Innovator Visa Guide




The innovator visa category is for more experienced business people seeking to establish a business in the UK.

  • You are at least 18 years old, but NO previous qualifications required.

  • Applications for Innovator visas can be made from outside the UK, but it is also possible to switch into the Innovator visa category from within the UK if you were last granted leave to remain as a Start-up, Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Tier 2 General or Tier 2 ICT Skilled Worker or Prospective Entrepreneur.

  • Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany or join you as your dependant(s)

  • You must have at least £50,000 available to invest in your UK business or have already invested £50,000 in your UK business (this requirement is waived if switching from the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up category to pursue the same business venture or extending as an existing Innovator to pursue the same business venture and, in both cases, you have shown significant achievements judged against your business plan);

  • If applying to set up a new business venture, you must be endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body. You do not need to be the sole founder of your business and you may be a member of an innovator team. However, each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body. Innovator team members that are required to satisfy the investment funds requirement for a new business endorsement also cannot share the same £50,000 but must instead have at least £50,000 investment funds each.

  • If applying to continue the same business venture as in your initial application, you must be endorsed by endorsing body that it is satisfied that you have shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement, you are registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, your business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months, you have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business ventures.

  • If the £50,000 is held in an account in your name it must have been held for a minimum of 3 consecutive months. If the Investment is coming from a third party organisation with less or more than 10 employees or an individual third party either in the UK or overseas, different considerations apply and the 3 month rule is disapplied.

  • Your endorsement letter must not be issued more than 3 months before the date of your Innovator visa application.

  • You must be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking), unless you have a UK degree or its equivalent (NARIC recognised) or you are a national of a majority English speaking country or you held previous visas in certain specified categories.

  • You must have at least £945 of available funds to support yourself (and £630 for any dependants) without relying on public funds, held for a consecutive 90 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance on the statement), ending no more than 31 days before the date of their application, unless the endorsing body confirms in the endorsement letter that it has awarded the amount of maintenance funding to you. Evidence must be in the form of cash funds held in an account (this includes savings accounts and current accounts, even when notice must be given). If you supply evidence of multiple accounts (on which you are named), you can take the closing balance of the account that most favours you - as long as it ends no earlier than 31 days before the date of application - and use any other monies from any other accounts to make up the funds required. If the money is in a joint account, your name must be on the account along with one or more other named individual.

  • Your initial Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years. It is possible to extend an Innovator visa for periods of 3 years at a time. There is no maximum time limit in the category.

  • You will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) after spending 3 years in the Innovator visa category.

  • As an Innovator visa holder you will not be permitted take any employment other than working for the business or businesses that you have established.

  • You will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body with checkpoints at 6, 12 and 24 months after your application is successful. The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress in relation to either your original or a new business idea that is innovative, scalable and viable. Your endorsement may be withdrawn and your leave curtailed if this is not the case.

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