News article

New UK Innovator visa

8 April 2019

Government introduces a new Innovator visa for entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in the UK

The government has recently announced two new visa routes for entrepreneurs, investors and those with exceptional talent looking to set up or run a business in the UK:

  • the Start-up visa
  • the Innovator visa

Find information on the new UK Start-up visa here.

The Innovator visa is for experienced business people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland that are seeking to establish a business in the UK.

Innovator visa: eligibility
Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body.  Authorised bodies will have eligibility criteria.

For example, Invest Northern Ireland is an approved body that can issue endorsements for Innovator visas. To be eligible for endorsement you must be a participant in their Ignite Accelerator Programme or be an existing customer with Invest Northern Ireland.

Applicants should have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea. They also need to:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have their business or business idea endorsed by an approved body
  • meet the English language requirement
  • prove that they have enough personal savings to support themselves while in the UK

Applicants should also have a minimum of £50,000 of investment funds if they want to set up a new business in the UK. Those with already established businesses, or businesses endorsed for an earlier visa, will not require investment funds.

Successful applicants will be granted leave for three years. They will be able to:

  • bring their partners and children under 18 (or over 18 if dependant) to the UK
  • work on developing their business venture (as self-employed, a director or a partner)

They will not be able to access public funds or take on other employment outside their business.

After three years, visa holders can apply to extend their stay for a further three years. Once they've been in the UK for five years, they can also apply to settle permanently. Initial application, extension and settlement all require endorsement from an approved body.

Find out more about the Innovator visa.