If you are hoping to make long-term plans to live in the UK, then an innovator visa might be the best option for you to eventually get British citizenship if you are a business owner.
What is an innovator visa?
If you have plans to set up any kind of business when you move to the UK, then the innovator visa may be right for you. The innovator visa allows for people from Switzerland and non-EEA countries to move to the UK to start or progress their business. Since the 29th March 2019, it has replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route.
The requirements for the innovator visa include that all applicants must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be able to speak English to the desired requirement
- Have had at least £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days
- Have been endorsed by an approved and regulated UK body
- Be able to prove that they have a genuine, original business plan
- Have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to successfully run the business
- Provide evidence of structural planning and potential for growth of the business
Additionally, you must also be able to prove that you have at least £50,000 in investment funds. Two individuals can’t share the investment funds, even if they are part of the same business.
The visa is valid for three years, and it can then be extended for a further three years on top of that. There is no limit on how many times you can extend your innovator visa. It can be applied for on its own, or as a leave extension of someone who has been in the UK on a start-up visa for two years.
After five years of continuous residence in the UK under the innovator visa, you may be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, and then eventually permanent residence and British citizenship.
Applying for British Citizenship
After you have been living in the UK for at least five years, you can apply for permanent settlement – also known as indefinite leave to remain. Furthering this, after you have been granted your indefinite leave to remain, you will likely be able to apply for British Citizenship. The requirements for a British Citizenship application are:
- Being aged 18 or over
- Being considered of ‘good character’ – this means that you cannot have a recent or serious criminal record, you have not attempted to deceive the Home Office, and you haven’t committed immigration offences in the last ten years
- That you are planning to continue to live in the UK following reception of your citizenship
- You have met the English Language and Life in the UK test requirements
- You have met certain residency requirements
You will also have to prove that:
- You have lived legally in the UK for at least five consecutive years before the date of your application
- You have spent no more than 450 days outside of the UK in the last year
- You have spent no more than 90 days outside of the UK in the last year
- If you are from outside the European Economic Area, you have been settled in the UK with indefinite leave to remain for the next year at least
- You’ve held permanent residence status for the past year if you’re a citizen of an EEA country
- You have no broken any immigration laws while you have been living in the UK, whether you’re from inside or outside the EEA
It is also possible for you to apply for your own British citizenship on the basis of your spouse being a British citizen, if you entered the UK on a spouse visa originally.
Sometimes, visa matters can seem complex and confusing. The right UK immigration lawyers can help you to make sure that your case is sorted swiftly and smoothly.