier, one of the best advantages of the Innovator visa is that it is an easy route to reside permanently in the UK. You can apply for indefinite leave to remain after just three years.

However, it requires that you meet some detailed requirements, notably different from the regular.

To obtain permanent residency status, the applicant must focus only on growing his business and is not allowed to hold any other jobs.

The application must provide evidence that they have worked continuously in the UK, and more crucially, the applicant must provide evidence that the firm has met at least two of the seven conditions listed below:

1. No less than £50,000 has been invested and spent to further the business strategy described in the applicant’s previous endorsement. 

2. The company’s client base has grown by at least 100% over the past three years, and it now has more customers than the average company in the UK that provides its product or service type. 

3. The company has filed for intellectual property (IP) protection in the United Kingdom after extensive research and development.

4. The company’s most recent full fiscal year, covered by its accounts, saw a minimum annual sales of £1 million. 

5. The company made at least £500,000 in yearly sales in the most recent accounting period, with at least £100,000 coming from exports. 

6. The company has established at least ten full-time equivalent employment for local people that have been in place for at least a year. 

7. The company has created the equivalent of five full-time positions for local employees that have existed for at least a year and have an annual wage of at least £25,000.

Residential Requirement

In terms of physical presence, a person who wants to become a permanent resident must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any of the 12 calendar months before applying. 

Aside from being in the UK physically, the applicant must also show that they know enough about the language and way of life there. This is checked by taking an exam called “Life in the UK” and an English language test. 

Once you get permanent residency, you can apply to become a British citizen. Before applying, you must have been a permanent resident for at least a year.

Only those who have spent less than 450 days outside the UK in the preceding five years can get citizenship. Also, you must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the preceding year before applying.

Bottom Line

The UK is a welcoming location if you can afford up to £50,000 in investment funds and plan to invest in a foreign country. The UK Innovator Visa makes it super easy for you to start a business in the UK and easily leads to permanent residency. With the information in this post, you should be able to apply for an Innovator Visa without problems.

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