UK’s Innovator Visa Is Both Brilliant And Hard To Get

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In March 2019, the UK government unveiled its new Innovator Visa Program. The Innovator Visa is for advanced or experienced entrepreneurs who can invest at least £50,000 in a new business in the UK.

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To get the visa, you must prove your business idea is unique and doesn’t already exist in the UK. If a similar business idea exists, the business can’t be up and running. Entrepreneurs applying for the visa can be business founders or a part of the team that founded the business. The business idea, along with being unique, should be scalable and feasible.  Applicants for the Innovator Visa can work on other businesses along with the one described in their application.

However, if you want to join an existing business and not create something on your own, the Skilled Worker visa is what you need. If you want to join an existing business that is also trading, take the Tier 1 Investor Visa route.

What Are The Requirements?

If you want to apply to the UK’s Innovator Visa program, you must fulfill Part W3 and Part W6 immigration rules. The basic rules are as follows:

  • You should be at least 18 years old.
  • You should have at least £50,000 to invest in your UK business or invested £50,000 in your UK business. This requirement doesn’t apply if you’re switching from the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up class for your business plan.
  • A UK endorsing body must approve your business idea in terms of scalability, innovation, and viability, and confirm you will spend the required amount of time in the UK to create your business.
  • You have passed an English test at level B2, similar to IELTS 5.5 for reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
  • You will have savings of £945 within 90 days.
  • You can work full time on your business.
  • You must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge.
  • Overseas applicants must show a criminal records certificate.
  • You must spend £1,021 for application clearance and £1,277 for extensions
  • If you have been in the UK for less than a year, you’ll need to have a minimum £1270 balance to support your living expenses. If you have a dependent partner, £285 more is required, and £315 for one child. If you have multiple children, add between £200 and £315 more for each.
  • You should not obtain your endorsement letter not more than three months before the date when you decide to apply for the UK innovator visa.

These requirements might change, depending on your case. If you want to confirm them, talk to your immigration lawyer for advice.

You also need to consider the endorsement criteria if you’re applying for a UK Innovator visa.

What Are The Endorsement Criteria For A UK Innovator Visa?

You need to apply to the appropriate endorsement body for your business, and your application must be approved. To get approval, you need to ensure your business meets the following criteria:

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  • Your business idea is innovative, meets the needs of the modern UK market, and creates competitive advantages.
  • You have the skills, knowledge, and market awareness required to run a successful business.
  • Your business plan is well structured and outlines jobs and economic growth opportunities in the UK and international markets.
  • The endorsement body is satisfied that you’re willing to devote sufficient time to developing your new business.

Suppose you have a business plan similar to an existing one operating in the UK market. In that case, you need to register your business with Companies House as a Director or Member, and your competitor business should not have an active trading history. Your business should be actively trading and sustainable for the following 12 months at a minimum. You should also play an active regular role in the company’s management or development department. If you and your business meet these criteria, you can apply for the UK Innovator visa.


The UK Innovator visa holders can stay in the UK for three years. You can visit the UK with an Innovator visa or switch to the Innovator Visa from another visa you’ve obtained to enter the UK. When your initial 3-year stay ends, you can apply for a 3-year extension.  There is no limit to the number of times you can extend your visa, but you must have completed three years in the UK. Once you have applied for the visa, it will take approximately three weeks to get it approved if you are in the UK or 8 weeks outside of the country.

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