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 close family member started living in the UK before 1 January 2021, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

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:

1. new - you cannot join a business that is already trading

2. innovative - you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market

3. 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:

1. come to the UK on an Innovator visa

2. 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If your endorsement is withdrawn

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body.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:

1. outside the UK and are coming to the UK

2. inside the UK and extending your current visa

3. inside the UK and switching from a different visa

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:

1. 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK

2. 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK

If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

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

What you can and cannot do

With a Start-up visa you can:

bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible

work in another job, as well as working for your business

travel abroad and return to the UK

You can also switch to this visa from some other visa categories.You cannot:

apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension

work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach

settle in the UK on this visa

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Start-up visa.

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