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.
Tech Nation will process endorsement applications on behalf of digital technology entrepreneurs for both of these new routes, building upon our successful operation of the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and extending our support for international entrepreneurs wishing to establish their product-led digital technology businesses in the UK.
We will apply updates to this page when they become available, so please keep checking this page for more information. Below is an overview of each visa route.
Tech Nation had previously announced that we would begin operating the Startup and Innovator visa routes in September 2019. However, as most endorsing bodies for these new routes are only able to endorse applicants for their own programmes, we have decided it is necessary to delay endorsement of the Startup and Innovator visas in order to explore a new Tech Nation initiative that would enable us to support international entrepreneurs.
Our aim is to begin endorsing applications by April 2020 or sooner if possible. Please visit this website for future updates. Below is an overview of each visa route.
The Start-up category is for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs starting a business in the UK for the first time.
- Applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage, and must not have previously set up a business in the UK.
- Successful applicants are granted leave for 2 years and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.
- During the granted period of leave applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses but can also take on other work outside of their businesses, to support themselves.
- At the end of 2 years, Startup visa holders can switch into the Innovator category (see below) to extend their stay and develop their businesses in the UK.
The Innovator category is for more experienced businesspeople 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.
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How to apply?
The Startup and Innovator visa routes may be operated by the endorsing bodies as either an open (public) or closed (selective) applications process.
Tech Nation is currently developing its own initiatives and operating procedures for these routes and is not currently accepting or processing applications.
Further information will be added to this page when it becomes available.
Startup and Innovator Gov.uk pages:
List of official endorsing bodies: