Tue | Jun 22, 2021

Immigration Corner | What is an Innovator Visa?

Published:Tuesday | June 11, 2019 | 12:17 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I would like to set up a unique business in the United Kingdom. I have been told that I may be able to get an Innovator visa. I am hoping that you can tell ne more about this type of visa.


Dear GC,

Persons can apply for an Innovator visa if they: want to set up or run a business in the United Kingdom; are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland; meet the other eligibility requirements; have a business or business idea that has been endorsed by an approved body.

Sharing Investment Funds

Persons must have at least £50,000 in investment funds if they want to set up a new business. They do not need investment funds if their business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa. Please note that funding can come from any source.

Persons can form a team with other Innovator applicants, but they cannot share the same investment funds. The team must have £50,000 for each Innovator applicant. For example, if there are two Innovator applicants, the team must have £100,000 to invest.

To get endorsed, persons must be able to show that their business idea is: a new idea, that is, they cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading; viable and with potential for growth. It is advisable that persons who would like to make this type of application read 'the endorsing bodies list' online and should only approach ones that are suitable for the type of business idea being advanced.

Persons can apply up to three months prior to travel and should expect to get a decision on their visa within three weeks. Persons should check 'the guide processing times' to ascertain how long getting a visa might take in a particular country.

With respect to how much fees an applicant will pay for an Innovator visa will depend on that person’s situation and where the application is made from.

If applying for yourself from outside the United Kingdom the cost is £1,021 or to extend or switch (in the UK) the cost is £1,277. The fees for applying for all dependents is the same cost as the applicant per person. Persons will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of their application. It is advisable to check how much it will cost prior to applying. Also, if applying to extend or switch in the United Kingdom persons will need to pay £19.20 to have their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

How long can the Person stay?

Persons can stay for three years if they go to the United Kingdom on an Innovator visa or switch to this visa from another visa. Persons can apply to extend for another three years when their visa is due to expire. Please note that there is no limit on the number of times persons can extend. Persons may be able to apply for settlement, this is known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’, once they have been in the United Kingdom for five years.

Please note that the visa may be cut short if the endorsement is withdrawn. If a person wants to stay longer, he/she must re-apply with a new endorsement before the current visa expires.

What a Person can and cannot do

A Person can:

• Set up a business or several businesses

• Work for their business - this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership

• Take family members with him/her

A Person cannot:

• Do any work outside of their business,

• Work as a doctor or dentist in training

• Work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach

• Get public funds


As stated above, before applyingpersons will need to have their business or business idea assessed by an approved body. The approving body will provide an endorsement letter if the business is viable.

The applicant must also:

• Meet the English language requirement

• Be at least 18 years old

• Be able to prove that he/she has enough personal savings to support him/her self while in the United Kingdom

The applicants must be able to support themselves. They will need to have had at least £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days before applying.

Please note that applicants cannot use money from the investment funds or money earned while working in the United Kingdom illegally to support themselves.

Good luck.

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: lawbassie@yahoo.com