The United Kingdom recognises migrants as one of the most efficient means to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship, maximise economic growth, and build a more innovative and productive economy, and thus introduced a flagship program for overseas entrepreneurs named INNOVATOR VISA. The program aims to encourage the development and investments in viable, innovative, and scalable businesses in the United Kingdom to drive economic growth.
The Innovator Visa category is for experienced Entrepreneurs willing to start a business in the UK. It also accommodates the professional businessmen running a company outside the United Kingdom for many years and desire to expand it to the UK.
It is important to note that applicants can only establish new businesses or join businesses they have recently established rather than join existing businesses they have not previously been involved with.
The Innovator Visa is an incredible opportunity for business owners to increase their customer base worldwide and monetise while creating new opportunities for the community to work and prosper. With a favourable tax regime, stable and democratic political system, respected and robust law system, and a strengthening British Pound - "haven" currency, the UK is becoming the home for entrepreneurs globally. Through the Innovator visa, entrepreneurs gain unique opportunities to access the thriving UK economy, booming UK's tech sector and international platform. Now it is your chance to expand your business, increase your client base worldwide, create profit, and gain international recognition.
While all types of business are possible with no exceptions, innovation, feasibility, and scalability are the only things that matter.
Important Requirements Include:
The Innovator Visa application includes a two-stage application process.
1. Endorsement Application (Endorsing Bodies)
2. Visa Application (Home Office)
The UK government appoints several organisations as endorsing bodies. These endorsing bodies will be responsible for issuing endorsements to the applicants by assessing their business venture, staying in touch with the applicant to monitor their progress and issuing further endorsements where relevant.
At this stage, you submit an endorsement application similar to a mini visa application to one of the endorsement bodies. At this stage, you offer your passport, final business plan, evidence of funds, and proof of English proficiency. The Endorsing Body will usually take 3-5 working days to process the application, followed by an invite for a virtual interview. Interviews are conducted virtually and typically last for 45-60 minutes. The interview further assesses your business idea and your preparedness to start a business in the UK.
If the endorsing body finds you eligible for the endorsement, they will send you a written offer letter to confirm what is agreed during the interview. An offer will usually consist of a business support package or venture builder, which will incur a monthly fee paid to the Endorsing Body over the duration of the Visa. Also, a deposit has to be provided to the endorsing body as a confirmation of offer acceptance.
As the offer is accepted, a draft of the Endorsement Letter is issued by the endorsing body to ensure the provided details. The final draft is later linked with the UK Home Office's system. Once the Official Endorsement Letter is received, applicants get 3 months to submit the Visa Application.
Having successfully secured an endorsement, you will submit your Innovator Visa application to the Home Office. Our team will guide you at the stage. At this stage, you need to submit your documents such as passport, fund maintenance, English language proof, evidence of investment fund etc., in support of an Innovator visa application. Once you have applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you will usually get a decision on your Visa within 3 weeks, if you're outside the UK (or) 8 weeks if you're inside the UK.
If the application is approved, applicants are expected to contact the endorsing bodies every 6 Months. This follow-up ensures the endorsing body that you are willing to continue your business venture and make reasonable progress in your innovative, scalable, and viable business idea. If you fail to do so, your endorsement may be withdrawn, resulting in curtailing your leave.
The cost of a UK Innovator Visa depends on where you apply from and your specific situation. Applicants applying outside the UK or staying in the UK less than a year must pay £1021 (per person) for themselves and their partner and children. If the application is made within the UK (extend or switch Visa), the applicant and their partner and children should pay £1,277 (per head).
In addition to these fees applicants and their dependents are also liable to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of the application. Currently, £624 per year for all applicants for 3 years or the period leave granted. After 3 years, applicants are generally eligible for ILR (UK health care will be free), which means no more IHS/NHS/Healthcare payment. However, your dependents have to pay extra 2 years (total 5 years health care fee) as they are eligible for the ILR after 5 years (principal applicant after 3 years). A partial refund is automatically generated if the healthcare surcharge is paid for more years than the granted leave.
The UK Innovator visa is an intriguing immigration opportunity with significant benefits. It is ideal for entrepreneurs and innovators with something unique and original to offer the UK market. So if you have an interesting idea and want to initiate a business in the UK, now can be the best time to apply.