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Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator Founder Visa is suitable for experienced business individuals and start-up entrepreneurs who aim to establish a business in the United Kingdom. Unlike other visa options, no specific investment amount is required to be eligible for this visa category. However, applicants must have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea and a well-prepared business plan endorsed by a credible endorsing body. The Innovator Founder Visa route will launch on 13 April 2023.

To be eligible for an Innovator Founder Visa, applicants must either generate or significantly contribute to developing their business idea. Additionally, they must have a clear intention of being actively involved in their business's day-to-day management and growth. Innovator Founder Visas are valid for three years and can ultimately lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK. Successful Innovator Founder Visa applicants can bring their partner and children under 18 to the UK.

Requirements for an Innovator Founder Visa

To apply for an Innovator Founder Visa, you must meet several requirements set by UK Visas and Immigration. These include:

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Obtaining an endorsement letter from an approved UK endorsing body confirming that you are eligible to receive endorsement under the Innovator Founder route, that the endorsing body has no concerns over the source of any funds invested into your business, and that you have a viable, scalable, and innovative business venture
  • Having at least two contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals
  • Having a business plan that you generated or significantly contributed to and having a day-to-day role in carrying out that plan
  • Having an endorsement letter issued no more than three months before your Innovator Visa application date
  • Being the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team
  • Having sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependants
  • Being competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2
  • Providing a TB test certificate if required
  • Ensuring your application does not fall for refusal on general grounds for refusal

Please note that the exact requirements may vary depending on your specific circumstances. For expert advice on your Innovator Founder Visa application, contact our team by calling +44 (0) 75 3595 9450 or emailing us at info@LSLegaLUK.com.

Who Is the Innovator Founder Visa Suitable For?

The Innovator Founder Visa is suitable for individuals, whether they are start-up entrepreneurs or experienced businesspersons, who want to establish an innovative, viable, and scalable business in the UK. It is worth noting that the business idea can not yet be fully operational, although existing businesses may still apply as long as they have not yet started trading.

As an Innovator Founder, you may work alone or as part of a founding team, provided that you are an essential member of the team. The business idea can pertain to any industry if it satisfies the innovative, viable, and scalable criteria and is supported by a business plan.
If you want to join an already established business, you may find the Skilled Worker visa more fitting for your needs. Alternatively, if you are a senior manager or specialist employee of an overseas company looking to establish a commercial presence in the UK, consider the UK Expansion Worker visa.

Investment Funds Requirement for an Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator Founder Visa does not have a specific amount of funds required for investment in a proposed business. However, applicants must present a viable and scalable business idea demonstrating sufficient access to investment funds necessary to establish and develop the business. Any applicant can meet the flexible investment funds requirement with a genuine and innovative business proposal with the appropriate level of funds necessary to support it based on the specific financial needs of the proposed business.

Endorsement Criteria for a UK Innovator Founder Visa

Criteria for Endorsement of New Business Proposals

To obtain an Innovator Founder endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body and satisfy the Home Office endorsement criteria, you must meet the following requirements:

General Requirements for Innovator Founder Visa The endorsing body must confirm that:

  • You are a suitable candidate for endorsement under the Innovator Founder route;
  • The endorsing body has no concerns regarding the source of investment funds for your business;
  • There is no reason to suspect that you or your business may be involved in illicit or unexplained wealth.

Business Plan Requirement for Innovator Founder Visa

To fulfil the Innovator Founder business plan requirement, you must have a business plan to which you have either developed or made a significant contribution.

You must also show that you will have a hands-on role in implementing the business plan and commit to having at least two Contact point meetings with your endorsing body at regular intervals during your authorized stay. Furthermore, you must be either the sole founder or a key founding team member.

Innovative, Viable, and Scalable Business Requirement for Innovator Founder Visa

To meet the innovative, viable, and scalable business requirement for an Innovator Founder Visa, your business idea must satisfy the following conditions:

Innovation: Your business plan should offer a unique, original solution that caters to existing or new market demand and/or provides a competitive edge;
Viability: Your business plan should be practical and achievable based on your available resources, and you must have the necessary skills, expertise, experience, and market insight to run your business successfully;
Scalability: Your business plan must show evidence of structured planning and potential for job creation and expansion into national and international markets.

Same Business Endorsement Criteria

To apply for a further endorsement as an Innovator Founder for a business previously assessed by a Home Office endorsed body during permission on the Innovator, Innovator Founder, Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) routes, you must meet specific requirements. This option may be suitable if you wish to switch to the Innovator Founder route or extend your stay as an Innovator Founder.

To receive an Innovator Founder endorsement letter, you must satisfy a Home Office-approved endorsing body that your business:

  • Is registered with Companies House, and you are listed as a director or member of the company;
  • Is active, trading, and sustainable;
  • Has made significant progress against your business plan;
  • You actively engaged in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

If you held permission as an Innovator or Innovator Founder previously, you must also demonstrate that you attended at least two Contact Point meetings with your endorsing body or similar checkpoints with a legacy endorsing body at regular intervals during your permission period. You must also confirm that you will have at least two Contact Point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals during your permission period.

List of Approved Innovator Founder Visa Endorsing Bodies

On 13 April 2023, the Innovator Founder route will become available. Once the route opens, the Home Office will publish a list of approved organizations authorized to issue endorsement letters for applications under the Innovator Founder route. Previous endorsing bodies, referred to as "Legacy Endorsing Bodies," may continue supporting Innovators endorsed under the former Innovator Rules until they achieve Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If you were endorsed by a "Legacy Endorsing Body" before 13 April 2023, you can use your endorsement letter and do not need to apply to one of the currently approved endorsing bodies as long as the letter is dated before 13 April 2023. LS Legal Solicitors is a reliable introducer to Innovator Founder endorsing bodies, ensuring that eligible clients have direct contact with investment panel members and benefit from transparent and timely decision-making.

UK Innovator Founder Visa English Language Requirement

All Innovator Founder Visa applicants are required to demonstrate their English language proficiency in all four components (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) at a minimum of level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages unless an exemption applies.

Innovator Founder Visa Financial Requirement

To meet the financial requirement for entry clearance as an Innovator Founder, the applicant must provide evidence of having held at least £1,270 in personal savings for a continuous 28-day period immediately prior to the date of application, unless an exemption applies.

Applying for an Innovator Founder Visa as Part of a Team

There is no requirement to be the only founder of your business, and you may apply as a member of a founding team. However, if you are applying as part of a team, you must be a significant member of the team, and each team member must receive an individual endorsement from a Home Office-approved endorsing body.

Switching Into the Innovator Founder Visa Category

Innovator Founder visa applications can be submitted from abroad or from within the UK, as long as the applicant did not previously have, or was not last granted, permission under categories such as Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, or outside the Immigration Rules.

Innovator Founder Visa Application Fee

The present fee for an Innovator Founder Visa application imposed by the Home Office is £1,036 for those applying from outside the UK and £1,292 for those who wish to switch into this category while being present in the UK unless an exemption applies.

Innovator Founder Visa Validity Period

The Innovator Founder Visa is initially valid for three years and can be extended for additional three-year periods, subject to meeting the re-endorsement requirements. There is no maximum time limit for staying in the Innovator Founder category. After spending three years in the Innovator Founder Visa category, you may apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) as an Innovator Founder.

Innovator Founder Visa Conditions of Stay

You must comply with specific conditions to maintain your stay as an Innovator Founder Visa holder. One of these conditions is that you must work for the business or businesses you have established. Taking on secondary employment outside your business is acceptable, but it must be a skilled job at or above RQF Level 3.

Innovator Founder Visa Contact Point Meetings

To maintain your status as an Innovator Founder Visa holder, you will be required to have at least two contact point meetings with your endorsing body at regular intervals throughout your permission period. These meetings serve as a checkpoint assessment to evaluate your progress against your business plan.

During these meetings, the endorsing body will review your business venture and assess whether you have made reasonable progress towards developing an innovative, scalable, and viable business idea. You must undergo a contact point meeting with your endorsing body to ensure your Innovator Founder Visa is not cancelled.

Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator Founder

To qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator Founder, you must meet the following requirements as assessed by UK Visas & Immigration:

  • You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body, which is satisfied that you have made significant progress in achieving the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement.
  • You must also be registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, and the business must be active, trading and appear sustainable for the following 12 months.
  • Additionally, you must have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

You must satisfy at least two of the following criteria:

  • A minimum of £50,000 has been invested into the business, which has been actively spent furthering the business.
  • The business has created at least five full-time jobs for settled workers, with an average salary of at least £25,000 per year.
  • The business has created at least ten full-time jobs for resident workers, with no average salary requirement.
  • Customers have at least doubled within the most recent three years. It is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.
  • The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
  • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
  • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
  • You must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12-month period during the three years before the date of application.
  • You must have sufficient knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.

How LS Legal Solicitors Can Help with Innovator Founder Visas

At LS Legal Solicitors, we are dedicated to providing expert immigration assistance to innovative entrepreneurs seeking to obtain Innovator Founder Visas. Our team of experienced immigration lawyers has helped many entrepreneurs with their immigration needs, and we are committed to guiding our clients through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

We understand that every entrepreneur's situation is unique, and we strive to provide a personalized service tailored to meet our clients' needs. Our team is approachable, proactive, and dedicated to understanding our clients' specific requirements to ensure we provide the best possible service.

Our team of immigration lawyers is well-versed in the requirements for obtaining Innovator Founder Visas, and we have experience assisting start-up entrepreneurs and established businesspersons. We can provide expert advice and guidance on the eligibility requirements, concept assessment, introduction to endorsing bodies, business plan approval, and full KYC and due diligence.
We pride ourselves on our professionalism and dedication to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to our clients, and we are committed to helping them achieve their immigration goals. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your Innovator Founder Visa application.

Want to launch your own start-up in the UK one day?

We recently hosted a discussion between 2 very successful immigrant entrepreneurs, one of which is our Managing partner at LS Legal Solicitors, Liliya Scott. The other was Ivan Zhiznevsky, Founder and CEO at 3S Money and Female Leadership Advocate, who started from one hot desk with Barclays Fintech Accelerator and grew to 80 employees and international offices in just three years. 3s.money is a bank challenger that enables corporates to accept and manage bank transfers in foreign markets.

They discuss a variety of topics such as what motivated them to start their business, what their company culture is like and much more. You can watch the full episode here. In this blog post, we share their thoughts, experiences and top pieces of advice.

  • What are the driving forces in you becoming such successful entrepreneurs?
  • What NOT to do when starting your entrepreneurial journey in the UK.
  • The importance of PIVOTING within the business to meet your clients' needs
  • To hire locally... to not hire locally

Most immigration applications have strict factual and evidential requirements that are not necessarily straightforward to comprehend or satisfy. LS Legal Solicitors are well versed and highly experienced in providing advice and assistance on immigration applications. We appreciate that many of the requirements may seem overly complex and onerous. However, we guarantee to make your experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.

For the quickest response, please WhatsApp or call us on +44 (0) 75 3595 9450. You can also contact us via email at info@LSLegaLUK.com or use the contact form to discuss your requirements further or arrange an appointment with one of our experts.