- Innovator Visa eligibility
- Funds required to get your visa
- Meeting the English language requirement
- Required supporting documents
- Applying for a UK Innovator Visa
- Innovator Visa validity
- Applying for an Innovator Visa extension
- Application fees
- Switching to this visa from another permit
- Travelling to the UK with your family
- Innovator Visa application process
- Dependent visa for your family members
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the UK Innovator Visa?
If you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you want to set up or run your business in the UK, you can apply for an Innovator Founder visa.
This immigration route is for experienced businesspersons who are willing to invest at least £50,000 to establish their business in the UK, and have had their business plan endorsed by an accredited body. To be eligible, your project must be innovative, viable and show the potential for job creation and growth.
The Innovator Founder Visa replaces the Innovator and start-up visa routes, becoming the most popular visa route for entrepreneurs looking to build their businesses in the UK. This visa replaces the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category, which was closed on 29th March 2019.
To find out more about the Innovator Founder visa, or if you need the help of an immigration professional to apply for innovator visa, you can get in touch with our team by calling us on 0121 667 6530
Who is eligible for an Innovator Visa?
Eligible international innovators must:
- Have their business plan assessed by an endorsing body
- Meet the English language requirement
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have enough personal savings to support themselves while in the UK
How much money do I need to apply for an Innovator Visa?
To be eligible for this visa, you must have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you submit your application form. To support yourself, you cannot use one of the following:
- Money from your investment funds
- Money earned while working in the UK illegally
- Money from shared investment funds
How do I meet the English knowledge requirement?
Eligible UK Innovator Visa applicants may need to prove their knowledge of the English language to meet innovator visa requirements. To this end, you can either:
- Pass an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in writing, reading, speaking and listening
- Having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you have already proved it in an earlier successful application, or if you are a national of an English-speaking country.
What are the UK Innovator Visa required supporting documents?
When applying for this visa category, you must provide a bundle of documents to demonstrate your eligibility, and which must include:
- An endorsement letter from an approved body that has assessed your business idea
- Your passport or other valid travel identification
- Bank statements showing that you have and at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before your application
- Proof that you meet the English language requirements
- Your tuberculosis test results (if applicable)
You will also need to provide a certified translation of any document that is not in English or Welsh.
How do I apply for a UK Innovator Visa?
You can apply online. If your application is successful, you will need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre to get a biometric residence permit.
Your biometric residence permit must be collected within 10 days of the date you intend to enter the UK.
What is the Innovator Visa validity?
If you hold an Innovator Visa, you can stay in the UK for 3 years. After this time, you can apply to extend your permit for another 3 years. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply to renew your immigration status as an international innovator.
The same rules apply if you are switching to this visa from another category. You may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK once you have been in this country on this immigration status for 3 years.
Innovator Visa Endorsement
To start the innovator founder application process, you need endorsement from an authorised body. These bodies, listed on the Home Office website, include Envestors Limited, UK Endorsing Services, Innovator International, and The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP). If you applied for the innovator visa scheme before 13 April 2023, the previous endorsing bodies can still endorse you, but only for the same business idea as your previous application.
Settling in the UK on Innovator Visa
Visa holders can settle in the UK on this visa route, and the time accrued on an Innovator visa will count towards UK settlement requirements.
How do I apply for an Innovator Visa extension?
You need to apply for a UK Innovator Visa extension before your current permit expires. To be eligible for a renewal, you must submit your application online and:
- Keep meeting the eligibility requirements
- Be still running a business in the UK or intend to set a new one (provided that you have £50,000 in investment funds to set up a new business)
You do not need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body to extend your stay in the UK. It will take up to 8 weeks to get your decision from the Home Office.
What are the UK Innovator Visa fees?
It costs £1,036 to apply for an Innovator Visa from outside the UK. This does not include a further fee of £19.20 to have your biometric information taken.
If you are already in the UK and you wish to extend your Innovator Visa or switch to this permit from another immigration status, you will be charged £1,292.
The same fees apply for each member of your family you wish to include in your application as your dependant.
In addition, you will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge, which amount depends on your personal circumstances.
Can I switch to this visa from another immigration status?
You may be able to switch to an Innovator Visa if you currently hold one of the following permits:
- UK Start-up Visa
- Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
- Entrepreneur Visa
- Any T2 visa
- Standard Visitor Visa provided that you came in the UK to get the funding necessary to set up your business and you already hold a supporting letter from an endorsing body
If you are on a different visa type, you may still be able to change your status into an Innovator Visa. However, you may need to first leave the UK and submit your application from abroad.
Additionally, if you plan to switch to this visa from a Student visa, one of the following must apply to you:
- You’ve completed the course you were sponsored to study on your Student visa
- The start date of your job is after the completion date of your course
- You’ve been studying for a PhD for at least 24 months
Can I bring my family members with me?
You can include the following family members in your application:
- Your partner
- Your child under 18
- Your children over 18 who are currently in the UK as dependants
You must have £630 available for each dependant in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself.
As part of your application, you need to show proof of these funds, which must have been in your bank account or your dependants’ account for at least 90 days before you apply.
How long does it take to get an Innovator Founder visa?
The earliest you can submit your Innovator Visa application is 3 months before the date you plan to enter the UK.
You should get a decision on your visa from the Home Office within 3 weeks. However, the processing time may be longer if you applied from outside the UK.
If you wish to get a faster decision, you can apply for the Home Office’s Priority service. To learn more about this option or to enquire about the predicted processing time of your application, you can contact our team of immigration lawyers in Birmingham.
How do my dependants apply to enter the UK?
Your family members must submit their application online. They will need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre to get their biometric residence permit. This must then be collected within 10 days of the date they intend to enter the UK.
Children over the age of 18 cannot apply if they are outside the UK. Nevertheless, they can submit their application from inside the UK if they are already here as your dependants.
You family members can extend or switch their visas if they are already in the UK. They can either apply as dependent partners or children. However, they cannot submit their application from within the UK if they hold a Visitor Visa.
Last modified on August 23rd, 2023 at 2:34 pm
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One of the eligibility criteria for obtaining an Innovator Visa is to be endorsed by an accredited body. To this end, applicants must present a business idea wish is:
- New, meaning that you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
- Viable, with demonstrable potential for growth.
A comprehensive endorsing bodies list is available on the UK Government website. If you need help to understand which one is more suitable for your business idea and how to approach any of these bodies, you can seek advice from one of our professional immigration lawyers in Birmingham.
If your endorsement is withdrawn by your sponsor, your visa may be cut short. If you wish to remain in the UK, you must re-apply with a new supporting letter from a different body before your current Investor Visa expires.
As an Innovator Visa holder, you cannot:
- Do any work outside your business or being employed by another company
- Work as a doctor or dentist in training
- Work as a professional sportsperson or a sports coach
- Get public funds
To set up your business in the UK and get an Innovator Visa, you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds, which can come from any source.
On the other hand, if your business is already established and has been endorsed for another visa, you do not need any additional funds.
Although you can form a team with other Innovator migrants, you cannot share the same funds to be invested in your business. In other words, your organisation must have £50,000 for each applicant.
Unfortunately, you cannot apply for a visa extension if you are not in the UK. If you are currently abroad and you wish to re-enter the country, you will need to submit a new application.