In March 2019, the Innovator route was introduced to allow individuals to come to the UK in order to set up and run innovative businesses. As the route approaches its three-year anniversary, Innovators can now look to make their applications for settlement.
Innovators will become eligible for settlement, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain, after having spent three years with permission under this route. We explore the other requirements that should be considered in the lead up to the settlement application, so as to ensure success.
Validity and suitability requirements
As with applications for settlement under most UK immigration routes, individuals applying under the Innovator route, will need to meet the general validity and suitability requirements.
Each applicant must:
- be in the UK on the date of application;
- apply on the correct form;
- pay the correct application fee;
- provide their biometric details; and
- satisfactorily establish their identity and nationality with a passport or other travel document.
The applicant must not be in breach of immigration laws nor on immigration bail and it will be assessed whether they fall for refusal under Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.
In addition to these more general requirements, the Innovator must have, or last been granted, permission on the Innovator route. They must also have an endorsement letter from an endorsing body dated no more than three months prior to the date of application.
Before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain under this route, each applicant must demonstrate to their endorsing body that they have grown their business.
In support of the settlement application, each individual will then need to provide a letter from their endorsing body, which confirms all of the following:
- details of the endorsing body and of an individual at the endorsing body who will, if required, verify the contents of the letter;
- the applicant’s personal details;
- a description of the business including the main products and/or services being provided;
- the applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement;
- the applicant’s business is registered with Companies House, the applicant is listed as a director/member of that business and that the business is still active and trading;
- the business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months;
- the applicant has an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business; and
- the applicant’s business venture has met at least two of the Innovator settlement success criteria.
Settlement success criteria
To be successful in applying for settlement under this route, an applicant must have demonstrated to their endorsing body that at least two of the following criteria have been met:
- at least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan;
- the number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services;
- the business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK;
- the business has generated a minimum annual revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts;
- the business is generating a minimum annual revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas;
- the business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for settled workers;
- the business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for settled workers, each of which has a mean salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).
These criteria are onerous and will require significant focus by the Innovator. As such, it is important that the criteria are taken into consideration from the outset, as soon as the individual has gained permission under this route, so that appropriate plans can be put in place. This will help to ensure the applicant will eventually qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
When they made their initial application under this route, individuals who were granted permission as Innovators on the basis of the ‘new business’ requirements (but not the ‘same business’ requirements), will have had to demonstrate that they had at least £50,000 to invest in their business, or had already invested that amount. As such, the first success criteria is likely to be the easiest to meet in the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Further eligibility requirements
In addition, as in other routes to settlement in the UK, individuals applying under the Innovator route will need to demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.
Further, during the three years’ qualifying residence period, all applicants must ensure they meet the continuous residence requirement. This means that they should have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period prior to the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
How our immigration solicitors can assist
If you require legal advice on an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, our immigration specialists are always happy to have an initial discussion, please contact us, or complete the enquiry form below.