Apply for a UK Innovator Visa from South Africa
The UK Innovator Visa is an immigration route available from international innovators, including those travelling from South Africa.
You can apply for this permit if you are interested in setting up or running your business in the UK. Your business idea must be endorsed by an approved British body. To be eligible, you must meet several requirements, and be a citizen of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
To find out more about the Tier 1 Innovator Visa and how to submit your application from South Africa, you can get in touch with our professional UK immigration attorneys. One of our specialists will review your case and help you explore your option to set up your business in the UK.
Tier 1 Innovator Visa eligibility requirements
Before you apply for a Tier 1 Visa for South Africans, you must ensure that you meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You must be aged 18 or old
- You need to meet the English language requirements
- You must prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while in the UK. You need to have at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you submit your application.
- You must intend to invest at least £50,000 in a new visa, which is potential for growth and has received an endorsement from an approved body
Innovator Visa business requirements
How to get endorsed
To have your business idea must be endorsed by a UK approved body, it must be:
- New, meaning that you cannot invest in a business which is already trading.
- Innovative, as the idea needs to be original.
- Viable, with solid potential for growth.
You must have at least £50.000 in investment funds to set up a new business. However, you do not need funds if either:
- The business you are investing in is already established or has received an endorsement for another visa.
- Your business plan or idea is changed and you have already agreed on it with the endorsing body.
Tier 1 Visa English language requirement for South African applicants
If you are applying for an Innovator Visa from South Africa, you must prove your English fluency. You can do this by either:
- Passing an approved English language test with a CEFR level B2 in writing, reading, speaking and listening.
- Showing proof of an academic qualification that was taught or researched in English. This must be recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you have already met this requirement in an earlier successful application to the Home Office (for example, if you are applying for an Innovator Visa from within the UK).
Applying from an Innovator Visa from South Africa
You can apply for a Tier 1 Visa from South Africa online.
Once you have submitted your application, you must book an appointment to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at your nearest visa application centre.
If your application is successful, you will need to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days from the date you intend to enter the UK.
To receive complete assistance with your application, you can get in touch with one of our UK immigration attorneys. With our Application Package, you can entrust your case with one of our UK immigration specialists, who will follow you through each step of this process and ensure that your business is eligible to receive an endorsement. Call us today to find out more about our services.
Innovator Visa supporting documents
Along with your application forms, you must provide the following documents to demonstrate that you are eligible for an Innovator Visa for South African citizens:
- The endorsement letter, to demonstrate that your business idea has been approved by a qualified body.
- Your current passport (with at least one blank page), or another valid travel identification.
- A recent bank statement, showing that you have had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 days before your application.
- Proof of your English fluency.
- Evidence of your investment funds, if you are setting up a new business.
All documents which are not written in English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation.
Tier 1 Visa validity
If your application is successful, you will be granted leave to remain in the UK for 3 years. At the end of this period, you can apply to extend your permit for another 3 years.
As a general rule, there is no limit to the number of times you can renew your visa, provided that you keep meeting the eligibility criteria.
Once you have been living in the UK for 3 years under specific circumstances, you may be able to settle in this country and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain for South African citizens.
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You can submit your Innovator Visa application from South Africa 3 months before the date you intend to travel to the UK.
You should get a decision from the Home Office within 3 weeks when applying from outside the UK.
It costs £1,021 to apply for a Tier 1 Innovator Visa from South Africa or any other country outside the UK.
If you are applying with your dependents, you will be charged an additional £1,021 for each person you are including in your application.
Yes, you can form a team of innovators with other applicants from your country. However, you cannot share the same investment funds. This means that you must have £50,000 for each applicant.
If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa may be curtailed. If you wish to stay in the UK longer, you must re-apply for another endorsement before your current Tier 1 Innovator Visa expires.
You can apply for an Innovator Visa extension before your current visa expires, provided that:
- You still meet the eligibility requirements for South African applicants
- Your business is still running in the UK, or you wish to set up a new one. If you plan to run a new business, you must have £50,000 in investment funds and a new endorsement for an approved body.
You can still include any dependants in your Innovator Visa extension application, including any children who have turned 18 during your first stay in the UK.