This article has been reviewed by Wego’s editorial team to ensure that the content is up to date & accurate.

Updated July 2023

In addition to being a highly sought-after destination for study, work, and residence, the UK actively embraces aspiring entrepreneurs and forward-thinking individuals from all corners of the world. With the UK innovator visa, you are presented with an exclusive chance to establish and manage your distinctive business within the UK, fostering innovation and enriching the nation’s dynamic business environment.

What is the UK innovator visa?

The innovator founder visa allows residents to come to the UK and establish a business. It’s designed for foreign entrepreneurs looking to set up their businesses in the UK.

Once granted the innovator founder visa, the holder is permitted to work for their established business and take up additional employment, provided the role requires a skill level of at least RQF Level 3, equivalent to UK A Levels.

Moreover, the visa holder’s immediate family members, such as their partner and dependent children, can join them in the UK under a dependant visa. These family members have the freedom to engage in any type of work during their stay, except for roles as sportspersons or coaches. Additionally, they can pursue studies if they wish to do so.

UK innovator visa requirements

To qualify for the UK innovator founder visa, applicants must fulfill the following requirements:

  • demonstrate proficiency in the English language at a B2 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale, which includes reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English.
  • be at least 18 years old.
  • provide evidence of sufficient personal savings to support yourself during your stay in the UK.
  • intend to establish and operate an innovative business in the UK, which should offer a unique product or service not currently available in the market.
  • obtain an endorsement from an approved body, also known as an endorsing body, for your business or business idea.

UK innovator visa application

Endorsing bodies

Wego’s team research found that to apply for a UK innovator visa, you must first obtain an endorsement from an approved UK endorsing body. These endorsing bodies are organizations designated by the Home Office to evaluate the eligibility of applicants for the innovator founder visa. Please check out this list of authorized Endorsing Bodies that can issue endorsements for the innovator founder visa.

During the endorsement process, you will be required to demonstrate to the endorsing body that you possess sufficient funding for your business venture and provide information about the source of these funds.

However, you are not required to show any investment funds if either of the following conditions applies:

  1. Your business is already established and has previously received endorsement for a different visa.
  2. You have made changes to your business plan and received approval for those changes from your endorsing body.

Required documents

  • an ‘endorsement letter’ to show that an endorsing body has assessed your business or business idea.
  • a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

UK innovator visa application process

According to official government source, before applying for a UK innovator visa, you will have to verify your identity and submit the necessary documents. If you require an appointment for this purpose, it is advisable to allocate extra time accordingly. You will be informed whether an appointment is necessary when you commence your application.

If you do need an appointment:

  • the center may need to keep your passport and documents while they process your application
  • you may have to travel to get to your nearest visa application center (this could be in another country)

After verifying your identity, you may start applying for the innovator founder visa online here.

UK innovator visa processing time

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity, and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

UK innovator visa fee

The fee for the innovator founder visa costs £1,036 per person. If you want to apply for your partner and children, then you will have to pay the same amount for each person.

Notably, you must pay the visa fee for each person that applies at the same time as you or applies later to join you in the UK.

In addition, you will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. You can check how much you will have to pay before you apply.

UK innovator visa extension

The innovator founder visa is valid for 3 years.

Once you hold an innovator founder visa and wish to continue operating your business in the UK or plan to establish a new one, you are generally eligible to apply for an extension of your visa.

However, it’s essential to note that if you have a partner or child on a dependent visa, their visa will not automatically be extended along with yours. Their visa will remain valid until its original expiration date. To ensure their continued stay in the UK, they have two options:

  1. They can apply for an extension at the same time as you when you apply for your visa extension.
  2. Alternatively, they can apply for an extension at any time before their current visa expires.

Additionally, when seeking an extension for your innovator founder visa, you will be required to have your business or business idea reassessed by an endorsing body. This assessment is necessary as part of the visa extension process.

UK innovator visa path to citizenship

If the applicant is making a settlement (indefinite leave to remain) application, the endorsement letter must confirm that the endorsement criteria continue to be satisfied and the business must be shown to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months.

Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.


The applicant must fulfill the criterias to be qualified for UK innovator visa settlement.

  • lived in the UK for 3 years using an innovator founder or innovator visa – you cannot include time spent in the UK using any other visa
  • a new endorsement that shows you’ve met the requirements for growing your business


If you’re 18 to 64 you must pass the Life in the UK Test.

Time outside the UK

You must have spent no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 months.


It costs £2,404 for each person applying. In addition, you will each need to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken – there’s no fee for this.

Processing time

You will usually get a decision within 6 months for the UK innovator visa settlement.


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