INNOVATOR VISA

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In March 2019, Tier 1 Start-Up visa and Innovator replaced Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa respectively. The introduction has been made because a large number of approved applications of Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa resulted in low-quality businesses in the UK. Moreover, those businesses were not positively contributing to the UK economy in a significant manner. Therefore, the two new categories have been introduced to reform the immigration system.

The newly added categories replace the point-based system for a more patent system that sets a criterion for ranking an application. It is also expected that other types of visas for workers will also be scrapped in a time to come for more productive replacements. 

INNOVATOR VISA REQUIREMENTS

Any person who is above 18 years of age can make Innovator Visa application provided he is able to fulfil the relevant requirements. The Innovator Visa application can be made from overseas or from the UK provided the applicant has leave in an immigration category allowing him to switch to Innovator Visa within the UK.

Business Plan for Innovator Visa

Innovator Visa category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants, in addition to funding of £50,000, will have an innovative, viable and salable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. The Innovator Visa applicant needs to have an innovative idea for the proposed business and be able to establish the viability of business and it’s growth within set time limits. The Innovator Visa applicant would need to set details of his proposed Innovator Visa business plan in the backdrop of the current market situation, financial aspect and the benefits drawn from the business itself, which would require extensive market research and business analysis.

 

Endorsement & Endorsing Body for Innovator Visa

All applicants for Innovator Visa entry clearance or Innovator leave to remain must have been endorsed in this category by an endorsing body listed on the gov.uk website. The Innovator Visa applicant is required to apply to the relevant endorsing body in order to obtain endorsement. The applicant would only be granted endorsement for Innovator Visa when endorsing body carries out a full analysis of the business plan, its viability and scalability. Once endorsement is granted, the applicant can make Innovator Visa application.

The endorsing body’s job does not end here. They have a duty to review the progress of the business in 6 months, 12 months and 24 months’ time and report to the Home Office, if it is found that applicant has not made a reasonable progress or is carrying out another business that does not meet the endorsing criteria or the application misses these checkpoints.

Credibility Assessment for Innovator Visa

Once the Innovator Visa application is submitted, the decision maker (ECO in case of entry clearance applications or the Caseworker in the Home Office) needs to be satisfied that all of the following requirements of Innovator Visa application are met:

  • The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
  • The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
  • Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.

The decision maker may also take into account the factors like; the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility, the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history, declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK and any other relevant information. These factors help in establishing that the applicant’s proposed or existing business is genuine and promising and the Home Office may therefore check the authenticity of the documents submitted with the application, interview the applicant or even visit the business premises to see the physical and trading existence of the business.

 

The decision maker may also make request for additional information or interview the applicant to assess his credibility. It is therefore extremely important to seek professional help and advice in respect of Innovator Visa applications. We have good experience in preparing our clients for the interviews and can therefore help our clients at any stage of their immigration matters.

English Language Requirements Innovator Visa application

Ability to communicate in English language is an essential and necessary part of the Innovator Visa application. The applicant may meet this requirement:

  • if he is a national of one of the English speaking Countries listed in the immigration rules.
  • or if he has completed at least UK Bachelors level qualification or above in one of the English Speaking countries
  • or if he has passed an approved English language test at CFER level B2
  • or if he has had leave under one of the following immigration categories:
    1. Start-up
    2. Innovator
    3. Tier 1 (General)
    4. Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)
    5. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012
    6. Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
    7. Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned on or after 21 April 2011

Maintenance requirements for Innovator Visa Application

In most circumstances the Innovator Visa Applicant will be required to demonstrate he has held £945 in his personal account or a joint account, for 90 days prior to the date of application.  This figure will increase for each dependent should they wish to bring family members to the UK. Please see below for more details about the requirements Dependents of Innovator Visa Migrants.  

Requirements for Innovator Team members

Two persons or more can form a team and apply under Innovator Visa route but both Innovator Visa team members must qualify in their own right i.e. having access to the required amount of funds, English language and maintenance. Both Innovator Visa team members them must have equal access to the funds and enjoy similar authority and control over the funds and the business. Both Innovator Visa team members will be able to sponsor their families as well. Each Innovator Visa team member would need to have funding of £50,000 of their own but may work together to get a single endorsement from the endorsement body.

 

Validity of Innovator Visa

The Innovator Visa is granted for 3 years and upon completion of 3 years, the applicant becomes eligible for indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Please see further details about indefinite leave to remain application in our separate article.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEPENDENTS OF INNOVATOR VISA APPLICANTS

Innovator Migrants are allowed to invite their spouses / partners and children under 18 years of age to join them as their dependants. Dependants of Innovator Migrants will be able to work in the UK. The Applicant must show that his/her dependents can be supported during their stay in the UK.

WHO CAN SWITCH TO INNOVATOR VISA?

Applicants having leave to remain under the following categories my switch to Innovator visa while remaining in the UK:

  • Tier 1 Start Up Visa
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur
  • Tier 2
  • Prospective Entrepreneur Visitor
INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN FOR INNOVATOR

Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) is the first goal of all immigrants which makes them free of all sorts of immigration control, work or study restrictions, residence restrictions, and also entitles them to take public funds. Here we will discuss about applying for ILR on the basis of having completed the required time period under Innovator Visa in compliance with the relevant immigration rules.

What are the requirements for ILR on the basis of Innovator Visa?

Upon completion of 3 years in the UK under Innovator Visa the applicants need to fulfil the following requirement:

  1. The Endorsement Body needs to confirm that:

(a) The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.

(b) The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.

(c) The business is active and trading.

(d) The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.

(e) The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

  1. The applicant’s business venture must meet at least two of the following requirements:

(i) At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.

(ii) The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.

(iii) The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.

(iv) The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.

(v) The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.

(vi) The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers. Each of those jobs must have been maintained for at least 12 months. A 30 hour per week job is considered to be a full time job. Two or more-part time jobs that add up to 30 hours per week may be combined to represent the equivalent of a single fulltime job, as long as each of the jobs has existed for at least 12 months. However, a single full-time job of more than 30 hours of work per week does not count as more than one full-time job.

(vii) The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).

If there are two or more applicants working for one business using the same endorsement of the endorsement body, each one of those applicants would need to fulfil the requirements separately. For example, if the applicants are relying on the creation of jobs then each one would need to provide evidences of two separate 10 jobs i.e. 20 jobs.

  1. Absence from the UK

The Innovator visa ILR applicants are allowed to have absences of a maximum of 180 days in a 12 month period counted backwards from the date of application. Exceptionally, the Home Office may also allow absences for more than 180 days in any 12 months period provided the applicant is able to provide evidence that the reason of those absences were because of life threatening illness of the applicant or a close family member or due to natural disaster.

  1. Koll Requirement for Innovator Visa Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK

English Language for Innovator ILR

You can prove English language requirements by having either:

  • an English qualification at B1 Level
  • a degree taught or researched in English
  • national of an English-speaking country

Life in the UK Test for Innovator ILR

Another important part of fulfilling the knowledge of language and life requires you to pass the Life in the UK test.

The test is required under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 and taken in order to test the knowledge of British life and sufficient proficiency in the English language.

ILR for Dependants of Innovator Visa Migrants

Spouse / Civil Partner / Unmarried Partner of the applicant and their children who are already on dependant visas, may also apply for ILR provided they also fulfil relevant criteria.

If the dependants have not completed the required time period then they would need to apply for further leave to remain application while the main applicant may proceed to apply for ILR.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW TO CHALLENGE REFUSAL OF INNOVATOR VISA

Since appeal rights have been taken away from most of the immigration categories, the applicants whose Innovator Visa entry clearance application or leave to remain application is refused, they are given right of administrative review to against refusal of Innovator Visa.

This is a procedure where the applicant is given an opportunity to challenge the refusal of Innovator Visa application by providing relevant arguments or documents in some cases.

It is mandatory for the Home Office to give reasons of refusal along with the notice of decision and to inform the applicant about their rights of administrative review. The reasons of refusal shall disclose all the issues / concerns of the Home Office which have been identified by the immigration or Visa officer on the basis of the information / documents provided by the applicant or the information already held on record by the Home Office.

Time Limit to Make Innovator Visa Administrative Review

The applicants are required to make Innovator visa administrative review application within 14 calendar days to the Home Office. It is really important to meet the deadline as otherwise the Home Office may reject the application unless exceptional reasons for the delay are provided.

Grounds of Administrative Review for Innovator Visa

One has to carefully consider and draft the grounds of Administrative Review for Innovator Visa on which he or she may rely in their administrative review applications. This is an opportunity for the applicant to address all the concerns and issues raised in the notice of decision and the reasons of refusal of the immigration application. It would also be useful to refer to the information or the documents already provided with the said application and highlighting any relevant sections and provide a detailed explanation addressing the issues.

Drafting grounds of administrative review for Innovator Visa refusal is a specialized area of immigration work and should therefore be left for the experts to handle it.

Outcome of Innovator Visa administrative review

Once Innovator Visa Administrative review is lodged, a different caseworker considers the grounds of Innovator Visa administrative review and may make one of the following decisions:

    1. He may overturn the original decision and issue visa to the applicant.
    2. He may maintain the original decision along with all the reasons of refusal; or
    3. He may maintain the original decision of refusal but may decide to withdraw one or more reasons of refusal; or
    4. He may maintain the decision but with different or additional reasons to those specified in the decision under review.

Effect of Innovator Visa Administration Review

The applicant’s leave to remain remains in place by virtue of paragraph 3C of the Immigration Act 1971, till the decision of the Innovator Visa administrative review provided he had valid leave to remain prior to making the relevant immigration application. He will not be eligible to make a fresh application whilst the decision on the Administrative Review is pending.

Further Options

If the decision maker maintains the decision of Innovator Visa application refusal, the applicant may make a fresh Innovator Visa application within 14 days from the date of refusal of administrative review or may also lodge Judicial Review proceedings if it is considered that both the decision maker of the original application and of the Administrative review application made an error in the consideration of the said applications.

Again, it is extremely important to seek professional help in making decision whether to make a fresh Innovator visa application or to proceed in the Judicial review against Innovator Visa refusal or to choose both, depending on the individual’s circumstances.

JUDICIAL REVIEW APPLICATION FOR REFUSAL OF INNOVATOR VISA APPLICATION

Since appeal rights have been taken away from most of the immigration categories, the applicants whose Innovator Visa entry clearance application or leave to remain application is refused, they are given right of administrative review to against refusal of Innovator Visa.

This is a procedure where the applicant is given an opportunity to challenge the refusal of Innovator Visa application by providing relevant arguments or documents in some cases.

It is mandatory for the Home Office to give reasons of refusal along with the notice of decision and to inform the applicant about their rights of administrative review. The reasons of refusal shall disclose all the issues / concerns of the Home Office which have been identified by the immigration or Visa officer on the basis of the information / documents provided by the applicant or the information already held on record by the Home Office.

Time Limit to Make Innovator Visa Administrative Review

The applicants are required to make Innovator visa administrative review application within 14 calendar days to the Home Office. It is really important to meet the deadline as otherwise the Home Office may reject the application unless exceptional reasons for the delay are provided.

Grounds of Administrative Review for Innovator Visa

One has to carefully consider and draft the grounds of Administrative Review for Innovator Visa on which he or she may rely in their administrative review applications. This is an opportunity for the applicant to address all the concerns and issues raised in the notice of decision and the reasons of refusal of the immigration application. It would also be useful to refer to the information or the documents already provided with the said application and highlighting any relevant sections and provide a detailed explanation addressing the issues.

Drafting grounds of administrative review for Innovator Visa refusal is a specialized area of immigration work and should therefore be left for the experts to handle it.

Outcome of Innovator Visa administrative review

Once Innovator Visa Administrative review is lodged, a different caseworker considers the grounds of Innovator Visa administrative review and may make one of the following decisions:

    1. He may overturn the original decision and issue visa to the applicant.
    2. He may maintain the original decision along with all the reasons of refusal; or
    3. He may maintain the original decision of refusal but may decide to withdraw one or more reasons of refusal; or
    4. He may maintain the decision but with different or additional reasons to those specified in the decision under review.

Effect of Innovator Visa Administration Review

The applicant’s leave to remain remains in place by virtue of paragraph 3C of the Immigration Act 1971, till the decision of the Innovator Visa administrative review provided he had valid leave to remain prior to making the relevant immigration application. He will not be eligible to make a fresh application whilst the decision on the Administrative Review is pending.

Further Options

If the decision maker maintains the decision of Innovator Visa application refusal, the applicant may make a fresh Innovator Visa application within 14 days from the date of refusal of administrative review or may also lodge Judicial Review proceedings if it is considered that both the decision maker of the original application and of the Administrative review application made an error in the consideration of the said applications.

Again, it is extremely important to seek professional help in making decision whether to make a fresh Innovator visa application or to proceed in the Judicial review against Innovator Visa refusal or to choose both, depending on the individual’s circumstances.

Why to instruct Chauhan Solicitors to advise on your Innovator Visa Application

We are a city law firm, specializing in UK Immigration matters. We are located in Central London, therefore conveniently accessible to Londoners and clients in other parts of the UK. Moreover, since all the UK immigration Applications can be submitted online, it has become easier for us to take instructions from anywhere in the world. We have been advising our clients successfully to apply for Innovator Visa

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