Oct 20, 2022
 minutes read

Start-Up and Innovator Visa: Knowing the difference

UK Immigration

It is important to choose a Visa that is best suited to your situation, as it will increase your chances of success when applying. As the UK immigration laws can be complex, it is not always obvious what may be the most appropriate route for you.

We often receive the question of differences between Start-up and Innovator Visas in the UK. In this short post, we’ll cover the main differences between both visas, so you can decide which one may be best suited to you.

Why choose a Start-up Visa?

The Start-up Visa is for new entrepreneurs that want to set up their business in the United Kingdom for the first time. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, meet the English language requirement (level B2 CEFR) and, of course, want to set up an innovative business in the UK to fill a gap in the UK market. Proof of sufficient personal savings is required, proving that you have at least £1270 (for the applicant), £285 for a partner, £315 for the first child, and £200 per additional child for a minimum of 28 days.

The applicant must note that the Start-up Visa does not lead to Settlement; however, after 2 years, you can switch to an Innovator Visa, which presents the opportunity to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

As a Start-up Visa holder, you can work at your start-up business and elsewhere. The Start-up Visa allows you to bring over family members (such as partners and children).

An extremely crucial element of the application process is your business proposal. The endorsing body will assess your business on the merit of its innovation, viability, and scalability:

  • Innovation: Showing that your business has a competitive advantage.
  • Viability: Showing that your business plan is achievable due to its realistic nature of accessing employees and resources, and you withhold the necessary skills to run the business successfully.
  • Scalability: Providing documents and plans show the ability to grow the business, allowing it to create jobs within the market.

Why choose an Innovator visa?

The Innovator Visa is deemed an escalated route, lasting three years with the ability to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The Innovator Visa is worth considering if you have a new, original business idea that is viable and scalable. The Innovator Visa does come with monetary requirements, including a minimum English Language requirement of CEFR Level B2.

To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, with £50,000 available to invest in your UK business. You must have satisfied the innovation, viability, and scalability threshold and be endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body within the last 90 days of your application. Furthermore, you will need to prove the ability to support yourself during your stay, requiring at least £1,270 (for the applicant), £285 for a partner, £315 for the first child, and £200 per additional child for a minimum of 28 days.

Endorsing bodies endorse your application, and only organisations from this list can support your business plan.

Start-up Visa vs Innovator Visa: Which one should you choose?

The Start-up Visa is a longer route if you aim to seek Settled status in the UK, taking up to at least five years until you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (two years’ Start-up Visa plus three years on an Innovator Visa).

However, with no minimum requirement for funds to invest and an affordable application cost, it is a good route for those with ambitious ideas, including graduates and those without previous business experience. The Start-up Visa offers the opportunity to set up an innovative business plan in the United Kingdom without being restricted due to a lack of funds and qualifications.

The Innovator Visa requires you to have £50,000 to invest and spend on your business, and the application cost is higher than the Start-up Visa. However, the route towards Settlement is quicker, giving you three years and the ability to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain following the end of your visa.

An applicant can complete the Start-up Visa application to switch to the Innovator Visa later, bypassing the £50,000 requirement.

Here is a helpful summary of the differences between a Start-Up and an Innovator Visa:

start-up visa vs innovator visa

Help to apply

Whether you apply for a Start-up Visa or an Innovator Visa, our team of experienced legal professionals will support you to help you build a strong case, with all the relevant documentation handled and submitted efficiently and promptly.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with a Start-up Visa or an Innovator Visa application, you can contact a team member.

Please call 0203 637 8633 or email info@qc-immigration.com today. Our fees are fixed and affordable.

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