You can apply for an Innovator visa if:
- you want to set up and run an innovative business in the UK - it must be something that’s different from anything else on the market
- your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body, also known as an endorsing body
- you meet the other eligibility requirements
If you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
If you or your family member started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.
The deadline to apply was 30 June 2021 for most people. You can still apply if either:
- you have a later deadline - for example, you’re joining a family member in the UK who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for being unable to apply by 30 June 2021 - for example, you had an illness or were the victim of domestic abuse
Otherwise you need a visa to work in the UK.
Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.
You must be able to show that your business idea is:
- new - you cannot join a business that is already trading
- innovative - you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
- viable, with potential for growth
Knowledge of English
You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.
If you’re not eligible for an Innovator visa
You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.
How long you can stay
You can stay for 3 years if you either:
- come to the UK on an Innovator visa
- switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK
If you want to stay longer in the UK
You can apply to extend your stay for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There’s no limit on the number of times you can extend.
You may be able to apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for 3 years.
If your endorsement is withdrawn
Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
How to apply
You must apply online.
How you apply depends on whether you’re:
- outside the UK and are coming to the UK
- inside the UK and extending your current visa
- inside the UK and switching from a different visa
You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.
How long it takes
As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.
You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.
Getting a decision
Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:
- 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
- 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK
How much you pay for an Innovator visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.
|Who you’re applying for||Apply (outside the UK)||Extend or switch (in the UK)|
|Your partner and children||£1,021 each person||£1,277 each person|
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.
You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.
Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
If you’re from an eligible country
Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re from one of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
This reduction only applies to your visa application. Your partner and children will still need to pay the full application fee.
If you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK
You may need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.
What you can and cannot do
With an Innovator visa you can:
- 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 your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
- travel abroad and return to the UK
- apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 3 years and meet the other eligibility requirements
- do any work outside your business, for example work where you’re employed by another business
- work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
- apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with an Innovator visa.