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Start Up and Innovator Visas

Two new visa categories not to be missed

29 March 2019 marked another important date in UK immigration calendar. No, it is not the anticipated Brexit date but the introduction of two new (amongst other) visa categories to the immigration rules.

The Startup and Innovator visa categories (or Appendix W) are now in force replacing the decade-old Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories.

Bygone were the days when an entrepreneur with £200,000 wishing to set-up a consultancy business or a coffee shop or using their skills to join up with an existing company in the UK able to set up their first venture here. Instead, the Startup and Innovator visas wish to focus on something, more important than money - innovation, viability and scalability — something the Home Office deem much more important than a simple injection of cash.

So, what are these routes and how do they operate.


The Start-up category is for early-stage and innovative businesses wishing to kick-start a business in the UK for the first time.

An extension (effectively) to the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route, an entrepreneur will develop their business idea (with a view of establishing a business) in the UK. The entrepreneur will not need to invest any funds into the business nor is there a need to employ any resident workers.

However, the entrepreneur must have their business idea endorsed by an #endorsing body before being able to apply for the startup visa.

Entrepreneurs are granted leave for two years with no direct route to settlement. Following the two year period, the entrepreneur may extend their stay by switching into the Innovator visa (details below) and develop their business in the UK.

Entrepreneurs granted a visa under this category may also work outside of their business, providing that the majority of their time is spent developing their business idea/business.


The Innovator category is for experienced entrepreneurs seeking to establish a venture in the UK.

A seeming revival of the old Innovator Visa abolished around 15 years ago with a twist.

Innovators are required to invest a minimum of £50,000 in their business. Similar to the Startup Visa, the Innovator visa requires a prior endorsement from an #endorsing body to apply for the visa.

Should the #endorsing body deem the business to be innovative, viable and scalable, an applicant can apply for a visa with a three-year leave granted to the innovator.

Innovators can only work for their business(es) only.

Innovators can team up with to establish the same company, but each innvoator must invest a minimum of £50,000 into the business.

This route leads to settlement after three years.

Both of the above visa categories aim to attract the best and the brightest to the UK. A valiant effort in maintaining the UK's reputation of being the destination of choice for innovation.

Shores & Legal are experienced and expert immigration partners for your business and personal immigration requirements. If you wish to discuss your UK immigration requirements, contact us at +44 (0) 207 097 6778 or

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