UK Innovator Visa Overview and Eligibility

The UK Innovator Visa is a UK visa category usually for experienced businesspeople to set up an innovative business.  The investment requirement is £50,000 and you need to be endorsed by an endorsing body. Because of the endorsement requirement, this visa may be difficult to come under at the moment.

You’re eligible for this visa if:

  • You are not a national of the European Economic Area EEA and Switzerland.
  • You want to set up or run a business in the UK*. To set up or run a business in Britain your business or business idea must be endorsed by an approved body.
*If you want to set up a business in the UK, you must have access to £50,000 (reduced from the £200,000 usually needed for a UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa) in investment funds. If you already have a business established in Britain and you have been endorsed for an existing UK visa, no minimum investment funds are required.

The UK Innovator Visa replaces the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category, which closed on 29 March, 2019.

UK immigration rules published on 7 March, 2019 describe the Innovator Visa as:

“A route for more experienced businesspeople looking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. With some exceptions, applicants will have funding to invest in their business. This category may lead to settlement in the UK.”

Innovator Visa Requirements

UK immigration rules specify the following requirements to be eligible for the Innovator Visa:

  • Innovation – Proof of a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
  • Viability – Applicants must be able to demonstrate the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, plus market awareness, to run a business competently.
  • Scalability – Evidence of structured planning and the potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

Your stay in the UK

You can stay for three years if you enter the UK on an Innovator Visa or if you switch to the visa from another valid UK visa.

You can apply to extend your visa for another three years when it is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend.

After five years, you could be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (UK settlement).

Applying for an Innovator Visa UK

You can only apply for the Innovator Visa, online**. In addition, you will need to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a UK visa application centre in the country from which you are applying. You must do this to get a biometric residence permit, which is needed as part of your Innovator Visa UK application.

**If you live in North Korea, you cannot apply online. Contact Workpermit.com for more information on how to apply for the Innovator Visa.

The earliest you can apply for an Innovator Visa is 3 months before you travel. It can take a minimum of three weeks to receive a decision on your visa application.

To support your application, you must provide a business plan and supporting documents for endorsement. A business sponsor from the following approved bodies will endorse your business plan and Innovator Visa application:

• The Bakery
• Bethnal Green Ventures
• Blue Orchid
• Capital Enterprise
• CyLon
• Deep Science Ventures
• DRS Business Solutions
• Emerge Education
• Emsworth Corporate Planning (ECP)
• First Corporate Finance
• Fortunis Capital Ltd
• Founders Factory
• Ignite
• Innovate Britain
• Innovator International (powered by Geminus)
• International Innovation Hub Ltd
• Invest Northern Ireland
• Kollider
• Level 39
• MDR LAB
• MedCity
• NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator
• The Royal Society of Edinburgh
• Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator
• Scottish EDGE
• Seedcamp
• SeedHaus
• SETsquared Bristol
• Startup Funding Club
• Tech Nation
• Techstars London
• Tech X
• Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator
• Wayra
• Zinc


Those endorsing your Innovator Visa application must be ‘reasonably satisfied that you will spend much of your working time in Britain developing business ventures,’ in accordance with UK immigration rules.


UK Immigration Health Surcharge

When you apply for an Innovator Visa, you will have to pay a UK Immigration Health Surcharge. You have to pay £400 a year payable in advance for the duration of the UK visa.

  • UK Visa Tier Points-Based Immigration System
    • Tier 1 Visa
      • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
      • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
      • Tier 1 Investor Visa
    • Tier 2 Visa for Skilled Workers
      • Tier 2 General Visa
      • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
      • Tier 2 Visa Points System
      • UK Visa Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship
      • Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Application – How to apply
      • UK Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List
      • Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
      • Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
      • Tier 2 Visa Resident Labour Market Test
      • Tier 2 visa switching from another visa scheme
      • Tier 2 Visa Government fees from 29 March 2019
    • Tier 3 Visa – Never Implemented and discontinued
    • Tier 4 Student Visas
      • Tier 4 Visa for International Students
    • Tier 5 Visa for Temporary Workers
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Charity Worker) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Religious Worker) visa
      • Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa
    • Who needs a UK Tier 2 Work Visa or other visa?
  • Non Tier UK Business visas
    • UK Innovator Visa
    • UK Start Up Visa
    • UK Sole Representative of an overseas business visa
    • UK Turkish Businessperson visa
  • UK Visitor Visas
    • UK Standard Visitor visa
    • UK Permitted Paid Engagement visa
    • Who needs a UK visitor visa?
  • UK Family Visas
    • UK Family of a settled person visa
      • UK Marriage visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) tips
      • UK Fiancé visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) tips
    • EEA Family Permit and UK Residence Card
    • UK Parent of a Tier 4 child visa
    • British Ancestry visa
    • UK Entry Clearance Guide
    • EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals Working in the UK
  • UK Permanent Residence and UK Citizenship
    • UK Permanent Residence/Indefinite Leave to Remain
    • UK Citizenship and Naturalisation – How to apply
      • Children Born Outside The UK
        • The British Nationality Act 1981
        • British Citizenship By Descent Or Otherwise
        • Children born outside the UK/qualifying territory
        • UK Children of parents in Crown and similar services
        • Children who will not be British citizens
        • List of Crown and services
      • Right of Abode (UK)
    • Long Residence in UK