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16 September 2020
This article outlines everything that applicants should know regarding the Innovator visa.
The innovator route is open to applicants who:
This route offers three years' leave for both initial and extension applications. There is no maximum time limit for this category and it can lead to settlement in the United Kingdom. If the applicant is applying for leave to remain from within the United Kingdom, they must have, or have last had, leave in any of the following categories:
Applicants need not be the sole founder of the business and the business can already be trading as long as they are one of its founders.
Applicants must have an appropriately issued endorsement from a Home Office-approved endorsing body for this category.
The endorsing body will:
Immigration permission as an innovator will be cut short if an endorsing body withdraws its endorsement of an individual migrant or loses its status as an endorsing body for this category.
Endorsement criteria for applicants will differ depending on whether the applicant is relying on a new business or the same business.
New business endorsement can occur where:
Evidence of investment funds is required.
Same business endorsement can occur where:
Start-up visa holders who have changed their business venture during their leave with approval from their endorsing body will need to meet the 'same business' criteria when they submit an application for the Innovator category.
In all cases, the endorsement must be obtained before making an application. Thus, an applicant who is in the United Kingdom with existing leave must ensure that they have received an endorsement and made an application under the Innovator category before their current leave expires so that they can avoid overstaying.
New business endorsement criteria
Same business endorsement criteria
Confirmation that the applicant meets the appropriate endorsement criteria must be included in an endorsement letter, which must also contain:
The endorsing body must not have withdrawn its support by the time that the decision maker considers the application.
Where an applicant is seeking to meet the 'new business' endorsement criteria, at least £50,000 of funding must be available to invest in the applicant's business. This can include funds already invested in the business.
Where the applicant is not the sole founder, there must be at least £50,000 of funding available per non-resident Innovator team member.
No further evidence is required where the endorsement letter confirms that at least £50,000 is available to the applicant or has already been invested in the business.
Where not confirmed by the endorsement letter, the applicant must provide:
In addition to having an endorsement, the Home Office will make its own assessments in relation to an applicant's:
Applicants in the Innovator category must also meet an English-language requirement, which is set at Level B2 of the Council of Europe's common European framework for language and learning, as well as a cash fund maintenance requirement of £945 and £630 for any dependants.
The Home Office can ask for further information or evidence from the applicant or endorsing body and may refuse the application if it is not satisfied that the endorsement was issued appropriately.
If the applicant is making a settlement (eg, indefinite leave to remain) application, the endorsement letter must confirm that the 'same business' endorsement criteria continue to be satisfied and that the applicant's business venture meets at least two of the following requirements:
Where the applicant relies on job creation criteria, jobs must:
An applicant can rely on any combination of the above, even if similar or overlapping, but cannot rely on one requirement twice.
If the business venture has one or more other team members who are applying for, or who have been granted, settlement as an innovator, they cannot share the same means of meeting the settlement requirements.
For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne or Naomi Hanrahan-Soar at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
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