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Can I Apply for an Innovator Visa from Inside or Outside the UK?

For most prospective migrants, the rules regarding UK visa applications can appear complex and confusing. It is for this reason that the Home Office in 2020 confirmed that it was in the process of “reviewing, simplifying and consolidating the [immigration] Rules”. As a result, there is now greater consistency and clarity regarding such matters as whether it is possible to switch visas ‘in-country'. One question we are often asked is whether it is possible to apply for a specific inside or outside the UK. Often the process, forms, and timescales can vary depending on where an application is made from, further adding to the confusion experienced by entrepreneurs, investors, business people, and skilled workers wishing to come to the UK. In this article, we will take a look at the UK Innovator visa, whether this can be applied for inside or outside of the UK, and the process for making an application.

What Is The UK Innovator Visa?

The UK government is extremely keen to encourage the establishment of highly innovative businesses and start-ups. The Innovator visa enables overseas entrepreneurs to come to the UK to do precisely this. As the Home Office guidance states, the Innovator visa is for individuals who “want to set up and run an innovative business in the UK - it must be something that’s different from anything else on the market”. The visa allows holders to remain for up to three years, at which point they can apply for a further three-year extension. One of the most attractive features of the Innovator visa is that after three years, they may be able to acquire permanent settlement in the UK; this is shorter than the normal five years required for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

In order to make a successful application for an Innovator visa, applicants need to have their business idea and plan endorsed by an endorsing body in the UK. The endorsing body will take a close look at your plans, and based on their expert knowledge of your sector and business market, they will assess whether it is genuinely innovative and is likely to be viable. As such, they must be satisfied that your business idea has a real potential for growth in the UK.

Can I Apply From Inside Or Outside The UK?

Applicants for an Innovator can apply from within the UK or outside, depending on their circumstances. This means that if they are already in the UK on another visa type, they can make an application without needing to leave the country, but only if they do not have one of the following types of immigration status currently:

What Are The Eligibility Criteria For An Innovator Visa?

To make a successful Innovator visa application, you will need to prove to the Home Office that you:

  • Are over 18 years old
  • Meet the English language proficiency requirement (i.e. that you can read, write, speak and understand English to a level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale, you have a degree which was taught in English, or you are from an exempt country).
  • Have enough money to support yourself in the UK (you will only need to show you have £1,270 in your bank account 28 days before applying to satisfy this requirement)
  • You have a minimum of £50,000 to invest into your new innovative venture in the UK – it is possible to form an investment team with another Innovator visa applicant, but you cannot use the same funds (e.g. if there are two investors, you will need a combined investment fund of £100,000).

Crucially, you will need to secure an endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsing body – you will need to provide a copy of your letter of endorsement with your application.

How Can I Apply For An Innovator Visa?

To apply for an Innovator visa, regardless of your location, you must first ensure you meet the eligibility criteria and then secure endorsement for your business plans. Once you are ready, you will need to complete the online application form on the Home Office website; the form you need to complete depends on whether you are in the UK or outside.

Once your application form has been submitted, you will need to prove your identity. This can be done by either:

  • having your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre - this is to get a biometric residence permit
  • using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document - you’ll also create or sign in to your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

You will be advised which identity method to use when you apply.

As part of the application process online, you will need to pay the application fee of £1,021 (if outside the UK) or £1,277 (if inside the UK) – these fees are the same for your dependant family members. If you are from an EU country, your application fee may be reduced by £55. You will also need to pay for the immigration healthcare surcharge for the duration of your visa (this is currently £624 per person per year). In addition, there is a small fee of £19.20 to cover the costs of having your biometric information scanned and processed (this is required for your biometric residence permit, which provides proof of residency in the UK).

Summing Up

If you have a strong, unique business idea that is viable and likely to be sustainable, in addition to the required investment funds, your application should have a strong chance of being approved. As immigration Solicitors based in London, we regularly assist with Innovator visa applications, enabling applicants to focus on preparing their business plans and making contacts in the UK in readiness to establish their new enterprise.


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O.L

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I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

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"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

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"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

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"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

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"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

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"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

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"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

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Top Notch Immigration Service

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"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

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Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

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"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

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"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

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