You can apply for an Innovator visa if:
- you want to set up or run a business in the UK;
- you are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland;
- you meet the other eligibility requirements;
- your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body.
You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you want to set up a new business. You do not need funds if your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa.
You must be able to show that your business idea is:
- a new idea - you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading,
- viable, with potential for growth.
Read the endorsing bodies list - you should only approach ones that are suitable for your business idea.
How long it takes to get a visa
The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.
How much you pay for an Innovator visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.
You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you will have to pay before you apply.
If you are applying to extend or switch in the UK
You will need to pay to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.
How long you can stay
You can stay for 3 years if you:
- come to the UK on an Innovator visa,
- switch to this visa from another visa.
You can apply to extend for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend. You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you have been in the UK for 3 years.
If your endorsement is withdrawn
Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
What you can and cannot do
- set up a business or several businesses;
- work for your business - this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership;
- bring family members with you.
- do any work outside your business, for example work where you are employed by another business;
- work as a doctor or dentist in training;
- work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach;
- get public funds.