Have you got a business idea to fill a gap in the UK market and want to make it a reality? The Innovator Visa could be what it takes to start your business in the UK. 

Pakistan and the UK have a long history of collaboration. As one of the largest nations of origin for the UK’s existing immigrant population, the UK is keen to strengthen that bond. By offering the Innovator Visa to attract Pakistani entrepreneurs who have the talent, the UK hopes to create more employment.

Thanks to the team for the guest blog. You can learn more about Startup Visa and Endorsing bodies in our recent piece from Boardroom Advisors.

The Innovator Visa

The UK is looking to welcome the best and the brightest to live and work there. This includes opportunities for the best of entrepreneurs too. If you have the expertise and the will to succeed, then the Innovator Visa is for you.

The Innovator Visa is a 3-year visa for business founders and their families. It offers a route to UK permanent residence for those that wish to stay and is open to more than one founder per business. The Innovator Visa replaces the Tier 1 visa with some small changes that make it easier for you to benefit from, some of which are mentioned in this article.

How can you qualify?

Applications are done online via the government website. As with all visas, there are conditions that applicants have to meet to qualify. Some of these conditions apply to the business and some apply to you. 

Before you apply, you have to gain the approval of an Endorsing Body. This is the largest change from the old Tier 1. These bodies will all have their own specialisations and means to contact them. When making any important decision for your business, it is always best to do your research, and the choice of Endorsing Body is no different.

Once you have found the right Endorsing Body for you, they will go through their approved process to check your eligibility and give you the go ahead. All documents for your application should be ready when you meet the Endorsing Body.

The application will cost £1,021 plus the same for every family member added. Additional costs may be required for the endorsement including healthcare surcharge, verification of your identity, or simply the gaining of accredited translations of documents. These will depend on the specifics of your application. 

Conditions for application

For businesses

Your business will be assessed to see if it meets the three main criteria for endorsement:

  • Innovative

The UK is looking for new businesses that expand the market. If a company already operating in the UK is doing it, then an innovative approach is required.

  • Viable

Like when seeking investment, the UK has to be satisfied that you have what it takes to succeed and make profit. This includes having the capital to get started when you arrive. You need to prove that your business has at least £50,000 of funds secured per applicant (not including dependants). 

  • Scalable

The visa is for businesses that can create jobs in the UK. A business has to be able to scale up and grow into national and international markets.

For entrepreneurs

The people leading a business are key to its success, and they must qualify too.

  • Applicants must be over 18, but dependents can be minors. Each entrepreneur applying under the same company has to meet these standards individually. 
  • You need to be able to support yourself while you establish the business. You will need to show that you have had at least £1,270 in your personal bank account for 28 consecutive days before applying. This amount changes if any dependents apply with you and must be separate to the business’ funds.
  • Applicants need to be able to use English to a satisfactory level. They should be able to prove that they meet at least a level B2 on the CEFR scale. This can be done with an accredited exam, by holding at least a GCSE or equivalent qualification from a UK school earned as a minor, or by holding a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English. 
  • Applicants from Pakistan also need to provide a certificate declaring them free from tuberculosis. The test must be completed within 6 months before arriving in the UK.

What is an Endorsing Body?

Instead of assessing applicants themselves, the Home Office licences a number of UK companies to endorse the business that seeks an Innovator Visa. These businesses are trusted due to their success, the expertise of their boards, and the quality of their assessment process. 

Endorsing Bodies come from a range of industries and each have their own variations on what they provide. All of them will oversee your initial application and provide monitoring while you are there. Businesses that hold the Innovator Visa have to attend regular reviews to maintain their endorsement.

Some Endorsing Bodies will provide extra support. Some offer expert advice as part of your reviews while others can help put you in touch with their many business contacts. All you need to do is find the right one for you.

Ben Oliver

Ben is our Social Media Manager, he oversees all the content that goes out on our channels, including the latest articles, interviews and events to keep you updated with everything tech in the South West.