The Start-up and Innovator visa categories are for people setting up a new business in the UK which are:



1. Innovative

The applicant's business is original, creates competitive advantage and is something new.



2. Viable 

The applicant's business demonstrates realistic sustainability and long-term success.



3. Scalable

The applicant's business demonstrates potential growth, through job creation and growth into national markets.

What are the Start-up and Innovator Visa Schemes?


The Start-up and Innovator visa categories are for non-European Economic Area nationals wishing to set up a business in the UK. To qualify for a visa, applicants must obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body - such as Sapphire Capital Partners LLP.


Start-up Visa

  • For early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs (who want to start a business in the UK for the first time);
  • No funds are required (applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage);
  • Two-year visa offered (it offers a one-off, two-year visa, during which the 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);
  • You can bring your family members (successful applicants can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18 can be brought into the UK); and
  • Switch to Innovator visa (at the end of the two years, applicants can switch into the Innovator category - see below - to extend their stay and develop business in the UK).

Innovator Visa

  • For more experienced business people (who seek to establish a business in the UK);
  • £50,000 required (applicants need a minimum of £50,000 funding available to invest in their business - which can come from an endorsing body such as Sapphire Capital Partners LLP);
  • You must work 100% on the business (innovators must work entirely on developing their business ventures and not take on other employment outside their business);
  • Three-year visa offered (applicants are granted leave for three years at a time);
  • You can bring your family members (successful innovators can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18 can be brought into the UK); and
  • Extend your stay (successful innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further three years or to settle permanently in the UK).

Sapphire as an endorsing body.

It is very important that any entrepreneur wishing to obtain the startup or innovator visa first obtains an endorsement from an approved body - such as Sapphire Capital Partners LLP. We are here to ensure that your business meets the three key criteria - being innovation, viability and scalability.

  • Issue endorsements (we use our own measures in order to assess if your business meets the three key criteria - being:
    • Innovation: Do you have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?
    • Viability: Do you have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business?
    • Scalability: Is there evidence of a structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets?
    • Our endorsement will be in the form of an endorsing letter which you will use to support your visa application); 
  • Stay in contact (we will stay in touch with you at checkpoints after six and 12 and (in the Innovator category) 24 months, and assess your progress); and
  • For innovator visas (we can issue further endorsements for extension and settlement applicants).


Our eBook guide will help you understand the Start-up and Innovator Visa process.


  • The Role of Endorsing Bodies and the Home Office.

  • The Three Key Criteria to Endorsing. 

  • Types of Endorsement for Start-up and Innovator Visas.

The eBook will save you valuable time and energy in your quest to receive a Start-up and Innovator Visa and hopefully help you to reduce the time it takes to apply for a visa.

The Sapphire Guide to Start-up and Innovator Visas.

Download the Guide Now

£18.00 (VAT Inc)

(Approx. US$26.62)

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Frequently Ask Questions

I already have a business in the UK, can I still apply for a Start-up or Innovator visa?

Please refer to the Government Website for the eligibility criteria for Innovator and Start-up Visas.

My application was rejected by Sapphire, can I re-apply for endorsement?

If you use the same business plan, the application will automatically be rejected. In the case of a new business plan/idea, this will be assessed on its own.


Third-Party Review

Sapphire Capital accepts applications directly and through trusted third-party intermediaries (such as Seed Mentors Entrepreneurs Limited). For any direct applications, Sapphire Capital will outsource an initial review of the application to one of the trusted third-party intermediaries if we believe that the application may be of interest to us (and consequently we will, therefore, share your data with them). They may charge you a fee for their initial review which will be confidential to us and they may seek further information directly from you.


Although Sapphire Capital does not charge any fees for considering applications, the third-party introducers (such as Seed Mentors Entrepreneurs Limited) who approach us may charge fees or seek equity for services they provide to their clients. Such arrangements do not involve Sapphire Capital.



IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to the large number of applications being considered we are not able to consider further applications at this time. We shall place a notice on the site as soon as the position changes.

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