Immigration. Travel. Living.

UK: innovator visa


Because of its status and uniqueness, the process for acquiring one may be difficult for people that still don’t understand the concept.

This document was placed under Tier-1 category, all application for an Entrepreneur visa has been extended till the 5th April 2023 while the settlement applications are open till the 5th of April 2025. This allows previously eligible immigrants to have the opportunity to opt for the Innovator Visa instead of going for the usual visa and permit.

In this guide, we hope to tell you every single thing there is to know about getting an Innovator visa in the United Kingdom. There’s so much to know but this guide will help clear the cloud in your head.

What is an innovation visa?

First off, an Innovator visa category is a special document exclusively issued to experience businesspersons from countries outside the EEA region that want to start a business in the UK.

Innovator visas are valid for three years and can even allow the beneficiary to reside and do business in the United Kingdom even after the expiry of his document. This means that your innovation visa may allow you to qualify for permanent residence in the UK.

It also extends to some family members. Beneficiaries and holders of this document can bring their partner, children, or relative under the age of 18 to the UK.

The Innovator visa is perfect for sole proprietors, entrepreneurial teams, and joint ventures that want to start a business in the United Kingdom on a tight budget.

Applicants are required to present an innovative idea that does not already exist or a better version of an existing company.  If it does, the existing company should not yet have started trading.

The business plan must be innovative, viable, and scalable regardless of the sector. There are restrictions on companies that are specialized in property development under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category.

If you want to join an already trading business, you would have to opt for the Tier 2 General Skilled Worker visa. But if you wish to invest in an already trading business, then you should consider the Tier 1 Investor visa route.

But if you are a representative of an offshore company that wants to have a base in the UK, then you would have to opt for the sole representative of an overseas business visa.

In most cases, you will invest at least £50,000 in your company or have already invested £50,000 and have an innovative, viable, and scalable business plan before your application can be approved. Certain exceptions may apply depending on the conditions you present.

Businessmen applying for this document must work entirely on developing their business ventures and will not take any other employment outside their business or use their business to hire out labor to other employers.

Requirements for an innovator visa

London Bridge

To qualify for this travel and work permit, you must meet the eligibilities and requirements placed by the endorsing body supervising the administration of innovation visas.

The requirements that you will need to meet before you can get your innovation visa vary depending on the circumstances and business. We advise you to speak to an immigration lawyer in the UK for expert advice.

But generally, before you can get your innovation visa, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have invested or already invested at least £50,000 in your UK business.
  • You must possess a biometric residence permit
  • Have been endorsed by an approved endorsing body in the UK if you plan to start a new business venture or continue the same business in your initial application.
  • Your endorsement letter was issued within 90 days before the date of your application.
  • You want to work in the UK as stated in your application
  • You are not a national of any EU country and Switzerland.
  • Your business is active, trading, and appears sustainable for at least a year.
  • You must also have an important role in the day-to-day management and development of the said business.
  • You must understand the English language to at least IELTS 5.5 in listening, reading, writing, and speaking (equivalent to CEFR Level B2).
  • You are financially sufficient and will not rely on public funds. You need to have at least £945 to support yourself and £630 for each family member coming with you.

Endorsement criteria for a UK innovator visa

The major requirement for endorsement is to have a viable and scalable business idea with more than £50,000 available to invest.  Your business idea needs to outline change as outlined the eligibility criteria for the endorsement category.

For your startup to be endorsed and approved, the endorsing body will review your business proposal to validate if it is innovative, viable, and scalable. If it meets all three criteria, your business will be endorsed and you can proceed to apply for an innovation visa.

How to apply for a UK innovator visa

You can only apply for the United Kingdom Innovator Visa online. Your fingerprints and a photograph must be taken at a UK visa application center in your country or the place you are applying from.

You must also submit your application with a copy of your international passport, bank statements to prove financial sustenance, proof that you fulfill the English language requirement, and evidence of your investment funds. 

You can only apply for this document three months before your travel. It will take between 2 and 3 weeks for the result of your application to be sent back to you.

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