With the closure of other routes for entrepreneurs, the Innovator Visa offers an attractive option to experienced business people who are seeking to set up or run a business in the UK.

If you are applying for an Innovator Visa, you will need to meet the application’s general requirements and some additional criteria (that will depend on whether you are endorsed by a recognised endorsing body) for your new business or the one that you will be running.

Innovator Visa application

General requirements:

You must meet the general requirements that are common across the Work Visa routes, those being as follows:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must meet the English language requirement.
  • You can financially support yourself and any dependents (At least £1,270 available in your bank account for 28 consecutive days).

Additionally, for the Innovator Visa, your business – new or current – must be endorsed by an approved endorsing body. You can see a list of all the authorised endorsing bodies published on the Home Office website.

You are considered to be endorsed for the same business if your last grant of leave was in Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Start-Up, or Innovator categories and you are pursuing the same business that was endorsed for your previous leave.

There are two types of businesses covered by the Innovator Visa, a ‘new’ business, which you are either starting up or are taking over or a ‘same’ business – a business that you currently run and have run in the past on another Business Visa.

Their specific set of requirements are as follows:

Innovator Visa requirements for new businesses

If you are considered to be endorsed for a new business, you must meet the following requirements (together with the General Requirements):

  • You must have at least £50,000 available in investment funds, of your own or from third parties
  • Your business venture must be innovative, viable, and scalable.

Innovator Visa requirements for the same business

If you are considered to be endorsed for the same business that you have been running, you must meet the following requirements (together with the general requirements):

  • You need to show significant achievements in line with the business plan for your previous application.
  • Your business must be registered with Companies House and you need to be listed as a director or a member of that business.
  • Your business must be active and trading.
  • You need to prove that your business is sustainable for at least the following 12 months.
  • You must have demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

At QC Immigration, we offer our clients comprehensive legal assistance, you will benefit from a detailed document list, document checks, and thorough guidance for any interview and ongoing advice to help you meet the above-mentioned requirements.

Application process

You need to apply online for an Innovator Visa via the Home Office website.

You will be required to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre in order to obtain a biometric residence permit. Then, you will have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you initially stated that you would arrive in the UK.

This will add £19.20 to your application.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator if you have continuously resided in the UK for at least 3 years and you meet the other eligibility requirements.

You need to demonstrate that you have met the Settlement Success Criteria including at least 2 of the below:

  • You have invested at least £50,000 into the business in order to advance the business plan of your previous endorsement.
  • The number of the business’ customers has at least doubled within the last 3 years and is now higher than the average number of customers for other UK businesses with similar services.
  • The business undertakes significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
  • The business has a minimum annual revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
  • The business is generating a minimum annual revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).

How Can QC Immigration Help

If you would like to apply for your Innovator Visa with the confidence that all of your bases have been covered, work alongside the experienced QC Immigration team. Our award-winning firm has a long track record of helping clients successfully being granted their visa applications. We will help you submit a strong case that clearly outlines that you meet the necessary criteria to be an innovator. We can also provide recommendations for endorsing bodies that our clients have successfully secured endorsements from.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with an Innovator Visa application, please contact our team.

Frequently Asked Questions

How early can I apply for an Innovator Visa?

The earliest you can apply for an Innovator Visa is 3 months prior to travelling to the UK.

How long does it take to get a decision on an Innovator Visa?

A decision on an Innovator Visa is usually made within 8 weeks, subject to any latest changes to Home Office processing times. You can check the Home Office guide processing times to find out how long obtaining a visa might take in your country via the Home Office website. We may also explore any suitable Priority Service to expedite your application.

How long can I stay in the UK on an Innovator Visa?

You can stay in the UK on an Innovator Visa for 3 years. You can apply to extend your visa for 3 more years if you apply before your initial visa expires. Notably, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) once you have completed 3 years in the UK.

Can I bring my family members with me to the UK if I am on an Innovator Visa?

You can bring your family members (‘dependants’) with you, namely your husband, wife or partner. You can also bring children under 18 as well as children over 18 if they are currently in the UK as dependants. Importantly, your family members must apply for a visa if they are from outside the EEA or Switzerland.

Each dependant will need to show that they have a certain amount of money available to support themselves while they are in the UK – in addition to the minimum £1,270 required.

Can I switch to an Innovator Visa if I am in the UK on another visa?

You may be able to switch to an Innovator Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you are in the UK on another visa such as a Start-Up Visa. Note that any dependant will also need to apply to switch their status in line with your application.

Do I have to be the sole founder of my business in order to qualify for an Innovator Visa?

You do not need to be the sole founder of your business in order to qualify for an Innovator Visa. You can apply alongside other Innovator Applicants to form an Innovator Team. Nevertheless, each applicant must be endorsed in their own right. Also, for new business applications, each applicant must prove that they each have £50,000 available in investment funds.

Will I be able to join or take over existing businesses?

You must establish a new and innovative UK business only. If you wish to join or take over an existing UK business, other visa categories are available such as:

Am I allowed to work elsewhere?

Innovators are restricted to working for their own businesses. There is, however, nothing to prevent you from establishing multiple UK businesses and working for them all.

What happens if an endorsing body loses or withdraws its status?

If an endorsement has been withdrawn or the endorsing body loses its status, the Home Office will consider curtailing the leave of any innovators it had endorsed. They may do so with immediate effect, or to allow you to retain part of the remaining duration of their visa, or not to curtail your leave at all. If your leave is curtailed, you would need to secure a fresh endorsement from a new endorsing body.

Need more information?

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