How it works

The Innovator Visa category is for experienced businesspeople who intend to set up or run a business in the UK.

This visa is suitable for overseas applicants, including those from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland who want to enter the UK after 1 January 2021. If EEA and Swiss Nationals were living in the UK by 31 December 2021, they should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

You will need to have at least £50,000 in funds (although some exceptions do apply), an innovative and viable business idea, and an endorsement from an eligible endorsing body.

Innovator Visas are valid for three years, and can lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK at the end of this period.

You must be able to show that your business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Your idea must be assessed and approved for viability by an endorsing body before you apply. They will provide you with an endorsement letter.
  • You must meet the English Language requirement.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK. 
  • You need at least £50,000 in investment funds, although there are exceptions.
  • You can form a team with another innovator applicant, but you must each have at least £50,000 in investment funds.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

  • Your idea must be assessed and approved for viability by an endorsing body before you apply. They will provide you with an endorsement letter.
  • You must meet the English Language requirement.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK. 
  • You need at least £50,000 in investment funds (see below for exceptions).
  • You can form a team with another innovator applicant, but you must each have at least £50,000 in investment funds.

Funds required

You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you want to set up a new business.

You do not need funds if either:

  • Your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.
  • You have changed your business and already agreed it with your endorsing body.


You must have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK. You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

BUSINESS ENDORSEMENT

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

• New – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading;

• Innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market; and

• Viable, with potential for growth.

Read the endorsing bodies list – you should only approach ones that are suitable for your business idea.

BUSINESS ENDORSEMENT

In order to obtain an endorsement, you must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • The business must be new – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading.
  • The business idea must be innovative and original. In other words, different from anything else on the market.
  • The business must be viable, with potential for growth.
  •  

Read the endorsing bodies list. You should only approach ones that are suitable for your business idea.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • You can set up a business or several businesses.
  • You can work for your business.
  • You can bring family members (dependents) with you.

RESTRICTIONS

  • You cannot do any work outside your business.
  • You cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training.
  • You cannot work as a professional sportsperson.
  • You cannot get public funds.

FAQs

UK INNOVATOR VISA

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

You can apply for Priority Service if it is available in your country. There is a cost to get a quicker decision – this depends on each individual visa application centre.
• Priority Service: Collection within 5 working days
• Super Priority Service: Collection within 24 hours

The Innovator Visa is valid for three years, whether you arrive in the UK on this visa or apply for a visa switch from within the UK. Thereafter you may be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

You can switch to the Innovator Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and are currently in the UK on one of the following visas:
• Start-up Visa
• Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa
• Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
• Any Tier 2 Visa
• Standard Visitor Visa – if you came to the UK to get funding and had a supporting letter from an endorsing body 

You must switch to this visa before your current visa expires.

CONTACT US FOR OUR EXPERT ADVICE

There are many requirements to be met to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration. The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the evidentiary documents that must be provided.

Woodcock Law is well placed and highly experienced in providing advice and assistance on making a Innovator Visa application. We appreciate that many of the requirements may seem overly complex and onerous, but we can assist you in your application.

We recommend getting in contact with us on 020 7712 1590 for our expert advice on such an application before any action is taken.

The information contained on this page is sourced from UK Visas and Immigration and is subject to change. While Woodcock Law Limited makes every effort to keep this information current, prices and information cannot be guaranteed and should always be checked on www.gov.uk.