How to apply for an Innovator Visa

Becoming an entrepreneur is an exciting life milestone. Even more so if it involves starting a business in a new country.

In the UK, there is a thriving entrepreneur scene, but it’s not just for British people. If you’re from overseas and want to set up a business in the UK, there are ways to do that.

However, you will need to apply for a visa.

The Innovator Visa is an immigration route that has been set up for this very reason. It allows visa holders to move to the UK to launch a business, as long as certain conditions are met.

Keep reading to find out more about the Innovator Visa and what is needed to apply.

Innovator Visa

The Innovator Visa is still fairly new within UK immigration. It was introduced last year by the British government to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.

This visa is for people from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland that want to set up or run a business in the UK. For those within the EEA, a visa is currently not needed as the UK is still in the transition stage of Brexit (until the end of 2020).

So, what is needed to apply for the visa?

As the Innovator Visa involves setting up and running a business, funding is an essential part of the application.

To apply, you will have to show proof that you have at least £50,000 in investment funds for a new business, as well as enough money to support yourself. Although the £50,000 investment funds is not needed if the business is already established.

Plus, the business idea has to be new, original and innovative (hence the visa name), with potential for growth. It has to be different to anything else on the market. Again, you will have to provide evidence for this.

The application process

There are two key stages to being approved for an Innovator Visa; endorsement by an approved body and the official immigration application. The conditions for each stage are explained below.


  • Endorsement can only be granted by an organisation that has been approved by the British government
  • The endorsing body will assess whether the business idea meets the criteria for the visa, such as the business plan being realistic and achievable

For a full list of endorsing bodies, visit the government website here.

The list will give you a clearer idea about the types of businesses that can qualify for the visa. But you should only approach organisations that are relevant to your idea.

After receiving official endorsement, you can then move on to the immigration application.

To complete the application, you will need to include the following information:

  • Official endorsement letter
  • Proof of financial investment and/or maintenance funds for you and your family
  • Evidence of English language skills at level B2 or above
  • Criminal certificate for any country lived in for more than 12 months for the previous 10 years (this applies to all applicants and dependents over the age of 18)

The cost of applying for the Innovator Visa is £1,021, or £966 if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia. Then there is a fee of £1,021 for each additional dependent included in the application.

If you apply for the visa from outside of the UK, you should get a decision within three weeks.

How long can you stay in the UK?

For successful applicants, the Innovator Visa is valid for three years. After that time, it can be extended for another three years. There is also the option to apply for UK settlement, known as indefinite leave to remain.

Family members (partners and children under 18) can join Innovator Visa holders in the UK, but they have to be included on the initial application.

Innovation in the UK

Innovation in the UK is thriving and it’s a key focus for the British government when it comes to funding and investment.

Advanced technology is currently driving the UK innovation scene and the country is becoming a world-leader in the field. But it’s not the only sector that has scope for innovation.

Leaders in the manufacturing industry have been calling out for innovation as a way to attract the next generation of professionals.

Then there is eco-innovation and the healthcare industry. Both sectors have been identified as having potential for innovation and investment.

Retail-tech and sustainability are two more examples of sectors eager for innovation.

So, as you can see, there is a lot of potential for entrepreneurs. And applying for the Innovator Visa could take you a step closer to launching a business in the UK.


Article Created By Hayley Maguire

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