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Innovator and Start-up Visa

Visa routes of Start-up and Innovator for foreign entrepreneurs wishing to come to the UK were launched not long ago, in March 2019. They have not yet fallen into a routine and applications have not been that many, but they are said to be perfect solutions for businessmen aiming at conquering the British market. Our business immigration experts are on hand to provide advice when it comes to start-up and innovator visas.

Innovator or Start-up: what is the difference

It is worth mentioning straight away that both visas are good for basically any business and not just IT technologies as has been commonly misunderstood. A Start-up visa was introduced to replace a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa granted to graduates of UK higher education institutions. A Start-up visa works for a wider pool of entrepreneurs. An Innovator visa replaced a Tier 1 Entrepreneur route.


Both innovators and start-up entrepreneurs must have their business idea endorsed, i.e. approved, by one of the authorised organisations. They include investment firms, incubators and accelerators working in various fields and located in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

Innovators must prove that they intend to open a new company or invest in an existing one; either way the business must be scalable. A business idea must be also innovative and viable. The same applies to a Start-up visa. To get approval, you must provide a valid business plan made to the highest British standards.

Moreover, once you get a visa, you must keep in touch with your endorsing body and report your achievements and results. If your business is not as successful as was forecasted, your endorsement can be withdrawn, and you would have to start the whole thing anew. As of today the lists of approved bodies for Innovators and Start-ups coincide. However, we recommend checking the relevant list for each category.

How much is the application fee?

Application fee for start-up visas is £363, for Innovators – £1,021. Bear in mind that you will need to pay the same for each dependant joining you in the UK. By the way, eligible dependants include a spouse and minor children.

Besides, you must have your bank statements ready to show you have sufficient funds to support yourself and a family in the UK – £945 for the main applicant and £630 for each dependant.

The decision should be made within three weeks.

Our immigration lawyers have many years of experience in helping our clients get their visas and solve their immigration and legal issues. We’re here to provide advice when it comes to start-up and innovator visas.  Contact us here to find out more.

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