Innovator Founder Visa
The Innovator Founder Visa is a fresh route for experienced entrepreneurs aspiring to establish and run innovative businesses in the United Kingdom. It was introduced by the government as a replacement for the Innovator Visa on 13th April 2023.
To make an initial application under this category, you must have a new, innovative, viable, and scalable business idea endorsed by one of government-authorized endorsing bodies. The visa type has further scrapped the investment requirement of £50,000 funds to invest in your UK business under the Innovator Visa, which gives young entrepreneurs a great and fair opportunity to start up and develop their business idea in the UK. Additionally, you need to satisfy financial maintenance and English language requirements. Please note that the English language requirement is at the B2 level of CEFR (the Common European Framework of Reference for Language), equivalent to an IELTS total score of 5.5.
The Innovator Founder Visa is initially granted for a period of 3 years and can be extended for a further 3 years if the eligibility requirements are met and the proposed business in the UK is still operational or if a new business is intended to be set up. Please note that you need to have your business or business idea assessed by one of the endorsing bodies when you extend your visa. Please feel free to contact us if you need further information about settlement requirements for this route.
- Designed for experienced businesspeople aiming to establish a business in the UK
- Requires a new, innovative, viable and scalable business idea supported by an endorsing body
- Enforces maintenance and English language requirements
- Allows applications from entrepreneurial teams
- Requires applicants to be at least 18 years old
- Can bring family
- Initial grant period of 3 years, with a potential 3 years extension
- Settlement is attainable after initial 3 years granted under this route
What are the endorsement criteria?
Eligibility criteria of the Innovator Founder Visa require that the business idea seeking endorsement must meet the following conditions:
- New: the applicants cannot join a business that is already trading
- Innovation: the business plan must be genuine and original, offering something distinct from anything else on the market
- Viable: the business should have potential for growth
- Scalability: applicants must provide detailed evidence of structured planning including job creation and expansion into national and international markets.
A point-based system has been introduced to assess new or existing businesses for Innovator Founder visa applicants. To qualify, applicants must accumulate 70 points, with 50 points allocated either under the new business criteria or under the same business criteria, but not both.
New business criteria
- 30 points – business plan
- 20 points – business venture is innovative, viable and scalable
Same business criteria
- 10 points – applicant’s previous permission was in the Innovator Founder, Innovator, Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and they are pursuing a business assessed by a Home Office approved endorsing body either for the previous endorsement or at a contact point.
- 20 points – business is active, trading, sustainable, and demonstrates significant achievements against the business plan
- 20 points – applicant is actively involved in the day-to-day management and development of the business
Please note that English language requirement at level B2 and financial requirement are both worth 10 points each.
What are the endorsing bodies?
As of now, two main groups of endorsing bodies exist for the Innovator Founder Visa:
- Business endorsing bodies: these endorsing bodies have the authority to issue endorsements for the Innovator Founder Visa. The list of business endorsing bodies has been trimmed down to 4 organizations:
- Envestors Limited
- UK Endorsing Services
- Innovator International
- The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP) – which is a government programme run by the Department for Business and Trade for specifically designed for internationally mobile, tech-based entrepreneurs.
- Legacy Innovator Endorsing Bodies: While these endorsing bodies no longer accept new Start-up/Innovator applications, they continue to be authorized to maintain and monitor their existing endorsed migrants who were endorsed under the previous Innovator Visa route.
Please note that the list of endorsing bodies and their status might change over time, so it’s essential to check the official government website for the most up-to-date information regarding endorsing bodies for the Innovator Founder Visa route. If you require further information about endorsing bodies for this route, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
To give your case the best chance of success, get in touch
To give your visa the best chance of success, and to reduce your stress, please contact our immigration experts.
If you wish to speak directly with one of our immigration specialists to get advice about business and personal immigration, or education in the UK and other visa issues, then please contact our Glasgow Head Office on Phone T:+44 (0)141 212 3355 or request a call back by completing the Online Form. You can also email us at email@example.com. More information can be found from Contact Us.
* Disclaimer: The above information is for general reference only. Specialist legal advice should be sought.
Latest update: August 2023