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UK Tier 1 Innovator Visa


With the new immigration rules taking effect on 29th March announced in the earlier published Statement of Changes HC1919. The newly effected rules have ended the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Route and the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur Visas are no longer available. Innovator Visa has replaced the Entrepreneur category with the introduction of Appendix W in the UK Immigration Rules.

The Innovator Route is for those entrepreneurs who would be looking for setting-up their business in the UK and likely this category is targeting more experienced business persons. The business must be endorsed by the approved respected bodies and applicants must demonstrate that their business is viable, credible and innovative. Applicants will be no longer required to invest at least £200,000 into their business, unlike how it was required in the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Innovator Route does lead to settlement but there are specific requirements and general requirements that need to be met.


An applicant must have their business plans assessed by the approved body as given in the list issued by the UK Government before applying for the Innovator Route. The approved body will then provide you with an endorsement letter, which will be required for the applicant to show when providing required documents. The endorsement letter will show whether applicant’s business is viable or not. Applicant’s business ideas will be assessed on the criteria of whether it is credible, viable and scalable or not. Therefore, an applicant must look for fulfilling such requirements in order to be eligible to apply.

Applicants eligible for the Innovator Visa Route as given in Appendix W are;

  • You are 18 years of age or above
  • The specified evidential documents provided
  • Applicant must prove that they have sufficient personal savings in order to support themselves
  • In order to support themselves, applicants must not earn money while working illegally in the UK, nether they should be using money from their investment funds or sharing investment funds
  • Applicant should have investment funds of minimum £50,000 for setting up a new business under Innovator category
  • You can be a part of another Innovative team but the applicant cannot share the same investment funds
  • Each applicant must have £50,000 in the team such as having 3 Innovator applicants then the team must have £150,000 for investment
  • Funding can be done from any source
  • Applicant will not be required to show any funding, if they have an established business that is endorsed for an earlier work visa
  • You must not be in breach of the UK Immigration laws
  • Credibility assessment must be satisfied by the applicant
  • Applicant must be required to have the CEFR B2 level of English language ability to meet the English Language Requirement
  • Applicant is not required to be the sole founder of the business as he can be part of another team with other Innovator applicants
  • You must have the maintenance funds of £945 before applying and it must be in the applicant’s bank account for consecutive 90 days
  • Applicants must be endorsed by the approved body as listed


The main requirement for the Innovator Route is to fulfill the endorsement criteria, where the approved body will be satisfied by the applicant that his business idea is viable, scalable and innovative. Following, the applicant will get the endorsement letter, if the concerned body is satisfied.

The endorsement criteria for the 3 main requirements are as follow;

  • Innovation; An applicant must provide credible proofs of business idea that would likely satisfy the already existing or new market needs and will be fostering the atmosphere of healthy competitive advantage in the UK business area
  • An applicant should be having good knowledge and awareness of the current market situations and he must satisfy that his viable skills will be benefitting the UK business market in a far better way
  • Scalability; it should also be demonstrated evidently that their business plan has the potential for creating employments and there is a structured planning for the whole business plan

Along with the above mentioned endorsement criteria, there are other general requirements as well for the newly introduced Innovator Route. The minimum funding of £50,000 will be required for investment in the business, which has been decreased from £200,000 as required earlier for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. There is no prior requirement of being a graduate to establish a business but it must be understood that endorsement is compulsory. The endorsement must evidently demonstrated for the stages when initiating, applying and further settlement, where the applicant’s credibility will be checked.

The Innovator Route is likely targeting experienced business persons. It is aimed to expand this category in order to attract a new cesspool of talented innovators, driving the UK economy towards generating employment opportunities.  The application fee for the Innovator visa will be the same as set for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa £1021 (entry clearance) and £1277 (switch in-country) as confirmed by the Home Office. Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) is presently charged £400 per annum.


The duration of the Start-Up visa is 2 years, which is increased now as it was one year only under graduate entrepreneur route. In this way more time is provided to people and businesses to be developed and expanded. It allows the person also to consider switching up to the Innovator Visa after the end of the period of 2 years.

Work and Settlement

The Start-Up Route will be endorsed by the business experts and bodies instead of the Home Office, in order to assess the business ideas of the applicants. As this way it will be ensured that most scalable, viable and innovative businesses are being focused through these new visa routes. It is clearly confirmed by the UK Government that the Start-Up Visa will not be leading to permanent settlement in the UK, after getting your visa. Applicants will be able to bring in their family members or dependants with the same UK immigration rules as currently applied to UK immigrant workers. Moreover, after the end of your two years period, visa can be upgraded to Innovator Route, which may lead to direct permanent settlement in the UK

How to switch it to Innovator Visa

After getting visa through Start-Up Route, if a person wishes to switch to Innovator Route then he must be eligible after the end of his two year period, subject to fulfillment of two requirements.  Additionally, an endorsement letter will be required for settlement at this stage. If the applicant’s business under Start-Up Route achieves two of the following requirements then he may be able to successfully apply for settlement.

  • The applicant’s business has been successful in creating at least 5 full-time jobs or its equivalent for workers residing in the UK, providing an average salary of about £25,000 or above per annum (excluding expenses, gross pay)
  • At least equivalent of 10 full-time jobs for residing workers has been created by the applicant’s business
  • With minimum of £500,000 annual gross revenue must be generated in the last full year covered by its accounts, while getting at least £100,000 from overseas exports
  • Annual gross revenue of minimum £1 million must be generated by the applicant’s business in the last full year covered by its accounts
  • Business has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK and has been involved in significant development and research activity
  • Minimum of £50,000, is already invested in the applicant’s business and business plan is actively being furthered through this funding, which is assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement
  • Within the most recent last 3 years, applicant’s business customers has to be at least doubled and presently having higher that the mean number of customers as compared to other businesses in the UK market offering similar main services or products