The UK Innovator Visa was created for experienced professionals looking to expand their business acumen to the UK. Applicants can establish their own business, or invest in an existing UK-based business, including innovative startups slated for expansive growth. To help potential investors better understand the UK Innovator Visa process, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 questions associated with this program below:
1. What is the role of the Endorsement Body?
The endorsing body verifies whether a business is likely to be successful or not based on UK’s Home Office strict criteria of Innovative, Viable and Scalable business. This qualification is hard to achieve, and as a result a high proportion of businesses do not qualify for endorsement.
2. Is the Endorsement Body a government organization?
No. Endorsing bodies are appointed business and finance specialists, consultants, venture capitalists and business incubators. Endorsing bodies can only be appointed by the UK government under strict guidelines.
3. Do Endorsement Bodies have fixed fees?
No, the fee structure varies widely. The three typical options are: no fee, specific fee, or large equity stake in your business instead of a fee. Some are very sector-specific, some don’t accept you unless you’ve been through their business incubator program, some will accept you if your business is not innovative enough. We will advise on the Endorsement Body fees once you are ready to proceed further with your Innovator visa application.
4. What are the steps to apply for the Innovator visa?
The first step is to perform an evaluation based on your skills and get matched with several high-value businesses. Once you decide which business you want to become a co-founder of and invest in, we issue our engagement letter which finalizes the deal. We then collate all the required legal documents from you such as photo ID, proof of address, proof of funds, etc.
5. How much time does the process take?
Normally about 4-6 weeks. However, with the current COVID situation, applications are taking about 8-12 weeks. We suggest starting the process now so that when the UK Home Office gets back up to full functionality you will be at the front of the line. Acting now will also secure your investment into your preferred business.
6. What is the meaning of a pre-endorsed business?
A business that has already proven to be Innovative, Viable and Scalable.
Innovation: The applicant has an original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
Viability: The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications to run the business successfully.
Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
Once approved, the endorsing body will issue an endorsement letter that the applicant will use to support his/her visa application.
7. If we are choosing a pre-endorsed business, why do we require endorsement?
You also require endorsement as an individual that confirms you meet the skills required to make your business investment a success.
8. If I invest in a business, are they going to share profits with me?
Yes. Just like a normal business investment using equity capital. All the businesses we raise capital for are high-value high growth businesses with a proven business model.
9. What will my equity be dependent upon and is it a fixed percentage?
The level of equity is negotiable and dependent on the level of investment made. The higher the investment, the higher the equity. You have several exit options as well when you achieve ILR through the success of the business.
- You can maintain your investment and continue to grow the business
- You can sell all or part of your equity back to the business
- You can increase your investment and equity stake in the business
10.Will I be employed by the business?
You will enter the business as a co-founder, investor and shareholder, and therefore be technically employed by the business. In some instances, investors can take a salary, but this is not always the case with start-up businesses. A salary is entirely dependent upon the level of investment you are making and the level of equity available.