The Innovator visa is for experienced entrepreneurs who have an innovative, viable and scalable idea to establish a business with a minimum investment of £50,000 in the UK. This route was introduced by the UK government in early 2019 effectively asserting the point that the UK is ‘open for business’ and replaces the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur route.

Innovator visa requirements

The key requirement to be eligible to apply for an innovator visa route is as follows.

  • Be 18 years old or over and have at least £50,000 available to invest in the business (or already invested if switching from start-up or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed the business idea for innovation, viability and scalability
  • Endorsing body must be reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing your business venture
  • Competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2
  • Have a credible business plan and genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK
  • Be able to support themselves and family without relying on the public funds vy meeting the maintenance requirement.

The Innovator category is for experienced entrepreneurs and must have access to either own funds or funds provided by the endorsing body of at least £50,000. Successful Innovators are granted leave for 3 years at a time and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK. Innovators must work entirely on developing their business ventures and may not take on other employment outside their business. This includes anything which effectively amounts to employment, such as using their own business to hire out their labour to another employer.

After 3 years, Innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further 3 years or settle permanently in the UK. If the innovator is applying for an extension, they must satisfy that they have been endorsed by an approved endorsing body who is satisfied that the innovator applicant progressed against the original business plan, registered with the companies house as a director, and the business is actively trading and appears sustainable for the next 12 months. In addition to this, it is also necessary to evidence that the innovator has been playing an active key role in the day to day management of the business and will spend the entire working time in the UK continuing to develop the business venture. All three stages (initial application, extension, settlement) require continuous endorsement from an endorsing body. This route is also permitted to be counted as part of the 10 year long residence settlement.