You can apply for an Innovator visa if:
- you want to set up or run a business in the UK
- you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
- you meet the other eligibility requirements
- your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body
You must be able to show that your business idea is:
- a new idea – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
- viable, with potential for growth
How long it takes to get a 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.
How much you pay for an Innovator visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.
|Who you’re applying for||Apply (outside the UK)||Extend or switch (in the UK)|
|You (if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia)||£966||£1,222|
|All dependants||£1,021 each person||£1,277 each person|
How long you can stay
You can stay for 3 years if you:
- come to the UK on an Innovator visa
- switch to this visa from another visa
You can apply to extend for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There’s no limit on the number of times you can extend.
You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you’ve been in the UK for 3 years.
If your endorsement is withdrawn
Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
What you can and cannot do
- set up a business or several businesses
- work for your business – this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership
- bring family members with you
- do any work outside your business, for example work where you’re employed by another business
- work as a doctor or dentist in training
- work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
- get public funds
Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body.
They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.
You must also:
- meet the English language requirement
- be at least 18 years old
- be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK
If you want to set up a new business
You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for an Innovator visa if you want to set up a new business.
Your funding can come from any source.
You do not need any investment funds if your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.
You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.
You cannot use either of the following to support yourself:
- money from your investment funds
- money earned while working in the UK illegally
Sharing investment funds
You can form a team with other Innovator applicants, but you cannot share the same investment funds.
Your team must have £50,000 for each Innovator applicant. For example, if you have 2 Innovator applicants, your team must have £100,000 to invest.
Knowledge of English
You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.
You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
- passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
- having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.
You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Documents you must provide
When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ to show that an approved body has assessed your business or business idea.
You also need to provide:
- a current passport or other valid travel identification
- bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
- proof that you meet the English language requirement
- evidence of your investment funds (if you’re setting up a new business)
- your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
You need a blank page in your passport for your visa.
You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
Endorsing bodies: innovator visa
The below is a list of authorised endorsing bodies that can issue endorsements for innovator visas.
Business endorsing bodies
The Bakery endorses bona-fide entrepreneurs who qualify for their corporate innovation programmes.
BGV is an early stage investor in tech, for good companies, who only endorse start-up entrepreneurs accepted onto their support programme.
Blue Orchid will only endorse high growth start-ups who are working within their client base across England’s North West and West Midlands.
Capital Enterprise will only be endorsing founders within their community. Check back as this may change in time.
CBP are an award-winning business development organisation, supporting highly innovative, skilled individuals to help realise their entrepreneurial growth ambitions. Selected endorsements are considered for high-growth business opportunities across the UK.
CyLon is interested in hearing from emerging cyber security companies or entrepreneurs planning on setting up an innovative cyber start-up.
Apply if you are a scientist or engineer determined to start a deep science company. Please apply through the current opportunities page.
DRS will only consider applications for endorsement from those individuals who they are working with in their client base.
Emerge Education invests in and supports the growth of early stage education startups.
ECP providing business implementation and mentoring services for dynamic and disruptive companies looking to establish themselves in the UK. They are fully prepared to review a sector-agnostic range of business opportunities. Please visit the ECP website.
Envestors is an award-winning corporate finance advisor that endorses international innovators wanting to build a business in the UK and fundraise through their digital platform technology.
They offer an open invitation to entrepreneurs worldwide with innovative business ideas to register in their Business Support Program, with future potential endorsement. Contact them now.
Fortunis Capital works with motivated individuals and teams who have innovative and scalable proposals that aim to have a positive impact on wider society. They actively manage their entire portfolio.
Founders Factory is an award-winning tech startup accelerator and incubator. They endorse entrepreneurs joining one of their programmes.
They only endorse applicants who are successful in applying for one of their accelerator programmes.
Innovate Britain focus on vital enterprise sectors including Education, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Consumer and Infrastructure. Applications are accepted through their website.
Geminus can provide endorsements to clients on their “Innovator International” business support programme, available across the UK.
An award-winning team who work with highly innovative and skilled individuals to realise their growth aspirations. Located in the north, particularly the Manchester and Liverpool region, with expertise in green and renewable energy, engineering, manufacturing, digital and tech.
Invest NI endorses entities for Start-up/Innovator Visas through participation on its accelerator program or requests from client companies only.
Kollider is a high growth business incubator. They endorse members with innovative ideas in the creative, digital and tech sectors expected to scale in their markets within 24 months.
Level39 only endorses those involved in FinTech, cyber security, smart cities, retail tech and other globally ambitious tech business.
MDR LAB is an accelerator for tech start-ups in the legal space. They only endorse migrants accepted onto our 10-week May-July programme.
MedCity supports collaboration, investment, entrepreneurship and industry within the life sciences across Greater South-East of England.
RebelBio specialises in pre-seed investments in Biotech, Healthtech, Life Sciences, Future of Food, Agtech and Biomaterials. They invest broadly in science-based, tech-enabled early-stage start-ups.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh only provide endorsement to their awardees who have received an RSE Enterprise Fellowship. They cannot support any individual who does not fall under this category.
Sapphire is a multi-award winning venture capital firm located in London and Belfast. Sapphire seeks to identify and assist bonafide entrepreneurs who will qualify for further investment through Sapphire’s numerous startup venture capital funds.
Scottish EDGE can endorse winners of its bi-annual funding competition for innovative, high-growth potential Scottish businesses. Approximately 6% of applicants win.
Seedcamp invest early in world-class founders attacking large, global markets and solving real problems using technology. Please visit their website for more information and FAQs.
SETsquared Bristol is not currently accepting external or speculative applications for Innovator through endorsement. This may change in the future, so please check back here for updates.
Startup Funding Club invests in early stage ventures from across all sectors, leading their first funding round, supporting growth and taking them to the next stage.
The Start-up Race are a global accelerator that supports world-class entrepreneurs and start-ups who want to create disruptive and innovative businesses. They only consider applications for Start-up and Innovator visa endorsements from individuals supported through their programmes and communities.
Tech Nation focuses on entrepreneurs of product-led digital technology businesses and are developing an initiative to identify and support Tech Nation applicants. They aim to begin endorsing applications by April 2020 or sooner if possible. Please visit their website for future updates.
Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. They can only endorse Techstars backed Founders and other individuals from the Network.
Tech X is a unique tech accelerator and incubator for global start-ups looking to transform the energy sector – offers unparalleled funding and support.