Innovator Visa

The UK Business Innovator Visa (formerly known as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa) is intended for people who wish to invest in the UK by starting or taking over a business and being actively involved in business. Applicants need £50,000 and their business idea must be approved by a support body.

Who is eligible for the UK Business Innovator Visa?

You can apply for the UK Innovator Visa if your business idea is:

  • Your business idea must be new and something you have implemented.
  • Your business idea must offer something new to the business world and you should be able to demonstrate that it will be beneficial to the UK economy and its workforce and is different to other businesses already on the market.
  • Your business idea must be capable of success and growth.

UK Business Innovator Visa Requirements

To be eligible for the UK Innovator Visa, you must meet the requirements listed below:

  • You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds. You will also need to prove where you got the funds from.
  • You must have £1,270 in your bank account. This money will help you support yourself. You cannot use money from your investment fund for this purpose or money earned by working illegally in the UK.
  • You must demonstrate your knowledge of English. Unless you have done so in another successful visa application, you must demonstrate good English proficiency in reading, writing and speaking. The level of English proficiency should be B2 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
  • You must be an adult. If an applicant is under 18 years of age, his or her parents, legal guardian or sole parent with legal responsibility for the minor must:
  • support the application
  • give your consent to the applicants
  • Note: Two applicants can claim points for the same investment and business. However, they must name each other on the application forms and documents. The money, therefore, can be shared by a team of up to 2 entrepreneurs.

Each team member can work in the UK using the same investment funds. A maximum of 2 people per team are allowed. Neither applicant must have used the same funds as any other applicant.

How to apply for a UK Business Innovator Visa?

To apply for a business innovator visa in the UK, you must initially have your business idea approved by an approving body. Then, you need to submit an online application and visit a UK visa application center in your country to provide your biometric information. The step by step process is as follows:

Have your business idea approved by a guarantor body

When you are ready to apply, an approving body must evaluate your business idea. The approval body approves the innovation, feasibility and scalability criteria. The approving body will check the entrepreneur’s progress after 6 and 12 months from the start of the visa. This is to ensure that the entrepreneur stays on track, ensuring success. More importantly, the approving body must be approved by the UK. The list of bodies authorized to issue endorsements is available here.

Start the online visa application form

You need to complete the UK visa application form online, on the UK Visas and Immigration website. Once you start filling out the application, you can always save the form and return to it later.

Upload the required documents

You will need to upload your documents in the “evidence section” of the online application form.

When you prepare to upload your documents, you can take a photo with your smartphone or digital camera or scan your documents. When taking a photo or scanning a document, make sure the document is clearly visible. All information must be visible.

Pay the health contribution

When you apply online, you can pay the UK health surcharge as part of the application process. You should complete your payment and return to the online application in less than 30 minutes. The amount you will have to pay depends on the duration of the visa issued to you. If you pay the health supplement for longer than you were granted leave, you will automatically be refunded half of the total amount.

  • You must pay the health surcharge via debit or credit card.
  • Pay the visa fee
  • Once your visa application is complete, you can proceed and pay the visa fee online. You will be charged based on where you submit your request from.

Present the required documents and biometric data at a visa application center

  • You must visit an application center in your home country to submit your supporting documents and to request the capture of your biometric data.
  • See the UK visa application centers here (depending on your country of residence).

Documents required for a business innovator visa in the UK

For your application to be eligible, you must provide the following:

Valid passport or other documents proving your identity and nationality. You will need a blank page in your passport for the visa if you are:

From non-EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

  • From the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with chip inserted
  • Bank statement to show you have had at least £1,270 of savings in your bank account which you must have available for 28 consecutive days before applying.
  • Evidence that you meet the English language requirements.
  • Confirmation of your investment funds (if you intend to start a new business).
  • The approval letter to demonstrate that an authorized sponsoring body has evaluated your business idea.
  • Tuberculosis test results, if you are from a country where you need to take the test.

Processing time for a business innovator visa in the UK

The processing time for a UK Business Innovator visa depends on where you are applying. After submitting your online application and submitting all necessary documents, you will receive a decision by:

  • 3 weeks you are in the UK
  • 8 weeks if you are outside the UK.

Please note that the waiting time begins once you have attended your appointment and had your biometric data taken at a visa application centre, or once you have identified your identity using the UK Immigration-ID app Check.

You can pay for extra services to make a decision faster:

To get a decision within 5 working days. If you need to make a decision on your visa application within 5 working days, you can pay for the “priority service”. You will have to pay an extra £500 on top of the visa fee.

To make a decision the next business day. If you need an immediate decision, you can pay for the “super priority service” and get a decision on your visa application by the end of the next business day (if you applied on a weekday) or two business days after appointment (if the appointment is at the weekend or falls on a public holiday). You will have to pay an extra £800 on top of the visa fee.

Proficiency in English for the Business Innovator visa

You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You need to demonstrate your knowledge of the language in a couple of ways.

By taking the Secure English Language Test, otherwise known as SELT, from an approved provider. If you are outside the UK, you can only take a SELT with one of the following providers:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • Linguistic Certification
  • Pearson
  • PSI Services (UK) Ltd

Possessing a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English; therefore, knowledge of the English language gained by studying at a UK school which you started when you were not 18

Having obtained a university level academic qualification in English. Your qualification must be equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s, Master’s or PhD. You can do this by requesting confirmation via ECCTIS.

Note: You are exempt from proving your English language proficiency if you are a citizen of: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, 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, United States.

UK Business Innovator Visa Duration

A British innovator visa in the UK is issued for up to three years. In case you want to stay longer, you have the option to extend your visa.

Can I extend my UK Business Innovator Visa?

If you wish to stay in the UK for a longer period of time, you can apply for a visa extension online (UK Government website) or at a visitor application centre. You must submit an application before your current visa expires. The requirements to extend the Business Innovator Visa for the UK are:

  • You still meet the original eligibility criteria.
  • Are you still running a business in the UK or planning to set up or take over a new one. If you plan to start a new business, you will need £50,000 in investment funds.
  • You have £1,270 in your bank account for 28 days.
  • You have provided your biometric data (for free).

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