Guidance on Appendix W: Innovator & Start-up Visas – what you need to know


Here we are going to discuss how to get Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) through the Start-up and Innovator visas.

1. How to qualify for the Start-up Visa:

The eligibility requirements include;

  • You must get endorsed from an approved body before you apply for this visa. Here is a list of approved bodies 
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have a sufficient level of English.

This can be done by either:

    • passing the English language test;
    • having an academic qualification taught in the English language which is the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
  • You must be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK.
    • This means you need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

2. ILR through the Start-up visa route: 

The UK government will not grant you ILR through this visa route, you will need to switch to the Innovator visa route.

3. How to qualify for the Innovator Visa: 

The eligibility requirements include;

    • They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

You must also:

  • meet the English language requirement
  • be at least 18 years old
  • be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK

4. ILR through the Innovator visa route: 

  • Having a valid innovator visa for three years;
  • Having sufficient knowledge of the English language and sufficient knowledge about life in the UK;
  • Not breaching any immigration laws;
  • Meeting the continuous residence requirement;
    • Continuous residence regards the time that you’ve spent in the UK without any gaps. This means you will need to be here in the UK on the Innovator visa for three years before applying for ILR. Time spent in the UK on the start-up visa will not count. Any absences from the UK will not break the continuous period provided they total less than 180 days.
  • An endorsement is required again for the settlement application. This time, you will need to demonstrate how your business has progressed in order to meet the settlement criteria. Moreover, you will need to satisfy all the conditions below in order to qualify for ILR, for instance:
    • You must show significant progress, judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement;
    • Your business must be registered and you must be listed as a director or member of that business;
    • Your business must be active and trading;
    • Your business must appear to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses;
    • You must demonstrate an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.