Innovator Visa

Innovator Visa

Last updated: 18 March 2023


The United Kingdom, with its thriving economy and business-friendly environment, continues to attract talented entrepreneurs from around the globe. One such initiative designed to encourage innovation and drive economic growth is the UK Innovator Visa. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the details of the Innovator Visa, explaining its benefits, eligibility criteria, application process, and other essential information. As an immigration adviser company, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of the UK immigration system and turn your entrepreneurial dream into a reality.

What is the UK Innovator Visa?

The UK Innovator Visa is a business visa designed for experienced entrepreneurs who wish to establish, run, or join a business in the UK. Launched in 2019, this visa category aims to promote innovation and create jobs by attracting talented business minds from around the world. Innovator Visa holders have the opportunity to stay in the UK for three years initially, with the possibility of extension or settlement (indefinite leave to remain).

Key Benefits of the UK Innovator Visa

  1. Flexibility: The Innovator Visa offers flexibility in terms of business operations, allowing applicants to set up, join, or take over an existing UK business.
  2. Access to Funding: With the support of an endorsing body, Innovator Visa holders can access various funding sources, including government grants, private investment, and loans.
  3. Opportunity for Settlement: After a successful three-year stay, Innovator Visa holders can apply for an extension or settlement, depending on their business's progress and meeting specific requirements.
  4. Family Members: Innovator Visa holders can bring their spouse or partner and children under 18 to the UK as dependents.
  5. Work and Study: While focusing on their business, Innovator Visa holders can also work in another job or study in the UK, provided it doesn't interfere with their entrepreneurial activities.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for the UK Innovator Visa, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. Endorsement: Applicants need an endorsement from an approved endorsing body, which assesses their business idea based on innovation, viability, and scalability.
  2. Business Plan: A comprehensive business plan outlining the objectives, market research, target audience, competition analysis, and financial projections is essential for endorsement.
  3. Investment Funds: Applicants must demonstrate access to at least £50,000 in investment funds to establish their business in the UK. These funds can come from their own resources or from third-party sources such as an endorsing body or a venture capital firm.
  4. English Language: Applicants must prove their knowledge of the English language by passing an approved English language test at CEFR level B2 or above or holding a degree taught in English.
  5. Maintenance Funds: Applicants must show they have enough money to support themselves and their dependents during their stay in the UK without recourse to public funds.

Application Process

The application process for the UK Innovator Visa comprises several stages:

  1. Endorsement: First, applicants must secure an endorsement from an approved endorsing body. This involves submitting a detailed business plan and supporting documents to demonstrate the innovation, viability, and scalability of the proposed business.
  2. Online Application: After obtaining an endorsement, applicants can submit their online visa application on the UK government's official website.
  3. Supporting Documents: Along with the online application, applicants need to provide various supporting documents, including the endorsement letter, proof of investment funds, English language test results, maintenance funds, and a valid passport or travel document.
  4. Biometric Information: Applicants must also provide their biometric information (fingerprints and a digital photo) at a local visa application center.
  5. Visa Decision: The UK Home Office typically processes Innovator Visa applications within three weeks, although processing times may vary. Applicants will be notified of the decision via email or post.
  6. Entry Clearance: If the visa application is approved, applicants will receive an entry clearance vignette (sticker) in their passport, allowing them to enter the UK within 30 days.
  7. Biometric Residence Permit (BRP): Upon arrival in the UK, Innovator Visa holders must collect their Biometric Residence Permit from a designated Post Office branch within 10 days.

Fees and Costs

Applying for a UK Innovator Visa entails several fees and costs, which include:

  1. Visa Application Fee: The standard fee for the Innovator Visa is £1,021 for applications submitted outside the UK and £1,277 for those submitted within the UK.
  2. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): Applicants must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, which allows them to access the UK's National Health Service (NHS). The current rate is £624 per year for the main applicant and each dependent.
  3. Biometric Information Fee: The fee for providing biometric information is typically around £19.20.
  4. English Language Test Fee: The cost of an approved English language test varies depending on the test provider and location.
  5. Additional Costs: Applicants should also consider the costs of obtaining supporting documents, translation fees, and potential legal or immigration adviser fees.

Extending the Innovator Visa and Settlement

Innovator Visa holders can apply for an extension after three years, provided they continue to meet the eligibility criteria and maintain their business's progress. To extend the visa, applicants must obtain a new endorsement letter confirming their business's success, based on specific requirements such as job creation, revenue growth, or attracting external investment.

After a successful extension, Innovator Visa holders can apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK. To be eligible for settlement, applicants must meet additional requirements, including:

  1. Continuous Residence: Applicants must have lived in the UK continuously for five years under the Innovator Visa category.
  2. Knowledge of Life in the UK: Applicants must pass the Life in the UK Test, which assesses their understanding of British culture, history, and traditions.
  3. English Language: If applicants haven't already demonstrated their English language proficiency at CEFR level B1 or above, they must do so when applying for settlement.


The UK Innovator Visa offers a unique opportunity for experienced entrepreneurs to establish or join a business in the UK, fostering innovation and economic growth. By understanding the eligibility criteria, application process, and associated fees, aspiring entrepreneurs can take the first step towards realizing their business dreams. As an immigration adviser company, we are here to guide you through the complexities of the UK immigration system and help you make your entrepreneurial vision a reality in the United Kingdom.