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UK Innovators Visa

The innovators category has now closed to new candidates. If you want to come to the UK to work or invest, or you are already here in another immigration type and want to extend your stay, you now need to apply under Tier 1 of our points-based system.


The information in this section is only related to you if you are already in the UK under the innovators scheme and now want to apply to live here permanently (settlement).


Innovators and entrepreneurs
The aim of this scheme is to attract to the UK exceptional entrepreneurs from overseas whose business suggestions will result in exceptional financial benefits for the Unite Kingdom. It is mostly designed for those specializing in modern areas, in science and technology based sectors. A successful candidate, therefore, will normally have not only an entrepreneurial track record or evidence of potential but also technical skills. The successful business proposal will aid the development of e-commerce and other new technologies in the United Kingdom.


All applications for entry in this category are a mandatory referral to Business Case Unit in the Home Office.
Previous entry clearance is mandatory.


Entry Requirements
The requirements to be met by a person looking for entry clearance as an innovator are that the candidate:

  • Is approved by the Home Office as a person who meets the criteria specified by the Secretary of State for entry under the Innovator Scheme at the time that approval is sought under that scheme;
  • Intends to set-up a business that will create full-time paid employment for at least two person already settled in the UK;
  • Intends to sustain a minimum 5 percent shareholding of the equity capital in that business, once it has been set up, throughout the period of his/her stay as an innovator; and
  • Will be able to sustain and accommodate him/her and any other dependants sufficiently without recourse to public funds or other employment.

If these requirements are met, the Business Case Unit at Work Permits (UK) will assess the individual application with a points system. To meet the criteria the candidates must get enough points. The acceptance criteria are rigorous and a self-assessment form, based on a points system, should greatly assist prospective candidates to assess whether they are likely to qualify as an Innovator. Although not necessary to do so, prospective candidates should be encouraged to complete the self-assessment form before proceeding with their application to ensure that they meet the minimum score for qualification. Completing the self-assessment will also speed up processing of applications.


Processing applications at Post
 candidates should complete a visa application form VAF1 and, if they choose to do so, the self-assessment form. ECOs should check that the documentation requested in the VAF1 is attached along with any other supporting documents associated with the self-assessment form. ECOs are not expected to assess in detail the merits of the application although they should point out to the candidate any clear inadequacies in the documentation provided and offer them the opportunity to rectify them.


Candidates may travel to the UK for other purposes (e.g. visit) while their application is being considered but they will not be allowed to switch status in the UK if their Innovator application is successful. Applicants will be required to leave the UK to obtain the proper entry clearance.


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