To set up and run an innovative business in the UK, you should consider the Innovator visa.
This visa is available to individuals who meet specific eligibility requirements:
- Your business idea must be new, meaning you cannot join a business that is already trading.
- Your business idea must be innovative and different from anything else on the market.
- Your business should be viable and have potential for growth.
- You must demonstrate that your business is scalable and has plans for job creation and expansion into national and international markets.
- To apply for this visa, you’ll need to find an endorsing body to assess and endorse your business idea, confirming that it meets the requirements.
- You must also have knowledge of the English language, which you may need to prove during your application.
The visa allows you to stay in the UK for 3 years if you meet the eligibility criteria. You can either come to the UK on an Innovator Founder visa or switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK. You’ll need to meet with your endorsing body after 12 and 24 months to demonstrate progress with your business. If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa may be shortened. To stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
The application fees depend on your location, and the processing time for a decision varies:
- If you apply from outside the UK, it costs £1,191 per person, and you usually get a decision within 3 weeks.
- If you apply to extend or switch your visa within the UK, it costs £1,486 per person, and the decision usually takes 8 weeks.
Your partner and children can apply to join you or stay in the UK as your dependants if they are eligible.
Keep in mind that with an Innovator Founder visa, there are certain restrictions, such as not being able to work as a professional sportsperson or apply for most public funds or the State Pension. After a successful application, you will receive a full list of what you can and cannot do with this visa.