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Innovator Visa

International entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in a business in the UK can apply for an Innovator Visa. To be eligible, applicants must receive endorsement from an approved endorsing body and have at least £50,000 to invest in their business.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone
consultation on 020 3951 8832 or complete our enquiry form
to discuss your UK spouse visa.

Innovator Visa Application

The UK Innovator Visa was created in April 2019, replacing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. The Innovator Visa route is designed for experienced business people who seek to start a business in the UK. Applicants need a minimum of £50,000 to invest in the business, and their business proposal must be endorsed by an endorsing body.

The Innovator Visa lasts for three years and can be extended for a further three years. In some cases, Innovator Visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status after just three years of lawful residency in the UK.

What is the Difference Between an Innovator Visa and a Start Up Visa?

The Start Up Visa is another type of visa for entrepreneurs. However, this visa is for less experienced entrepreneurs who are classed as high potential.

Start Up Visa Innovator Visa
Applicants do not need funds to invest in their business Applicants need at least £50,000 to invest in their business
Must not have previously set up a business in the UK Eligible if set up business in the UK in the past
Successful applicants can stay in the UK for two years Successful applicants can stay in the UK for three years
Can bring family members Can bring family members
Can take on work outside of their business to support themselves Cannot undertake any work outside of business ventures
Visa cannot be extended Visa can be extended

What are the Financial Requirements?

As well as the requirements for investment funds, applicants must also have at least £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days before they apply for the Innovator Visa.

You cannot prove this requirement through your investment funds, or through money earned through illegal employment in the UK.

What is the English Language Requirement?

Any Innovator Visa applicant will need to prove they meet a B2 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). Bear in mind that citizens of most native English-speaking countries will be exempt from this requirement.

You will not need to fulfil any English language requirements if you:

  • Hold a degree or higher qualification taught in English which is recognised by the UK NARIC
  • Already hold a CEFR B2 level certificate in reading, writing, speaking and listening

Also, citizens of the following countries will not need to fulfil this requirement:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

All other Innovator Visa applicants will need to pass a B2 English language test in reading, writing, speaking and listening from an approved test provider to be eligible for the Innovator Visa.

How Much is the Innovator Visa Application?

The cost of a UK Innovator Visa depends on where you apply from and your specific situation.

Who? Standard Application Extend or Switch
You £1,021 £1,277
You (from Turkey or Macedonia) £966 £1,222
Dependents £1,021 per person £1,277 per person

UK Innovator Visa Eligibility

Anyone who wishes to start a business in the UK under an Innovator Visa will need to meet certain requirements.

To be eligible for the Innovator Visa, you must:

  • Be from outside the EEA and Switzerland
  • Be at least 18-years-old
  • Have at least £50,000 to invest if you want set up a new business
  • Have a business idea which has been endorsed by an approved body. (The endorsement must not have been withdrawn prior to the Home Office’s consideration of the application)
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Meet certain personal financial requirements

Multiple applicants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company, but each applicant still needs to be able to demonstrate that they have £50,000 to invest.

What are the Innovator Visa Requirements?

As alluded to above, there are a number of requirements which an Innovator Visa applicant will need to fulfil in order for their application to be accepted.

Business Proposal

Your business proposal will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Innovation. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have a genuine and original business plan which meets a new or existing market need, and will provide benefit to the British economy and workforce. (An applicant cannot join or invest in a business which is already trading)
  • Viability. The applicant needs to prove they have the necessary skills, knowledge and market awareness to successfully run the business
  • Scalability. The applicant will need to show that there is potential for job creation and growth

Innovator Visa Endorsing Bodies

One of the key Innovator Visa requirements is to have your business idea approved by an endorsing body. Before you start your Innovator Visa application, you must have an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body.

Endorsement bodies review the applicant’s business proposal and determine whether it meets the three key business proposal requirements, as mentioned above.

If the endorsement body approves the business proposal, an endorsement letter will be written and sent to the Home Office, with detailed information about the applicant and their business proposal.

Endorsing bodies must be able to demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs (unless a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own proven track record).

The endorsing body must explain in the letter whether they are providing the investment funds, or whether the applicant has the investment funds available to them and is ready to invest in the business (or has already done so).

A full list of business endorsing bodies can be found here. For more information on the business proposal endorsement, call us now on 020 3951 8832.

How Long Can I Stay in the UK Under an Innovator Visa?

If your application is approved, you can stay in the UK for three years.

At the end of the three years you will be able to extend your visa if you still meet the eligibility requirements and are still running a business in the UK, or want to start a new one.

If your business has already been endorsed in your original Innovator Visa application, you do not need to have £50,000 in investment funds to renew your Innovator Visa.

Also, you will need to include any dependents who are on your current Innovator visa in the Innovator Visa extension application.