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
- Flexibility: The Innovator Visa offers flexibility in terms of business operations,
allowing applicants to set up, join, or take over an existing UK business.
- Access to Funding: With the support of an endorsing body, Innovator Visa holders can
access various funding sources, including government grants, private investment, and
- 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.
- Family Members: Innovator Visa holders can bring their spouse or partner and children
under 18 to the UK as dependents.
- 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
To qualify for the UK Innovator Visa, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Endorsement: Applicants need an endorsement from an approved endorsing body, which
assesses their business idea based on innovation, viability, and scalability.
- Business Plan: A comprehensive business plan outlining the objectives, market research,
target audience, competition analysis, and financial projections is essential for
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
The application process for the UK Innovator Visa comprises several stages:
- 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.
- Online Application: After obtaining an endorsement, applicants can submit their online
visa application on the UK government's official website.
- 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
- Biometric Information: Applicants must also provide their biometric information
(fingerprints and a digital photo) at a local visa application center.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
Fees and Costs
Applying for a UK Innovator Visa entails several fees and costs, which include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Biometric Information Fee: The fee for providing biometric information is typically
- English Language Test Fee: The cost of an approved English language test varies
depending on the test provider and location.
- 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
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
- Continuous Residence: Applicants must have lived in the UK continuously for five years
under the Innovator Visa category.
- 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.
- 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.