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Endorsing Bodies Announced: Tier 1 Innovator and Start-up Visas

The Innovator visa and Start-up visa routes opened today, 29th March 2019.   As outlined here, the process requires an endorsement by an endorsing body.   Here we look at the current list of endorsing bodies, as well the role of endorsing bodies in applications for Innovator and Start-up visas.

Who are the Innovator / Start-up endorsing bodies?

The Innovator and Start-up endorsing bodies are currently:

  • The Bakery
  • Seed Camp
  • Invest Northern Ireland
  • Zinc
  • Deep Science Ventures
  • Wayra
  • Ignite
  • Bethnal Green Ventures
  • Codebase
  • Capital Enterprise
  • Cylon
  • Tech X
  • Seed Haus’
  • Med City
  • Scottish Edge
  • Royal Society Edinburgh
  • Tech Nation, which is already an endorsing body for Exceptional Talent applications, has announced it will be endorsing applicants in the Innovator and Start-up cateogories from September 2019.
  • NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator
  • Set Squared Bristol
  • Set Squared Exeter
  • Set Squared Southampton
  • Set Squared Surrey

Start up applicants can also be endorsed by HEI endorsing bodies and the Home Office has published the names of these universities.

We can expect this list of endorsing bodies to change over time as new endorsing bodies are approved or removed from the list.

The role of the Innovator / Start-up endorsing bodies

Endorsing bodies will:

  • Issue endorsements based on the criteria in Home Office guidance. They will have their own measures of what makes a good business idea, and the freedom to apply these criteria. Endorsement will be in the form of an endorsing letter, which the applicant will use to support their visa application.
  • Stay in contact with the endorsed business founders at checkpoints after 6, 12 and (in the Innovator category) 24 months, and inform the Home Office if they are not satisfied with their progress.
  • Let the Home Office know if they have any reason to believe an endorsed migrant is working in breach of their visa conditions, although they are not required to actively police this.
  • In the Innovator category, issue further endorsements for extension and settlement applications. In most cases, the Home Office expects innovators will be endorsed at these stages by the same body that endorsed their original application, but they may also be endorsed by a different body – for example, if the original endorsing body is no longer taking part in the category.

Guidance emphasises that the endorsing bodies will not make immigration decisions, will not police the immigration system, and will not be subject to the same compliance requirements as those with Tier 2 sponsor licences, etc.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance preparing an application for endorsement by an approved endorsing body, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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