Applicants for certain types of UK Business visas are required to obtain an endorsement from an authorized body as a condition of eligibility; the Innovator visa is one of several business visas that maintain this requirement. If you are considering applying for the Innovator visa, you may be wondering how to obtain an UK Innovator visa endorsement, or even be asking yourself, “what is a visa endorsement?”. Today’s blog is for anyone asking this question, and others, such as, “What is a Business endorsing bodies?”, and “What are the higher education endorsing bodies for the UK Innovator visa?”. Read on for the answer to these questions, and for a step-by-step guide of how to get endorsed for an Innovator visa. Finally, see below to access the complete List of authorised endorsing bodies for UK Innovator visa, and for all other relevant topics pertaining to this specific Innovator visa requirement. 

What is a visa endorsement?

  • If you are applying for an Innovator visa, you will need to receive a visa endorsement, which essentially means the official backing or support of some sort of UK business or educational institution. In addition to receiving an endorsement, the applicant will also usually derive other benefits from the endorsing entity, such as mentorship, access to a local/regional business community, and even sources of funding.
  • Innovator visa endorsements can exclusively be obtained from officially designated entities—i.e. any of those on the below list of authorised endorsing bodies for the UK Innovator visa. 
  • In exchange for receiving an endorsement from one of the authorized bodies on the list, the applicant will commit to fulfilling the terms and conditions offered by the endorsing body. These can include mandatory payments, workshops, and other commitments that are meant to be mutually beneficial to both the endorsing-business and Innovator visa holder.  
  • Different endorsing bodies have different terms and conditions, and not all of them accept all types of applicants. For example, while “Startup Giants plc” accepts applications at any time during the year, “Scottish Edge” exclusively receives endorsement applications twice yearly, from January-March and July-September. If your Innovator visa application is time sensitive, you will want to be mindful of the applying periods available for the available endorsing entities. 

Business endorsing bodies

  • If you have spent any time researching Innovator visas, you may be wondering “What is a Business endorsing bodies?”. A business endorsing body is just that—a business that is accredited (and therefore authorized by the government) to endorse a business concept for an Innovator visa holder. 
  • Exclusively profit-driven entities, business endorsing bodies are therefore separate and distinct from the other category of endorsing bodies: higher education endorsing bodies for UK Innovator visa 

Higher education endorsing bodies

  • Unlike UK business endorsing bodies, higher education bodies are exclusively British universities and colleges that also offer endorsements for Innovator visa holders. 
  • Many higher education endorsing bodies restrict endorsements to Innovator visa-seekers who are current students or alumni. This restriction makes obtaining an endorsement from a higher education body impractical for certain candidates. For example, those who seek an endorsement from Cardiff Metropolitan University should note that the school only considers endorsements of recent Cardiff graduates (eliminating the possibility of non-Cardiff graduates from applying). 
  • However, not all higher education endorsing bodies require applicants to have attended their own institution—some, like the “University of Bradford,” offer endorsements to all eligible candidates who are also university graduates. This means that you could theoretically apply for an endorsement from the University of Bradford even if you never attended school there, so long as you have received a degree from another university.    

Legacy endorsing bodies for UK Innovator visa

  • Legacy bodies are endorsing bodies that no longer off endorsements (essentially, they are retired endorsing bodies, which used to offer endorsements exlusively to migrants but do not do so any longer. 
  • However, while they lack the capacity to authorize new businesses from new Innovator visa applicants, Legacies retain their authorization power over businesses they have previously endorsed. 
  • In this critical sense, legacy endorsing bodies remain viable sources of endorsement for those who received an endorsement from them before they halted issuances. 
  • Having your endorsing body transition into the “legacy” category is not the same thing as being dropped by your endorsing body (a scenario that occurs when an endorsing body declines to maintain your endorsement). If your endorsing bodies drops you, you must obtain another endorsement, from yet another entity on the below list,  in order to remain and work legally in the UK. 
  • In conclusion: if you are newly applying for an Innovator visa, you should ignore the businesses listed under the “Legacy endorsing bodies,” category,  as they will be unable to provide you with an endorsement.  

How to get a UK Innovator visa endorsement

  • If you are wondering how to get endorsed for an Innovator visa, you’re not alone. Looking at the list of authorised endorsing bodies for the UK Innovator visa can be overwhelming; multiple different types of businesses, each with different requirements and restrictions—how is one to choose between them?
  • Begin by looking over the provided list and determining whether your specific application meets the requirements offered by a specific endorsing body. For example, “Deep Science Ventues” will only endorse business ideas from engineers/scientists who are interested in establishing ‘deep science’ start-ups (if you are trying to start up a tech company focused on coding, this endorsing body obviously would not be a good fit for your). Similarly, some companies have geographical restrictions on who they endorse. Entrepreneur First (EF), for example, exclusively endorses businesses in England (in the broader London area) so if you are committed in working from Scotland, EF would not be a good fit for you.
  • After you eliminate all of the options that would exclude you by default, you should be left with a list of viable options. To help you narrow it down further, contact us here. It is absolutely essential that you select the correct endorsing body from the authorized list, as making the wrong choice can imperil your entire application for your Innovator visa. Please contact us for personalized guidance on selecting your endorsing body. Once you make your selection, we can help you with contacting the endorsing body. They will provide an additional information on how to proceed with receiving your endorsement. Ultimately, you will have to apply to receive an endorsement (not all applications are accepted, and certain endorsing bodies are more selective than others).

List of authorised endorsing bodies for UK Innovator visa: 

Businesses endorsing bodies

Higher education endorsing bodies for UK Innovator visa

Legacy endorsing bodies for UK Innovator visa

  • Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • Ulster Bank Accelerator

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