Innovator visa

For an Innovative, Viable, Scalable business!

UK Innovator visa replaced Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category in 2019. It is open to everyone with a suitable business idea, including European citizens coming to the UK after Brexit from 1 January 2021. You may be an experienced entrepreneur outside the UK or may be only planning your first ever business – you can also join a British company that is already trading and help to develop it with your investment and innovation.

This visa is issued for 3 years, leads to settlement in the UK after minimum 3 years (typically 5 years) and to British Citizenship after 5-6 years. 

The first step is to secure endorsement of your business idea.  You can pitch your business plan to a business organisation that is on the UK Government list of the designated endorsing bodies for an Innovator visa. Most of them require participation in their own acceleration programme (such as Tech Nation for digital technology businesses) and some even insist on investing in your business for % of future profits. Some focus on specific industries (such as biochemistry or cyber security) but a few do not impose any limiting criteria (Emsworth).  

These are examples, for your particular situation please contact us for a consultation. 

Under the Immigration Rules, your business has to be Innovative, Viable and Scalable. In practice, the following ideas are likely to be accepted:

Cloud technology, such as Software As A Service (SaaS) platforms. 

Mobile applications and technology in the food and drinks industry.

Mobile applications and use of technology in financial services (“fintech”).

Mobile application and use of technology in the property industry (“proptech”): construction, property management, housing, such as SaaS platform for housing associations.

Mobile applications and use of technology in travel/transport (“traveltech”), such as providing SaaS platform for taxi companies. 

Supply of technology and Artificial Intelligence to the retail sector. 

Mobile Application in health and fitness industries. 

Development and use of neural-control interface (NCI).

Innovations in pharmaceutical, biochemical and similar industries.

3D Printing and Virtual Reality.


The list is not exhaustive. Unlike the old Tier 1 visas, this category does not prevent from residential property development or property investment but such an idea is unlikely to pass the “Innovation” criteria. If you, however, have an innovative idea (even not on the list above), please get in touch for a more detailed consultation.

We are immigration entrepreneurs with over 10 years of successful experience. Business visas are one of our specialities. A good business plan is vital to secure an endorsement. It has to describe your business idea but also to explain how you will be meeting specific UK visa requirements. 

1st 4Immigration is unique: we offer a one-stop shop for UK business visas. All under one roof: a business plan, help with endorsement and a visa. Plus we have a well-trusted support network for your business needs: accountants, tax advisers, employment lawyers, business insurance providers and similar professionals every business needs. 

While you hold an Innovator visa, initial or extension, you have to meet certain conditions, as specified in the UK Immigration Rules. Such conditions need to be met in advance, i.e. not just before your extension or settlement application.   

Our  compliance service covers this: we will be acting as your point of advice before the time comes to apply for a further visa. Any question – just drop us a message, call, or schedule a meeting. One fixed fee covers a whole year of our qualified and experienced support! 

An initial Innovator visa is issued for 3 years. If your business has grown rapidly and met the requirements for Settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR), you can apply for settlement at that point. 

In most cases, however, it will take longer to meet the qualifying conditions for ILR, so you can apply for extension for another 3 years. You will need a new endorsement, which can be from the same or a different organisation from the Government-approved list. You also need a new endorsement if (and evert time) you change a business activity. You can then apply for Settlement as soon as you have met after the ILR criteria, it does not need to be after X number of years, such as don’t have to wait for 5 years if you have met the criteria after 3.5 years. 

There is no limit on the number of extensions, so you can keep extending again and again, every time for 3 years and until you qualify for Settlement or switch to another category. Every extension requires a new endorsement.

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