The UK Innovator Visa: All You Need To Know

Originally published at: The UK Innovator Visa: All You Need To Know | GoVisaFree

Are you one of those who have always dreamt of living in the UK? Enjoying London come rain or shine, getting your tea at five o’clock, or making new friends in the famous pubs? If so, we’ve got the good news: You can start your new life in the UK through the innovator visa if you have an innovative business idea.

But, how? In this article, we’re going to explain how to be eligible for a UK Innovator Visa and how to make an application. 

Let’s begin!

What Is UK Innovator Visa

The Innovator visa is for experienced business people who want to establish a new business in the UK. If you want to start and manage an innovative business in the UK, it has to be something that stands apart from the competition.

If you meet the following criteria, you can apply for an Innovator visa:

  • An approved body, often known as an endorsing body, has endorsed your firm or business idea
  • You match all of the other eligibility criteria

This visa was previously named Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1).

Eligibility and Requirements

Business Requirements

When you’re applying for a UK Innovator Visa, first get your business or business idea evaluated by an endorsing organization.

You’re required to show that your business concept meets the following criteria:

  • It’s new – you can’t qualify if you’re planning to join an existing firm
  • It’s unique – you must have an original business idea that is unlike anything else on the market, with room for expansion

What Is an Endorsing Body?

An endorsing body is an organization that has been accredited (and so approved by the government) to endorse a business proposal. An endorsing body should assess your business to decide if it’s innovative and viable. Also, you should be able to demonstrate that you’ll spend your entire working time in the country to develop your business.

Financial Requirements

  • When you’re setting up a new business and applying for the innovator visa for the first time, you’re required to show that you have at least £50,000 in investment funds

Note that you’ll be required to prove the source of your funds. Also note that you can join a team with other innovator applicants, but you won’t be able to share the investment money. For each applicant, your team must have £50,000. If you have two innovator applicants, for example, your team will need £100,000 to invest.

If your firm is already established and has been endorsed for a previous visa, or if you’ve altered your business and have agreed with your endorsing body, you don’t require any investment capital.

  • £1,270 is secured in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you make an application

The money from your investment funds can’t be declared as supporting funds.

Language Requirements

When applying for the UK Innovator Visa, you’ll be required to prove your English language proficiency. The requirement is that you can read, write, speak and understand English to a level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages scale.

If you’ve already proven your English level on a previous successful visa application, you may not need to take an exam again.

How To Prove Your English Level

You can show your proficiency by:

  • Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from a recognized testing center
  • having earned a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English from a school in the UK where you started when you were under the age of 18
  • having an academic qualification at the bachelor’s level that was taught in English – if you studied abroad, you’ll need to prove that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD

If you are a citizen of one of the following countries, you’re not required to prove your language your English proficiency:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana

  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

UK Innovator Visa: How To Apply

Check Your Eligibility

Before contacting any endorsing body, check if you meet the eligibility criteria. This stage is essential and we suggest that you speak to professionals before you move to the next step.

Prepare Your Business Plan

As we’ve mentioned above, your business plan needs to be an innovative and unique one. Again, checking with professional advisors is important as they can advise if your plan is appropriate or needs improvement.

Contact an Endorsing Body

If you and your business plan are meeting the criteria, it’s time to contact an endorsing body. You can present your business plan at your initial appointment with the endorsing body. Also, note that you’ll need to present the source of your funds and they’ll run a full KYC and due diligence.

Get Your Endorsement Letter

If the endorsing body is satisfied with your plan, they’ll approve it. After your endorsement is secured, you can move to the next step.

Visa Application – if you’re applying from outside the UK

UK Innovator Visa Application is done online through the official website of the Home Office. At this stage, you’ll need to present your documents and prove your identity. How you can prove your identity differs depending on your passport type. You’ll either get your biometric data taken at a visa application center or through the UK Immigration ID Check app.

When Can You Expect To Get Your Approval

If you’ve provided all related documents, you might expect to get a reply within three weeks.


You’ll need to keep in touch with your endorsing body after your application is approved, This happens with checkpoints at six, 12, and 24 months.

Note that you’ll need to prove that you are still working on your business and have made reasonable progress toward your business idea. If this is not the case, your endorsement may be revoked.

Validity of the UK Innovator Visa

The UK Innovator Visa grants you a three-year stay right in the country. 

Extending Your Innovator Visa

When your visa expires, you can request to extend your stay for another three years. There is no limit to how many times you can get an extension.

After three years in the UK, you may be eligible to apply for settlement.


The cost of an Innovator visa varies depending on your situation and where you apply.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extension or switching visas (in the UK)
You £1,021 £1,277
Your partner and children

£1,021 each person

£1,277 each person

If you are from one of the following countries, your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • The Republic of Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland

  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Turkey

This discount is only applicable for you, as the main applicant, not for your partner, or children.

Benefits of UK Innovator Visa

When you’re granted an Innovator visa you can:

  • Set up a business or several businesses
  • Work for your business – you can be employed as a director, or self-employed as a part of a business partnership
  • Bring your partner and children to the UK – if they’re eligible
  • Travel outside the UK and come back
  • Become eligible for “indefinite leave to remain” after you’ve lived in the country for three years


With UK Innovator Visa, you’re not allowed to:

  • Do any other business than your business
  • Work as a professional sportsperson
  • Get public funds or State Pension

Required Documents 

  • Endorsement letter from an endorsing body
  • A valid passport or a document proving your nationality and identity
  • Proof of investment funds (minimum £50,000)
  • £1,270 is secured in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before your application
  • Proof of your English proficiency
  • Tuberculosis test results (applicable if you’re from a country where taking the test is obligatory)


There you have it. We’ve tried to give you a basic outline for the UK Innovator Visa.

The UK is a country with high quality of life, an attractive lifestyle, and many business opportunities. It’s also a favorite destination for many digital nomads and entrepreneurs.

Have you ever thought of working and living there? Let us know…

Don’t worry if you’re not eligible for a UK Innovator Visa. There are many countries that offer digital nomad visas. Good luck with your search!

Further Readings

Permanent Residence in the UK

The Ultimate Entrepreneur Visa Guide