The Innovator visa was launched on 29 March 2019 to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. The new immigration route is designed for experienced entrepreneurs from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland who wish to launch their own business in the UK.

You may be able to switch to the Innovator visa if you are already in the UK on a Startup visa, a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa, a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, or any Tier 2 visa.

You may also be able to switch to an Innovator visa from a Standard Visitor visa provided you come to the UK to get funding and obtain a supporting letter from an endorsing body.

Please speak to Tanya Laidlaw if you would like to learn more. If you require corporate legal support for your new venture, we are able to provide specialist advice.

Innovator Visa Eligibility & Requirements

You will need to obtain endorsement of your business idea from one of the organisations approved by the Home Office. You will also need access to at least £50,000 in investment funds – this requirement will not apply if your business is already established and has been endorsed for a Startup visa. You can form a team with other Innovator applicants, but you will not be able to share the same investment funds.

You will need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply. You may also need to provide evidence of your English language ability – the minimum level for an Innovator visa application is B2 (‘Independent User’ in the CEFR classification).

To obtain your initial visa officially called ‘entry clearance’ you will need to provide evidence that you are able to invest £200,000 into your business, that you are able to speak English to at least an intermediate level (commonly known as B1), and that you have prepared a well researched business plan and a clear understanding of how you are going to launch your venture.

If you are a Tier 4 Student or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, you can apply to switch to a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa inside the UK. Tier 4 Students can apply on the basis of a £50,000 investment.

Innovator Visa Conditions

The Innovator visa allows you to stay in the UK for 3 years – you can apply for an extension of another 3 years as many times as necessary. Once you have been in the UK for 5 years, however, you may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’).

With this visa, you can set up your own business or businesses and be employed as a director or self-employed as a member of a business partnership. You can bring your family members to the UK with you.

You will not be able to work outside your business, such as being employed by another company.