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Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator

With the Innovator Route now open, experienced businesspersons seeking to establish a business in the UK may already be thinking about the requirements for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator.  In our previous posts we have have outlined how to enter or switch into the Innovator category.  In this post we address what Innovators need to do in order to qualify for settlement (ILR) after 3 years in the Innovator visa category

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as an Innovator: General Requirements

In order to qualify for ILR as an Innovator, you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that: 

  • Your last grant of leave was in the Innovator category;
  • You have sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom under Appendix KoLL;
  • You are not in the UK in breach of immigration laws;
  • You do not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
  • You meet the continuous residence requirement.

Continuous residence

In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator you will need to spend 3 years in the Innovator category.  Time spent in the Start-up category will not be counted towards this 3 year requirement.  Absences from the UK will not break the continuous period provided they total 180 days or less during any consecutive 12 months.

ILR as an Innovator: Endorsement

For the Innovator category, endorsement by an endorsing body is required both at the initial application stage and again when applying for settlement.  By the next endorsement you will need to demonstrate enough progress in your business to meet the settlement criteria.  For guidance on endorsing bodies please refer to our previous blog posts.

In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator, you will need to meet all of the following conditions to show progress:

  • You must show significant achievements (see below), judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement;
  • Your business must be registered with Companies House and you must be listed as a director or member of that business;
  • Your business must be active and trading;
  • Your business must appear to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses;
  • You must demonstrate an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

To demonstrate your achievements, you will need to meet at least 2 of the following criteria:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement;
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers;
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses);
  • 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 gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts;
  • The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.

Settlement as an Innovator: Job creation

As with the previous entrepreneur rules, if you rely on job creation for settlement then there are additional specifications for the jobs created.  However, unlike the entrepreneur rules, creating jobs is not mandatory if at least two other criteria can be met.

  • Each of the jobs must have existed for at least 12 months and comply with all relevant UK legislation, including (but not limited to) the National Minimum Wage Regulations in effect at the time and the Working Time Regulations 1998;
  • Each of the jobs must involve an average of at least 30 hours of paid work per week. 2 or more-part time jobs that add up to 30 hours per week may be combined to represent the equivalent of a single full-time job, as long as each of the jobs has existed for at least 12 months. However, a single full-time job of more than 30 hours of work per week does not count as more than 1 full- time job.

By ‘jobs’, the guidance refers to posts filled, rather than number of employees. If a single job has been filled for over 12 months by different employees at different times, this counts as the job having existed for at least 12 months.

If you founded your business as part of an Innovator team and you are both applying for endorsement for settlement, then you cannot share the same means for meeting the criteria above.  For example, if 2 applicants are both relying on the requirement to have created 10 jobs, 20 jobs must have been created in total.

If your application for endorsement is successful, you will need to submit your letter of endorsement with your application to the Home Office.  

Contact our Innovator Settlement Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with an application for settlement as an Innovator, contact our business immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 917 or via our enquiry form below.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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