Start up and Innovator visa endorsing bodies: guidance

If you are an organisation and want to find out how to become an endorsing body and how to carry out duties as an endorsing body, the Home Office have recently issued guidance on Start-up and Innovator visa endorsing bodies.

Here’s what you need to know.

(Updated as of 01 December 2020)

What is an endorsing body?

Endorsing bodies include leading incubators, accelerators, government agencies and business development organisations. The main requirement is that you must have a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, including settled workers.

This means you provide funding, mentoring or other forms of support to help entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running. You must have a record of supporting UK entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, who are looking to grow their business.”

What is the role of an endorsing body?

An endorsing body issues endorsement based on the criteria in this guidance. You will have your own measures of what makes a good business idea, and the freedom to apply these criteria as you think best. Your endorsement will be in the form of an endorsing letter. Additionally, as an endorsing body, you will stay in contact with business founders at 6, 12 and 24-month intervals to unsure they are progressing accordingly and not in breach of their visa conditions.

What is a Start-up?

“The Start-up category is for early stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs who are starting a business in the UK for the first time. They may have already begun setting up their business, but it should not yet have commenced trading. Funds are not required by applicants to invest at this stage. Though a one off, 2-year visa may be offered for applicants to focus on cultivating their business, other work can be conducted outside of the business to provide extra income.”

What is an Innovator?            

“The Innovator category is for more experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants will usually need a minimum £50,000 funding available to invest in their business (This does not have to come from their endorsing body, although some endorsing bodies may choose to offer this funding). 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.

Successful Innovators are granted leave for 3 years at a time and can bring their family members to the UK. After 3 years, Innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further 3 years or to settle permanently in the UK”.

How do I apply for a Start Up visa?

Applications for Start-up visas must be made online and the method of application is dependent on whether you’re:

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

How do I apply for an Innovator visa?

Applications for Innovator visas must be made online and the method of application is dependent on whether you’re:

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

Please be advised that the above information is not exhaustive as there are more requirements and points to consider.

For more information provided by Bolton’s leading Immigration Solicitors on entering the UK as an S2 Healthcare Visitor, send an email to or contact us on 01204 531 535 to book a telephone/Skype consultation. The fee is £30.

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