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UK Innovator Visa: how to get settled in 3 years with a minimum investment?

PUBLISHED: 20 July 2021
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Because of the UK’s extremely good location on the European map and centuries-old traditions of entrepreneurship, the United Kingdom has regularly been included in the top five most attractive countries for investment. Political stability and economic prosperity, together with huge outlet markets and healthy competition, promote the development of British business. There are several visa categories in the UK immigration law which allow foreign businessmen to move to Great Britain and open their own company.

Home Office began accepting applications for the Innovator Visa on March 29, 2019. It was at the same time when it stopped considering applications for the Entrepreneur visa. It would be logical to assume that both old and new visas have a lot in common because both are intended for experienced foreign businessmen who are ready to invest resources in the development of their business in Great Britain.

However, there are no other similarities. According to Vasily Kluev, Accounts Manager and Immigration Adviser at Imperial & Legal, the new immigration category has many benefits. Some of these have yet to be appreciated by thousands of British entrepreneurs of foreign origin.

5 benefits of UK Innovator visa

  1. You will need to invest quite a small amount of money in your company – from £50,000 – in order to obtain the UK Innovator visa.
  2. You can set up a company by yourself or together with partners. In this case at least £50,000 will be invested by each team member in developing a new business.
  3. The status of an Innovator is great for those who already have a business abroad and are planning to open a representative office in the UK. However, if you only have a new business idea and the means to bring it to life, you can also become an Innovator.
  4. The investor can include their family – spouse or a civil partner and minor children – in the immigration application.
  5. If your company shows good results in the ultra competitive British market, you will have the opportunity to apply for a permanent residence permit in 3 years, and in another 2 years – to obtain British citizenship!

What are the restrictions for Innovator visa holders?

  • Those people who have moved to the UK must develop only their business. They are not allowed to do any other work;
  • A professional athlete or sports coach cannot be an innovator;
  • Entrepreneurs who have chosen this immigration category cannot claim social benefits.

5 преимуществ британской визы Новатора

How to obtain UK Innovator Visa?

The British believe that only a qualified person can successfully run business in a foreign country; therefore, they have strict requirements for applicants for the British Innovator visa:

  1. The applicant’s age must be over 18 years old;
  2. Businessman’s criminal record must be clean;
  3. It is necessary to have good health for applicant and all dependents in the application. It is required to present a negative medical test for tuberculosis for nationals of some countries;
  4. An entrepreneur must have enough money received in an honest way in order to invest £50,000 or more in his/her own business and to support the family after arriving in England without claiming public benefits;
  5. It is necessary to know the English language at the level not lower than B2 according to the classification adopted in Europe;
  6. Field-specific education and business experience are mandatory;
  7. The applicant must provide a competently drawn-up business plan to obtain a visa;
  8. Last but not least, the idea of your business which has already existed abroad or just opened in the UK must be viable, innovative and scalable.

Viable business idea for an Innovator

Usually, this requirement for prospective British entrepreneurs is difficult to meet. How do the British themselves interpret the three criteria by which a new business is estimated?

  • Innovation
    Everything is simple here. An Innovator cannot invest money in a company that has already been operating in the country. All services or products you provide must be truly original and unparalleled in the UK market.
  • Viability
    In the UK, business must have potential, both directly in the idea itself and provided by your experience, knowledge and resources.
  • Scalability
    The idea on which your business is based allows it to grow and develop, create additional jobs, provide more goods and services in the UK and abroad.

The endorsing body carries out the endorsement of the idea for your business. The British government’s website has published a guidance for Innovator endorsing bodies that have the right to infer business ideas and make endorsements.

Advisers of Imperial & Legal understand how difficult it can be to choose viable business idea in the UK which will be fully supported by the endorsing body. Our experts are ready to help you both with finding a good idea and with receiving an endorsement letter.

The evaluation of your idea is more likely to be positive if you provide an elaborate business plan.

Как получить визу Новатора в Великобританию?

4 signs of correct business plan drafting

  1. The business plan’s idea must meet new or existing market needs and create a competitive advantage;
  2. The plan must be realistic and achievable taking into account the applicant’s existing resources;
  3. An applicant for the UK Innovator visa must have all the knowledge and practical skills necessary to run a business successfully and develop them constantly;
  4. The business plan must contain elements of structured planning and evidence of potential for growth and job creation.

Periodic Innovator’s business verification

The endorsing body which approved the business idea generally values its business reputation. Your endorsement letter may be revoked if the company goes wrong or fails. In order to prevent this, after 6, 12 and 24 months of work you need to contact your endorsers, share your successful results and prove that your business fully meets all the requirements.

If your company still did not pass the verification and endorsement was revoked, in order not to lose the valid Innovator visa, you need to make a new application and get a new endorsement.

How to make an application for Innovator visa?

As with other categories, the application for the UK Innovator Visa is submitted online, and the issuance is made both outside the UK (in one of visa centres) and in the territory of the country, for example, if you switch from another category.

The process for your application takes from 3 to 8 weeks. The obtained immigration status is valid for 3 years and can be extended.

Innovator visa extension

Before your primary visa expires, you can extend your immigration status for another 3 years if:

  1. You still meet all the requirements of the UK Visas and Immigration;
  2. You are still running your business or are ready to establish a new one and invest in its development from £50,000;
  3. Your business is supported by the endorsing body.

Together with you, your wife or husband, children under 18 and financially dependent children over the 18 who have reached the age of majority during the validity period of the first visa can extend their visas. British laws do not limit the number of extensions of the Innovator visa in any way.

Продление визы Новатора

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and British Citizenship for Innovator

Before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, an Innovator must achieve significant success in the field of entrepreneurship and live 3 years in the country. Your success is confirmed by the endorsing body which issued an endorsement approving your business idea.

The new confirmation must contain the information about the development of your business all the time you have been a CEO or one of the partners, how you plan to continue your activities in the future and confirm that the last verification identified significant success of your company and you meet at least two of the following requirements:

  1. The entrepreneur spent at least £50,000 on the development of the company and in full accordance with the business plan endorsed by the endorsing body;
  2. There has been a significant increase in customer base over the years (more than 2 times from the initial values) and the total number of the company’s clients now exceeds the average for corporate competitors that provide similar goods or services on the market;
  3. During your business activity, research and development was carried out and it became the cause for patent applications and patents registered in the United Kingdom;
  4. Gross revenue was more than £1,000,000 for the past year;
  5. Gross revenue for the year was a smaller amount – £500,000, but £100,000 was received from export operations;
  6. During the implementation of your business idea, the company created 10 full-time jobs for citizens and resident workers of the country or their equivalent (for example, 20 part-time jobs);
  7. Only 5 full-time employees were hired but the annual salary of each was at least £25,000 before taxes.

Please pay attention to the fact that in order to be able to apply for the status of a permanent resident of the UK, your endorsement letter must confirm the fulfilment of at least two of the requirements set out above.

Other criteria for a UK permanent residency applicant

  • Staying in Great Britain. Your absences from the United Kingdom cannot exceed 180 days in any 12-month period from the arrival on the first visa until the application for a permanent residence permit is submitted;
  • You must have clean criminal and immigration records;
  • All adult applicants must also pass an English language test at Level B1 and a Life in the UK test.

With ILR, you will have almost the same number of rights and benefits as ordinary citizens of the British Isles. After two years of living with an ILR card (and five years of permanent residence in the country since the first entry on the Innovator visa), the most obstinate entrepreneurs are usually naturalised and receive a British passport.

British citizenship and passport requirements

British citizenship implies a higher degree of integration into English society:

  1. In 5 years prior to applying for citizenship, you cannot spend more than 450 days outside the UK and in the year preceding the application for naturalisation, you cannot leave Great Britain for more than 90 days;
  2. An applicant must have good reputation. Criminal and administrative offences are unacceptable;
  3. Knowledge of the English language at Level B1 or higher. If you and your adult dependents do not have UK bachelor’s degrees or master’s degree, knowledge of the language will be checked by the test;
  4. Also you need to pass a Life in the UK test.

If all of the above requirements are met, you will become the owner of a certificate of naturalisation in maximum a month and a half, on the basis of which your immigration lawyer will submit an application for a British passport.

Требования для получения гражданства и паспорта Великобритании

If you want to realise your business idea in one of the world’s financial centres, experienced advisers of our company will be happy to help you obtain the high-end immigration status of an Innovator and organise the relocation of the whole family to the UK.

The qualified experts of Imperial & Legal have huge experience and have seen that only an individual approach, taking into account all the circumstances and the wishes of the client, gives the best result. The range of tasks solved by our advisers is not limited only to immigration issues, so Imperial & Legal has packaged offers for business. Moreover, our experts will help a new British businessman of foreign origin with bookkeeping and even prepare the first reports to HM Revenue & Customs and Companies House.

The Innovator visa is a short and inexpensive way to ILR and then British citizenship for a successful businessman. With professional legal support from Imperial & Legal, within 3 years after moving to the United Kingdom, you can become a permanent resident of the UK. Our advisers are ready to help you with any issue related to obtaining a British Innovator visa or any other type of visa for moving to the UK.

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