The Wall of Ideas

Innovator Visa

What is Innovator Visa?


The Innovator Visa category for experienced business people seeking to establish an innovative business in the UK. You need to have at least £50,000 investment fund available in setting up your new business unless you are switching from the Start-up Visa (or previously Graduate Entrepreneur Visa) and carry on developing the same business which has previously been endorsed.  You cannot invest in an existing business which is already trading and which you do not play an active day to day role in the business’s operation. You are expected to spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business venture(s), therefore, working for other jobs outside your business is not allowed.


What is the benefit of applying for the Innovator visa category?

  • You can set up more than one business

  • You can bring your dependents with you to the UK

  • You can switch from other visa category (exceptions apply)

  • You can extend your visa and there is no limit on the number of times you can extend

  • You can apply to settle in the UK after 3 years (provided other eligibility requirements are met)



What is the application process?

The application process is in two stages.


Stage 1

Applicants will first need to secure endorsement from a UK higher education institution or approved business endorsing body.  Full list of the approved business endorsing bodies can be found here.  You are expected to have greater business skills and experience. You will have to draw up a comprehensive business plan to demonstrate that your business plan is viable and detailing your business idea, strategies, financial forecasts, projections,etc.  You must be able to show that your business idea is:


  • a new idea - you cannot join in a business that is already trading

  • innovative - you must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage 

  • viable - it is realistic and achievable. With potential growth. You should have or is actively developing necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness that is required to successfully run the  business

  • scalable - there should be evidence to show that your business plan will be able to create jobs and growth into UK markets


Stage 2

If approved, you can then make your visa application to the Home Office.



What is the eligibility criteria?

You must:

  • be at least 18 years old;

  • proof that you have at least £50,000 available to invest, or have already been invested in your business adventure. The source of the investment fund can be from yourself or form the endorsing body. 


  • meet the English language requirement of at least CEFR Level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening unless the exceptions apply to you. Or you have a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English or a qualification that is equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree, master's degree or PhD

  • have a sufficient amount of personal savings to support yourself (and your dependants, if any) while you are in the UK (*this financial support is in addition to the investment fund):


  • £1,270 - for yourself

  • £285 - for your partner

  • £315 - for one child

  • £200 - for each additional child



  • have a valid Tuberculosis tests certificate

  • be endorsed by an authorised body and able to provide an endorsement letter issued by the endorsing body within 3 months before the date of your application;


How much does it cost and how long does the application take?

The application fee for each person (the applicant / dependant) is £1,021 if the application is made outside the UK and £1,277 if the application is made within the UK. You and your dependants will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of the application process. You can calculate how much you have to pay here.


The processing time would take about 3 weeks if the application is made outside the UK and 8 weeks if the application is made within the UK. 



Can you apply as a team?

You can team up with your business partners to form an entrepreneurial team and share the same business idea and plan as another innovator team member. 

However, each member of the innovator team must be get their own endorsement and be issued with an individual endorsement letter. Innovator team members cannot share the £50,000 investment fund (e.g. if you form a team of 2 members, your team will need £100,000 to invest), each team member must also need to all the requirements of the route in their own right.  




Applying for settlement (indefinite leave to remain/ILR)


Eligibility criteria 

You must:

  • have lived in the UK for 3 years using Innovator Visa 

  • passed the Life in the UK Test

  • Not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months over the 3 years period

  • Get a new endorsement from an approved endorsing body (not necessarily be the same one who endorsed you in your initial entry clearance application)


Endorsement requirements

You must meet all the following requirements:

  • You have shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement. 

  • Your business is registered with Companies House and you are listed as a director or shareholder of that business. 

  • The business is active and trading. 

  • The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses. 

  • You has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business 

And also, your business must have done 2 of the following:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant's previous endorsement. 

  • The number of the business's customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services. 

  • The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK. 

  • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts. 

  • The business is generating a minimum annual gross 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 settled workers. 

  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for settled workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses). 



When to apply and how much does it costs?

The earliest day you can apply is 28 days before you are eligible.  At the date of your ILR application, your current Innovator Visa must still be valid. 


The application fee for each person is £2,389. If you want to include your dependants in the same application, each of the dependants has to pay for the application fee.  There is no requirement for healthcare surcharge for ILR applications.


The processing time normally take 6 months.

*The money should be kept in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you make the application

* You do not need any investment funds if either:

> your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa (e.g. Start-up visa); 

> you've changed your business and already agreed it with your endorsing body

Get in touch with our immigration team today if you need help with your Innovator Visa application