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UK Innovator Founder Visa for Nigerians

The UK Innovator Founder visa (previously the Innovator visa) is available to foreign entrepreneurs and business owners who wish to set up an innovative business in the United Kingdom.

Starting a business abroad is a complicated process, and we know that you want to be sure that your business abides by all UK laws. We are here to help. Contact IAS today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882.

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    What is the UK Innovator Founder Visa?

    The Innovator Founder visa (formerly known as an Innovator visa) is available for Nigerians and other foreign nationals who wish to start an innovative business in the UK.

    This Innovator Founder visa is the best option for those who wanted to apply for the Start-up visa, which is now closed to new applications. You may also switch to the Innovator Founder visa from the Start-up visa so long as you still meet all the relevant eligibility criteria.

    The Innovator Founder visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to three years so long as your business is running and viable throughout that period. After three years, you and any dependants on your visa may be eligible for permanent residency in the UK.

    In general, if you have an Innovator Founder visa you are allowed to:

    • Set up businesses and be employed by your businesses
    • Work another job so long as it is on the eligible Skilled Worker occupation list or is a job that requires a minimum level 3 qualification
    • Bring your partner and/or children with you as dependants
    • Have another job as well as working for your business
    • Travel in and out of the UK
    • Settle in the UK permanently after three years if your business is stable

    In general, you are not allowed to:

    • Apply for public funds or a State Pension
    • Work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach.

    How to Apply for Endorsement


    In order to apply for the Innovator Founder visa, the applicant must first submit your business for endorsement to an authorised business endorsing body. Currently, there are four organisations listed:

    • Envestors Limited
    • UK Endorsing Services
    • Innovator International
    • The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP)

    Other endorsing bodies exist, however they are not eligible to endorse new businesses at this stage. However, if you already have a business running under the endorsement of a different body, then they are authorised to continue maintaining and monitoring your business.

    There are three types of business endorsement available:

    • A new business endorsement for new businesses
    • Endorsement for the same business
    • Settlement application endorsements

    In order to be eligible for consideration for a UK Innovator Founder visa, your business will need to be considered:

    • A new and different idea, and not joining a business in the UK that has already been established
    • Innovative, with a unique concept to add to the UK market
    • Viable, with clear potential for growth
    • Scalable, with a clear plan for creating new jobs in the UK and scaling to service national and international markets.

    You will also be required to prove:

    • That you have or will have a daily role in your business
    • That you are fit and capable of running a business
    • Have either created or heavily contributed to the business plan
    • That the funding for your business has not come from illicit means

    Once you have received confirmation of endorsement, you will be able to apply for the Innovator Founder visa. In order to apply, you must submit the following:

    • Your letter of endorsement
    • Proof of funding for your business.

    Investment and Proof of Finances

    You will need to prove to the endorsing body of your business that you have enough funding for your business, and will need to provide evidence for the source of your funding. The minimum amount of investment required varies according to what type of business you have.

    Some businesses will be considered without funding if:

    • The business is already well-established in the UK and was endorsed on a previous visa
    • You have changed or have a new business, and your business idea has an approved endorsing body.

    Eligibility Criteria for the Business Owner


    Not only will your business have to meet certain eligibility criteria in order to be assessed by an endorsing body, but you as the business owner will also be required to meet certain requirements. You must:

    • Be above 18 years old
    • Have a clear criminal record
    • Meet the English language requirements
    • Have a minimum amount of savings available, usually £1270 per applicant
    • Be applying for the visa within 3 months of receiving an endorsement letter

    You also need to prove that you have a minimum of £1270 in your bank account for 28 days in a row.

    This money cannot come from your investment funds or from work you have completed illegally in the UK.

    English Requirements

    Applicants of the Innovator visa must prove that they can read, write, speak and understand English at least at a level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

    You need to providing evidence of the following:

    • A pass in the Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
    • A GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, gained during time you spent in a UK school
    • A degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English – you must apply for a certificate from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) if you studied in Nigeria or another foreign country.

    Nigerians who wish to start a business in the UK may be eligible for the innovator founder visa. We can help you obtain yours. Contact Us

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      Eligibility for Partners and Children

      The Innovator Founder visa allows applicants to sponsor their partner and/or children, known as ‘dependants’ to join them in the UK. Each applicant must apply separately before they travel to the UK.

      Your dependents must submit your application number, known as the Global Web Form (GWF) or Unique Application Number (UAN), found in letters and emails of correspondence regarding your application.

      They will also need to obtain a biometric residence permit, and so must provide fingerprints and have their photo taken at a visa application centre. This can be done in the UK or in Abuja and Lagos if you are applying from Nigeria.

      You will also need to prove that you have sufficient savings as a family to support each dependant. Usually, you must have at least the following:

      • £285 for your partner
      • £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child

      We understand how complicated applying for visas as a family can be. We are here to help. Contact IAS today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882.

      How to Apply

      Applicants should apply online unless they have mitigating circumstances, which mean they must apply in person. They can do this by visiting their local immigration office, or if you are in Nigeria, you can apply with our team by visiting our offices in Lagos. Contact us online today for help with your application, or call our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or our Lagos office on +23413438882.

      To get an Innovator Founder visa, you must prove your identity.

      Depending on whether your passport is recent or whether you are using a non-Nigerian passport to apply, you must prove your identity by either:

      • Providing fingerprints and having your passport photo taken at a visa application centre for your biometric residence permit, or
      • Downloading the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app and scanning your identity document. You will be required to create a UK Visas and Immigration account, if you don’t have one already.

      What Documents Do I Need for an Innovator Founder Visa?

      • A valid passport or travel document, clearly stating your identity and nationality
      • Proof of English
      • Biometric information for a Biometric Residence Permit
      • A bank statement or similar proving you can financially support yourself in the UK with personal savings – you must have a minimum of £1270 in your account for at least 28 days within 31 days of submitting your application
      • If you are travelling from Nigeria or another listed country, you will be required to take a tuberculosis test and submit the results
      • A blank page available in your passport to stick your work visa into
      • Translated documents into English and Welsh, if applicable

      For your business, you will be required to submit:

      • Your detailed business plan
      • Your letter of endorsement
      • Proof of investment and maintenance funds.

      How Much Does it Cost?

      The application fees per applicant are detailed below. Please note this does not include other costs such as costs associated with retrieving or translating documents, proof of funds for you and your family (if applicable), or any legal representation you might need during the process.

      You must also pay the annual healthcare surcharge, which usually costs £624 per person.

      Applicant Fee GBP (Outside UK) Fee GBP (Inside UK/Switch)
      Yourself £1036 per applicant £1292 per applicant
      Your partner/children £1036 per applicant £1292 per applicant

      With the innovator founder visa, we can assist Nigerians start a new life and a thriving business in the UK. Contact Us

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        How Long Will it Take?


        Once you have proven your identity and submitted your application, you should expect a decision within a 3-8 week period. If your application is going to take longer to process, you will be contacted. Reasons this may be the case are as follows:

        • If another person in your application requires an appointment
        • If any documents require verification
        • If you need to attend an interview
        • If you have a more complex case, such as a previous criminal conviction.

        Fast Track Application

        You may be eligible to pay for a priority application service, which allows you to receive a decision within a week. If you are eligible, you will be notified of this once you have submitted your application.

        Service Cost
        Priority Service – receive a decision within 5 working days £573 per applicant if your visa has the option to settle in the UK permanently
        Super Priority Service – receive a decision by the end of the next working day £956 per applicant

        Engage us for assistance in the application of your innovator founder visa. Contact Us

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          How Can IAS Help?

          Establishing a business in the UK is very exciting, and the UK provides excellent opportunities for your business to succeed and thrive.

          We know this is a big step for you, and we understand that there is an overwhelming amount of things to take care of in this process. It can be very difficult to go through this process alone.

          That’s why IAS exists. We can provide you with a team of expert immigration lawyers that guides you through the entire process of applying for the Innovator Founder visa and settling in the UK. We offer personalised support to help you and any family members you have make this big step.

          Contact us today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882.

          We are here to help.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    The amount required for investment depends on the type of business that you will be setting up. Therefore the amount expected will vary for each applicant. Further information will be available during the process for applying for endorsement.

                    Yes, if you have an established UK business, you can switch to this visa. You must fit the eligibility criteria outlined on this page and also prove that your business:

                    • Has been assessed and approved by your endorsing body
                    • Is an active, trading and sustainable business
                    • Is your main job.

                    Yes. You can extend your visa every three years if you are still eligible and your business is established and running.

                    You may be eligible for permanent settlement once you’ve been in the UK for 3 years.

                    Yes, the Innovator Founder visa is eligible for indefinite leave to remain. To apply for permanent residency, you will have to meet certain criteria such as:

                    • Have lived in the UK on the Innovator or Innovator Founder visa for 3 years
                    • Have a new endorsement proving you plan to grow your business
                    • Pass the Life in the UK test
                    • Not have spent any more than 180 days each year outside the UK.