Innovator Visas and Startup Visas: What’s the difference? And what’s right for you?

What’s the difference between the Innovator Visa and the Startup Visa?

Which one is right for you?

The UK Government wants to attract the best and brightest business people of today and of the future. To do this they have created two visas; the Innovator Visa and the Startup Visa. 

Though similar, there are important differences between these two visas and it’s important to know which visa is right for you before applying. This article will lay out the differences so you can safely know what visa is appropriate for you. 

Note that we also offer the UK Self Sponsorship Programme (Skilled Worker Visa) for Entrepreneurs

Similarities between Innovator Visas and Startup Visas

Well, first let’s look at the similarities of the visas:

  • Both visas allow you to bring your partner and child with you to the UK.
  • Both visas allow you to travel to and from the UK.
  • Both require your business to be innovative and different to companies already in the market.
  • Both require the business to be viable and scalable.
  • Both require proof that you have met the English language requirement.
  • Both require you to have an endorsing body.

So both visas allow you to move to the UK to set up a business – what’s the difference between them? There are big differences and it’s crucial that you know them so you can make an informed decision about which visa is right for you.

Key Differences between Innovator Visas and Startup Visas

How long your visa lasts 

Both visas allow you to move to the UK to set up a business but there are nuanced differences.

The Innovator Visa allows you to move to the UK for 3 years and this can be renewed at the end of the period. The Startup Visa lasts for 2 years and you cannot renew it so you would have to switch to a different visa, such as the Innovator Visa, if you wished to stay in the UK.

Your financials

For both visas you will need to prove that you are financially stable and have enough savings to live in the UK. The specifics of this, for both visas, is to show that you have at least £1270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before applying. 

For the Innovator Visa you also need to have at least £50,000 in investment funds for you to be considered for the visa. 

With the Startup Visa, you do not have to have any investment funds for your business. This is a key difference. 

How much it costs

The Innovator Visa costs more than the Startup Visa. If you’re applying from outside the UK it costs £1021 for the application and another £1021 for anyone added. Startup Visa costs £363 for the application and an additional £363 for anyone added.

If you’re applying from within the UK it’s £1277 for the Innovator Visa application and another £1277 anyone added. The Startup Visa is £493 for the application and an extra £493 for anyone added. 

Caveat: These details were correct at the time of publication. Before making your decision on which visa to apply for (Startup Visa or Innovator Visa) visit the Gov website which has up to date details.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.