Innovator Visa

Innovator Visa

Sterling Immigration specialize in drafting persuasive business plans in support of UK Innovator Visa applications.

Awards and Accreditations

Innovator Visa Overview

The Innovator Visa replaced the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa whcih was closed to new applicants on 29 March 2019. The Innovator visa category is ideal for those seeking to establish a business in the UK.  You will need to have £50,000 to invest in your business and have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.

What are the main requirements for an Innovator Visa?

To qualify for an Innovator Visa you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • In general, if you are a first time applicant, you must have at least £50,000 available to invest in your business or have already invested £50,000 in your business.  
  • Your business idea must also have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has positively assessed your new business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business venture;
  • You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application;
  • You do not intend to work in the UK other than for the business(es) you have established;
  • You are competent in the English language to at least IELTS 5.5;
  • You have at least £945 (additional to any investment funds required) and £630 per dependent available to support you and your family members without relying on public funds.

Investment Funds

You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for an Innovator visa to set up a new business. The funding can come from any source. There is no need for any investment funds if the business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.

You do not need to be the sole founder of your business and you may be a member of an innovator team.  However, innovator team members that are required to satisfy an investment funds requirement cannot share the same £50,000 but must instead have at least £50,000 investment funds each. 


If the endorsing body confirms that the funds are available to the applicant, then no further evidence is required. However, if some or all of the funds are not confirmed as available by that body, then the funding provider has to write a signed declaration explaining how they know the applicant, the sum being provided, and confirming that the funds have not been promised to anyone else.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Your initial Innovator visa will be valid for 3 years. 
It is possible to extend an Innovator visa for periods of 3 years at a time.  There is no maximum time limit in the category.


You will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) after spending 3 years in the Innovator visa category.
 In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator you must again be endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that is satisfied that you have shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement, you are a registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, your business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months, you have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business ventures.

You will also have to satisfy at least two of the following:

  • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering your business plan;
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary for at least £25,000 a year;
  • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers with no average salary requirement;
  • The number of 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;
  • The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK;
  • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts;
  • The business has generated 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.

In order to qualify for settlement you will also need to have spent not more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the 3 year period of your visa and have sufficient knowledge of English and Life in the UK.


You will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body with checkpoints at 6, 12 and 24 months after your application is successful.  The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress in relation to either your original or a new business idea that is innovative, scalable and viable. Your endorsement may be withdrawn and your leave curtailed if this is not the case.


Changing status to an Innovator Visa

It is possible to change status to an Innovator Visa if the you are inside the UK and hold one of the following visas:

  • Start-up Visa
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa
  • Tier 2 Visa
  • Visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur. This is a specified category under Appendix FM and would require proof of entry clearance in that category.

Business Matching

In some circumstances, Sterling Immigration can offer a business matching service for entrepreneurs who have yet to decide on the type of business they want to set up in the UK. These business ideas have already been pre-approved by one of the designated endorsing bodies. We will work with you to identify a suitable option and conduct necessary due diligence checks.

Our team of immigration lawyers has experience in assisting all types of startup businesses.  Our lawyers are experts in the immigration options for startups and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

For further information, please schedule a consultation.

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