The requirements for the Innovator visa category

On 29 March 2019, the Innovator visa category was officially launched. Under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules, the Innovator visa scheme is aimed at experienced and driven foreign entrepreneurs seeking to establish and run an innovative business in the UK.

All applicants must also meet the requirements listed below:

  • English language- Level B2
  • Maintenance funds- £945 of available funds, plus £630 funds for each dependant.
  • Endorsement letter
  • Age (18+)
  • Available investment funds (at least £50,000 in cash funds)


Please note that multiple Innovator migrants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company. However, each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body. Each applicant must also independently demonstrate that they have a separate £50,000 available to invest with a ‘new business’ endorsement. It is important to note that the funds can be sourced from a third party or held in the migrant’s personal bank account for a 90 days period.

Endorsing Bodies

All applicants for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain must have been endorsed in this category by an endorsing body listed on the website. Please see the list of approved endorsing bodies on GOV.UK:

Endorsement Letter

Under paragraph W6.1 of the Immigration Rules, the migrants must provide an endorsement letter, issued by the endorsing body, which includes all of the following information:

(i) the name of the endorsing body

(ii) the endorsement reference number

(iii) the date of issue, which must be no earlier than 3 months before the date of application

(iv) the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport number

(v) a short description of the applicant’s business venture and the main products or services it provides (or will provide) to its customers

(vi) confirmation that the applicant’s business venture meets the endorsement criteria in paragraph W6.3, W6.6 or W6.7 below (as appropriate)

(vii) the name and contact details (telephone number, email and workplace address) of an individual at the endorsing body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested

Endorsement criteria- new business

The migrant’s business venture has to meet all of the requirements of Innovation, Viability, Scalability.

Innovation- The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

Viability- The migrant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.

Scalability- There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

How long is it granted for?

It will be normally granted for 3 years (entry clearance and initial leave to remain) and a further 3 years for the extension. Please note that there is no limit to how many extensions an Innovator can apply for. In addition, applicants can apply for settlement as soon as they meet the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain having spent 3 years in the UK.

How much does it cost?

The fees for the Innovator visa applied inside the UK are £1,277, whilst the UKVI will charge £1,021 for an application made outside the UK. Please note that fees are reviewed and increased annually.

Can you switch into the Innovator category?

Migrants are able to switch from the following visa categories:

  • Start-up
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • A visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Please note that migrants will be able to apply for settlement under the “Innovator” visa category having spent 3 years in this category if the applicant’s business were to meet at least two of the following requirements:

(i) At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.

(ii) The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.

(iii) The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.

(iv) The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.

(v) The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.

(vi) The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.

(vii) The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of the Innovator visa application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075 or contact us here.

The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.

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