The United Kingdom’s Tier 1 visa immigration scheme is part of the five tier points based visa system for immigration to the UK. Tier 1 visas are for eligible entrepreneurs, investors, and for the very small number of people who can come under the “Exceptional Talent” visa category.

The Start Up and Innovator route replaced the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur route from 29 March 2019. Extension applications for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will remain open until 5 April 2023, and settlement applications until 5 April 2025.

Tier 1 Innovator

The Startup and Innovator visa categories are for non-EEA nationals wishing to set up a business in the UK. To qualify for a visa in either category, applicants must first obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body. All applications will be assessed for Innovation, Viability and Scalability.

The Innovator category is for more experienced business people seeking to establish a business in the UK. 

  • Applicants will need a minimum £50,000 funding available to invest in their business.
  • Successful Innovators are granted leave for 3 years at a time and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.
  • Innovators must work entirely on developing their business ventures and may not take on other employment outside their business. This includes anything which effectively amounts to employment, such as using their own business to hire out their labour to another employer.
  • After 3 years, Innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further 3 years or to settle permanently in the UK. Each of these 3 stages (initial application, extension, settlement) requires endorsement from an endorsing body.

How to get endorsement for the Innovator Visa?

The Innovator visa will require its applicants to submit a business plan and other supporting documents in order for them to be endorsed. The endorsement will be from a business sponsor and will be mandatory for all applicants.The Startup and Innovator visa routes may be operated by the endorsing bodies as either an open (public) or closed (selective) applications process. Please see a list of current endorsing bodies here.

For more information on Tier 1 Innovator category or for detailed advice, call one of our expert Immigration lawyers on 0330 058 3929. You can check your eligibility by submitting a case evaluation request here.