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Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator visa has since been replaced by the Innovator Founder visa from 2023, which has different eligibility and benefits. Contact our team to find out more today.

International entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in a business in the UK can apply for an Innovator Founder Visa.

Call us on 0333 305 9375 for immediate help & assistance with the Innovator Founder Visa. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS for Your Business Visa

    Our team of immigration lawyers are experts in providing support to those applying for a business visa. Our goal is to maximise your chances of a successful outcome and ease your business travel/immigration.

    IAS offers a comprehensive range of services, including Business Visa advice, document checking, business visa application, and concierge support.

    Our dedicated immigration lawyers provide our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach to maximise your chances of success. Enjoy the following benefits by opting for IAS:

    A personal immigration lawyer to provide answers to any concerns.

    Guidance through the business set-up to ensure it qualifies for the business visa.

    Reduce the risk of rejection through a high-quality application that we complete.

    Confidence that your case is being handled by an experienced team of lawyers.

    Regardless of what your business immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    Innovator Founder Visa Application

    The UK Innovator Visa was created in April 2019, replacing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Then, in 2023 the Innovator visa was replaced by the Innovator Founder visa. The Innovator Founder Visa route is designed for experienced businesspeople who seek to start a business in the UK. The route eliminates the £50,000 minimum investment, but you’ll still need funds to launch and live in the UK and an endorsment. Innovator Founders can now take on extra work or studies (at least A-level level) that won’t hinder their business.

    The Innovator Founder Visa lasts for three years and can be extended for a further three years. In some cases, Innovator Founder Visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain status after just three years of lawful residency in the UK.

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Eligibility

    Anyone who wishes to start a business in the UK under an Innovator Founder Visa will need to meet certain requirements.

    To be eligible for the Innovator Founder Visa, you must:

    • Be from outside the EEA and Switzerland
    • Be at least 18-years-old
    • Have a business idea which has been endorsed by an approved body. (The endorsement must not have been withdrawn prior to the Home Office’s consideration of the application)
    • Meet the English language requirement
    • Meet certain personal financial requirements

    Multiple applicants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company.

    What is the Difference Between an Innovator Founder Visa and a Start Up Visa?

    The Start Up Visa is another type of visa for entrepreneurs. However, this visa is for less experienced entrepreneurs who are classed as high potential.

    It must be noted that the Start-Up visa is not accepting any new applications going forward.

    Start Up VisaInnovator Founder Visa
    Applicants do not need funds to invest in their businessApplicants no longer need at least £50,000 to invest in their business
    Must not have previously set up a business in the UKEligible if set up business in the UK in the past
    Successful applicants can stay in the UK for two yearsSuccessful applicants can stay in the UK for three years
    Can bring family membersCan bring family members
    Can take on work outside of their business to support themselvesCan now undertake work or study outside of business ventures
    Visa cannot be extendedVisa can be extended

    What are the Innovator Founder Visa Requirements?

    As alluded to above, there are a number of requirements which an Innovator Founder Visa applicant will need to fulfil in order for their application to be accepted.

    Business Proposal

    Your business proposal will need to meet the following requirements:

    • Innovation. The applicant must be able to demonstrate that they have a genuine and original business plan which meets a new or existing market need, and will provide benefit to the British economy and workforce. (An applicant cannot join or invest in a business which is already trading)
    • Viability. The applicant needs to prove they have the necessary skills, knowledge and market awareness to successfully run the business
    • Scalability. The applicant will need to show that there is potential for job creation and growth

    Innovator Founder Visa Endorsing Bodies

    One of the key Innovator Founder Visa requirements is to have your business idea approved by an endorsing body. Before you start your Innovator Founder Visa application, you must have an endorsement letter from an approved endorsement body.

    Endorsement bodies review the applicant’s business proposal and determine whether it meets the three key business proposal requirements, as mentioned above.

    If the endorsement body approves the business proposal, an endorsement letter will be written and sent to the Home Office, with detailed information about the applicant and their business proposal.

    Endorsing bodies must be able to demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs (unless a new organisation is set up by another body which has its own proven track record).

    The endorsing body must explain in the letter whether they are providing the investment funds, or whether the applicant has the investment funds available to them and is ready to invest in the business (or has already done so).

    A full list of business endorsing bodies can be found here. For more information on the business proposal endorsement, call us now on 0333 305 9375.

    What are the Financial Requirements?

    As well as the requirements for investment funds, applicants must also have at least £1,191 if applying from outside the UK and £1,486 if applying to extend or switch from within the UK for 90 consecutive days before they apply for the Innovator Founder Visa.

    You cannot prove this requirement through your investment funds, or through money earned through illegal employment in the UK.

    Applicants must pay the annual healthcare surcharge fee of £1,035, as well as any endorsement fees (£1,000 +VAT) and review meeting fees (£500 per meeting) with an endorsing body.

    Additional costs may be for the English language test, TB testing if required, and biometric enrolment fees.

    What is the English Language Requirement?

    Any Innovator Founder Visa applicant will need to prove they meet a B2 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). Bear in mind that citizens of most native English-speaking countries will be exempt from this requirement.

    You will not need to fulfil any English language requirements if you:

    • Hold a degree or higher qualification taught in English which is recognised by the UK NARIC
    • Already hold a CEFR B2 level certificate in reading, writing, speaking and listening

    Also, citizens of the following countries will not need to fulfil this requirement:

    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • the Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Canada
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • St Kitts and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • USA

    All other Innovator Founder Visa applicants will need to pass a B2 English language test in reading, writing, speaking and listening from an approved test provider to be eligible for the Innovator Founder Visa.

    For advice and guidance on the Innovator Founder Visa application process, contact us now.

    Can I Switch to the Innovator Founder Visa from Another UK Visa?

    Yes, it is possible to switch to the Innovator Founder Visa from another UK visa.

    You will need to receive endorsement from an approved body to be eligible to switch to the Innovator Founder Visa, just as you would with a standard Innovator Founder Visa application.

    If you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK, you could switch from one of the following visas:

    Additionally, if you plan to switch to this visa from a Student visa, one of the following must apply to you:

    • The start date of your job is after the completion date of your course
    • You’ve been studying for a PhD for at least 24 months

    As long as you applied for the Innovator Founder Visa before your current visa expired, you will be able to stay in the UK until a decision has been reached.

    Can my Family Join Me in the UK Under an Innovator Founder Visa?

    Certain family members can join you when you travel to the UK on an Innovator Founder Visa. Your family members will be classed as dependants of you.

    The following people will be classed as dependants:

    • A partner
    • A child under 18
    • A child over 18 if currently in UK as a dependant

    Your dependants will need to pay the biometric enrolment fees as well as the yearly healthcare surcharge.

    It is also possible for a person living in the UK to switch their visa to stay with you as a dependant. In these circumstances, the dependant must apply as a dependant partner or a dependant child.

    Which Documents do I need to Include in an Innovator Founder Visa Application?

    The specific documents which need to be included in the Innovator Founder Visa application depends on your particular circumstances.

    Still, the following documents will always need to be included in your portfolio of evidence:

    • Current passport or other valid travel identification
    • Proof of B2 English language test pass (if applicable)
    • Bank statements showing that you have at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
    • Evidence of your investment funds
    • Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where the test has to be taken

    Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator.

    It is imperative that you provide all necessary documents in your application, and that they adhere to the strict Home Office standards. Failure to do so will result in an automatic rejection.

    At the Immigration Advice Service, one of our highly experienced immigration lawyers can help you compile all your relevant documents and ensure that your portfolio of evidence meets the required standards. Call us now on 0333 305 9375 for more information.

    Innovator Founder Visa UK Application Process

    Once you have gathered all relevant documents together and have an endorsement from an approved body, you can complete the Innovator Founder Visa application form.

    The earliest you can apply for the Innovator Founder Visa is 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK.

    How Long Does it Take to Process an Innovator Founder Visa?

    If you are applying for the Innovator Founder Visa from outside of the UK, you can expect to receive a decision from the Home Office within three weeks. Applications made from inside the UK can take up to eight weeks. Also, dependant applications will be processed within eight weeks.

    The application could take longer to process if the Home Office has any concerns about your application. For instance, you could be asked to have certain supporting documents verified.

    Do I Need to Provide Biometric Information?

    Yes, with an Innovator Founder Visa application, you will need to provide your fingerprints and a photo.

    After you have made your application, you will be prompted to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services point to provide the photo and your fingerprints.

    Our experienced immigration lawyers can provide you with all the Innovator Founder Visa information you need.

    How Much is the Innovator Founder Visa Application?

    The cost of a UK Innovator Founder Visa depends on where you apply from and your specific situation.

    Who?Standard ApplicationExtend or Switch
    You£1,191£1,486
    Your partner and children£1,191 per person£1,486 per person

    How Long Can I Stay in the UK Under an Innovator Founder Visa?

    If your application is approved, you can stay in the UK for three years.

    At the end of the three years you will be able to extend your visa if you still meet the eligibility requirements and are still running a business in the UK, or want to start a new one.

    If your business has already been endorsed in your original Innovator Founder Visa application, you do not need to have £50,000 in investment funds to renew your Innovator Founder Visa.

    Also, you will need to include any dependants who are on your current Innovator visa in the Innovator Founder Visa extension application.

    We have offices based in LondonManchester, and Birmingham, as well as in many other locations throughout the UK. We look forward to helping you with your immigration case.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Securing Endorsement for your Innovator Founder Visa
    The first step to obtaining an Innovator Founder visa is securing endorsement for your business from an authorised endorsing body. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the process:

    Finding the Right Endorsing Body:

    The UK government maintains a list of approved endorsing bodies on their website. These include established organizations like Envestors Limited, UK Endorsing Services, Innovator International, and the Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP). It’s important to note that some bodies might not be accepting new applications at this stage but could be authorised to maintain existing endorsements for businesses already under their wing.

    Types of Endorsement:

    There are three main types of endorsements available:

    New Business Endorsement: This applies to innovative business ideas that are yet to launch.
    Endorsement for the Same Business: This is relevant for existing endorsed businesses seeking to extend their visa under the Innovator Founder route.
    Settlement Application Endorsements: This endorsement is used for transitioning from an Innovator Founder visa to permanent residency in the UK.

    Qualifying Your Business Idea:

    To receive endorsement, your business idea must demonstrate several key qualities. It should be a fresh concept, not simply joining an existing UK business. More importantly, it needs to be innovative, offering a unique solution or approach for the UK market. Viability and scalability are crucial as well. Your business plan must show clear potential for growth and profitability, along with a well-defined plan for creating jobs and expanding nationally or internationally.

    Additional Requirements for Applicants:

    Beyond the business plan, you’ll need to demonstrate your own capabilities and commitment. This includes actively participating in the daily management of the business, showcasing your business acumen and relevant skills to run the venture successfully. You’ll also need to prove you created or significantly contributed to the business plan and ensure all funding originates from legitimate sources.

    After Endorsement:

    Once your business receives endorsement, you can move forward with your Innovator Founder visa application. The application will require you to submit your official endorsement letter and proof of sufficient funds to support both your business establishment and your personal living expenses in the UK.

    You can apply for an Innovator Founder Visa if you are looking to expand or start a business in the UK. To meet the Innovator Founder Visa requirements, you will need to have a business idea which is innovative, scalable and viable. You will also need to invest, the amount depends on your business.

    The business you propose must have a prospective benefit to the British economy and/or workforce.

    You can make an application for an Innovator Founder Visa online or by post, through the Gov site or privately though your endorsing body (for example, Tech Nation).

    The Innovator Founder Visa application fees are as follows:

    • £1,191 for the application
    • £1,035 immigration surcharge

    Applications for the Innovator Founder Visa are now open and  replaced the previous Innovator visa in 2023.

    Yes, you can switch from a Graduate Entrepreneur to an Innovator Founder Visa, in the same way that you would to an Entrepreneur Visa.

    The process for switching from a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa to an Innovator Founder Visa is straightforward, but you will need to meet certain eligibility requirements. For example, you will need to still be involved in the running of a ‘successful’ business which is still thriving and benefitting the British economy.

    Yes, you can switch from a Start-Up Visa to an Innovator Founder Visa as long as your business is still thriving and contributing to the British economy. You will need to prove to the Home Office, if this is the case, that your business is still viable and that it is supporting you (in other words, you are not claiming public funds while in the UK).

    Our lawyers are highly qualified and experienced in all forms of corporate visa applications. This means that they will support you every step of the way in your application for a UK Innovator Founder Visa and ensure your application meets the standards which are demanded by the Home Office.

    Our services include:

    • ensuring your documents are satisfactory before making your application;
    • creating a detailed bundle to present your application to the Home Office;
    • providing you with a Letter of Representation to support your application;
    • communicating with the Home Office until the end of the process; and
    • making sure that your application form is completed to the highest standard.

    Our lawyers can also work with you if you need helping writing a business plan. 

    Contact us today using our online contact form or call us on +44 (0)333 414 9244 to speak with one of our specialist immigration lawyers, and take your first steps towards completing your Innovator Founder Visa application.

    The Innovator Founder Visa can act as your first step towards British citizenship. Any time spent in the UK under an Innovator Founder Visa counts towards minimum residency requirements for citizenship.

    In some cases, Innovator Founder Visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status when their Innovator Founder Visa expires. ILR status means you can live in the UK without any restrictions.

    However, in most situations, you need to spend at least five years as a lawful resident in the UK before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

    After a year of living in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be able to apply for UK citizenship, and enjoy the full benefits of citizenship.

    If your application is refused, you will be notified of the reasons for the rejection. If you feel your application was rejected without good reason, you can submit an appeal against the Home Office’s decision.

    The Immigration Advice Service can support you through the entire appeal process should you wish to go down this route. Call us now on +44 (0)333 414 9244 for more information.

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