UK Innovator Founder Visa 2023: Guide for Entrepreneurs

The UK Innovator Founder Visa, introduced in April 2023, streamlines the process for foreign entrepreneurs eager to launch their Business Ideas in the UK. This visa category replaces the older Innovator and Startup routes and removes the £50,000 minimum investment requirement. With a more straightforward endorsement procedure and a route to permanent UK residency, the visa is well-suited for international entrepreneurs planning their Innovative Business Plan.

UK Innovator Founder Visa Route
Charting the Path to Success: Navigating the UK Innovator Founder Visa Route

1. Innovator Founder Visa Guidance

A Complete Guide to UK Innovator Founder Visa 2023

Introduced in April 2023, the UK Innovator Founder Visa supplants the older Innovator and Startup visas. It offers a streamlined pathway for international entrepreneurs to establish and manage innovative, viable, and scalable businesses in the UK. The visa is endorsement-based, significantly boosting approval rates after receiving an endorsement letter. Family members, including partners and dependents, are also eligible under this route, which leads to potential permanent residency in the UK.

New Visa Features

  • No minimum investment of £50,000 required
  • Reduced mandatory check-ins with innovator founder visa endorsing bodies
  • Secondary employment allowed under specific conditions
  • Time spent contributes to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  • Route to UK settlement for visa holders and dependents after 3 years

Validity Criteria

Applicants must meet these requirements for a valid application:

  • Submit an online application through the official portal
  • Pay the required application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge
  • Provide biometric data
  • Hold a valid passport or equivalent identity document
  • Receive an endorsement letter within the last 3 months
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Obtain consent from scholarship awarding bodies, if applicable
  • Follow rules for transitioning from other UK visas

Suitability Guidelines

Compliance with Part 9 of UK immigration rules is mandatory. These rules outline general reasons a visa could be refused, such as criminal history or fraudulent activity. Extensions also require adherence to immigration laws and no ongoing immigration bail.

Eligibility Criteria

For a successful application, applicants should:

  • Obtain entry clearance before arriving in the UK
  • Submit an innovative, viable, and scalable business plan
  • Score at least 70 points in eligibility checks
  • Secure an endorsement from a Home Office-approved body
  • Fulfill criteria for business growth and job creation
  • Prove English proficiency at CEFR B2 level
  • Show financial sustainability for self and dependents

Get Expert Guidance for All Types of UK Visa and Immigration Applications, Reapplications, Refusals, and Appeals.

    Enquiry Form

    What Happens Next?

    Our multilingual, qualified London-based immigration specialists will get back to you, usually within 2-3 working days. If you have not attached any documents, the UK-based law firm may ask for relevant case-specific documents such as refusal letters, deportation orders, application forms, etc. After reviewing the documents and information, the legal advisor may suggest a course of action and quote the fees for processing the application.

    Have a Wonderful Day!

    UK Innovator Founder Visa
    Key Features of the UK Innovator Founder Visa: Your Quick Guide to Eligibility and Benefits

    2. Business Ideas

    Tech and Non-Tech Innovator Founder Visa Business Ideas

    Here is a list of some UK innovator visa business ideas with initial capital investment for sole proprietorship or partnership business:

    1. Healthcare Innovations:
      Ideas such as remote patient monitoring, telepsychiatry, or specialized care services for the elderly or disabled populations.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £10,000 for a basic telehealth platform, £50,000 to incorporate AI and advanced diagnostics, £100,000 for a comprehensive solution.
    2. E-commerce Solutions:
      Novel business models for online retail, like subscription-based services, AI-driven personalized shopping experiences, or unique payment solutions.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £5,000 for a basic online store, £25,000 for AI-driven personalization, £75,000 for a fully-featured platform.
    3. Agritech:
      Businesses focusing on high-tech farming solutions, organic farming innovations, or farm-to-table supply chain improvements.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £8,000 for small-scale hydroponics, £40,000 for medium-scale organic farming, £120,000 for large-scale, automated farming.
    4. Smart City Solutions:
      Ideas aimed at urban improvement, such as intelligent transportation systems, waste management innovations, or IoT-based public safety solutions.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £20,000 for basic IoT solutions, £100,000 for an integrated city-wide system, £500,000 for cutting-edge urban technologies.
    5. Gig Economy Enhancements:
      Platforms that create new types of freelance work or optimize current gig economy jobs in a novel way.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £3,000 for a freelance job board, £20,000 for a specialized, niche platform, £50,000 for a full-service freelance marketplace.
    6. Tourism and Hospitality:
      Innovative services or technologies that improve traveler experiences, such as unique booking platforms, local experience apps, or sustainable tourism packages.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £10,000 for an experience-driven local app, £40,000 for an AI-based booking platform, £100,000 for a comprehensive tourism solution.
    7. Financial Technologies:
      Blockchain for secure contract management, or AI-driven risk assessment tools for insurance and loan processing.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £15,000 for basic blockchain contracts, £75,000 for machine learning-driven analytics, £200,000 for a comprehensive FinTech solution.
    8. Content Creation:
      Platforms that enable a new form or medium of content creation, like virtual reality art studios or interactive educational platforms.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £7,000 for basic content creation, £35,000 for interactive media, £80,000 for VR and AR integration.
    9. Mental Wellness Apps:
      Digital solutions to mental health challenges, such as meditation apps with AI-driven feedback or online platforms for cognitive behavioral therapy.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £6,000 for a meditation app, £30,000 for AI analytics, £60,000 for a full mental wellness suite.
    10. Elderly Care Tech:
      Smart home solutions aimed at aiding the elderly, such as fall detection systems, automated medication dispensers, or specialized communication platforms.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £5,000 for basic elderly care tech, £25,000 for home automation, £60,000 for networked solutions.
    11. Sports Technology:
      Solutions aimed at improving athlete performance, game-day experiences for fans, or sports analytics.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £12,000 for basic sports analytics, £50,000 for performance tracking, £150,000 for comprehensive athlete and fan experiences.
    12. Crisis Management Solutions:
      Technologies that can assist in emergency situations like natural disasters or public health crises.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £20,000 for basic emergency alerts, £80,000 for integrated public safety, £200,000 for predictive analytics and coordination.
    13. Retail Tech:
      Augmented reality fitting rooms, AI-powered inventory management, or customer service automation.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £8,000 for customer service bots, £35,000 for AR fitting rooms, £90,000 for a full customer experience design.
    14. Transportation and Logistics:
      Businesses that streamline logistics, improve public transport, or create sustainable mobility solutions.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £15,000 for route optimization, £60,000 for fleet management, £150,000 for smart logistics.
    15. Sustainable Agriculture:
      Organic farming methods, permaculture designs, or community-supported agriculture programs.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £5,000 for a small garden farm, £25,000 for community-supported agriculture, £70,000 for a large organic farm.
    16. Artisanal Food Production:
      Handcrafted cheeses, bakery items, or specialized ethnic foods.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £3,000 for a small-scale operation, £20,000 for a medium-sized production facility, £50,000 for large-scale operations.
    17. Eco-Tourism:
      Sustainable travel experiences that focus on local culture and natural heritage.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £8,000 for guided local tours, £35,000 for a small eco-lodge, £100,000 for a comprehensive eco-tourism resort.
    18. Educational Services:
      Tutoring centers, skills workshops, or educational consultancies.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £2,000 for online tutoring services, £15,000 for a local tutoring center, £40,000 for specialized training institutes.
    19. Health and Wellness Centers:
      Yoga studios, meditation retreats, or alternative medicine clinics.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £5,000 for a home-based wellness center, £20,000 for a local studio, £60,000 for a larger facility with diverse offerings.
    20. Specialty Retail:
      Boutiques focusing on sustainably-sourced products, antiques, or other specialized goods.
      Initial Investment Estimates for Innovative Business Ideas for UK Visa: £3,000 for an online store, £20,000 for a physical location, £50,000 for multiple outlets or a franchise model.

    Note: There are no requirements for Initial Investments under the Innovator Founder Routes; however, incorporating and running a business does require capital outlays.

    3. Business Plan

    Innovator Founder Visa Business Plan Guidance

    Key Components and Practical Insights with Financial Projections

    Navigating the Innovator Founder Visa application requires not just an innovative idea but also a well-articulated business plan. This guide aims to offer a granular breakdown of the crucial components, complemented by practical financial projections in GBP, to bolster your application.

    1. Executive Summary: Think of this as your investment teaser. Outline the business idea, its market potential, and how an initial investment of around £10,000 could drive an expected revenue of £100,000 in the first two years.
      • Example: If you’re entering the sustainable energy sector, indicate that a £10,000 investment in solar panels could result in energy savings of £40,000 over three years for your consumers.
    2. Market Analysis (Who Will Buy?): Dive into specifics, offering insights into market segmentation and consumer needs. Project that capturing just 5% of a local market could yield an annual turnover of £50,000.
      • Example: For a telehealth venture, cite the increasing elderly population as a demographic that could benefit from your services, contributing approximately £20,000 to annual revenue.
    3. Operational Plan (Day-to-Day Costs): Describe your day-to-day operations, including any partnerships and how you plan to manage a budget of £8,000 for the first quarter for logistics and operations.
      • Example: If you’re planning an import business, explain that £2,000 will be allocated for shipping and £1,500 for customs duties and quality control checks.
    4. Financial Projections (Money Matters): Your projections should be backed by sound financial modelling. Include charts that display a break-even point at the 14th month with an operational budget of £12,000 for the first year.
      • Example: If you need £5,000 for initial marketing efforts, project a customer acquisition cost of £50, with a lifetime value of £500, justifying the initial spend.

    By carefully articulating these financial components, you not only fortify your Innovator Founder Visa application but also offer a realistic and robust financial roadmap for your venture’s success in the UK market.

    4. Entry Clearance

    UK Innovator Founder Visa New Rules 2023

    All individuals planning to enter the UK under the Innovator Founder category must complete an application for entry clearance prior to their arrival. It is imperative that the application is approved and entry clearance as an Innovator Founder is obtained before setting foot in the UK.

    Medical Certificate Requirement

    Applicants subject to paragraph A39 and Appendix T of the immigration rules must furnish a valid medical certificate. This certificate should confirm that the individual has been screened for active pulmonary tuberculosis and has tested negative for the condition.

    5. Genuine Innovator Founder Requirement

    Authenticity Criteria for Innovator Founder Applicants

    To be eligible for the Innovator Founder Visa, the applicant must qualify as a genuine Innovator Founder. This means that the applicant’s intentions, business plan, and qualifications should align convincingly with the Innovator Founder category.

    Meeting the Genuine Innovator Founder requirement involves more than just submitting a compelling business plan. The Home Office also takes into account the applicant’s previous business experience, market research, and the scalability of the proposed venture. If you are a serial entrepreneur with a proven track record, this could strengthen your application, as it offers evidence that you have the necessary skills to execute your business plan successfully.

    Additionally, applicants may be subjected to an interview process, during which they must demonstrate their commitment and capability. Questions can range from detailed aspects of the business plan to broader queries about the UK market conditions. As such, preparation for this aspect of the application is crucial, not just to obtain the Innovator Founder Visa but to lay a robust foundation for your future venture in the UK.

    Potential Interview Questions and Answers for Innovator Founder Applicants

    1. Why Do You Intend to Do Business in the UK?
      • I intend to do business in the UK because it offers a conducive environment for innovation and has a thriving market in my business sector. The regulatory framework and access to talent further make the UK an ideal location for my venture.
    2. Would You Be Able to Implement the Business Plan to a Successful Business in the UK?
      • Absolutely, my business plan has been carefully crafted with key performance indicators and milestones. I’ve also undertaken a risk assessment and developed contingency plans. My prior experience in similar ventures provides me with the skills needed for successful implementation.
    3. How Did You Assess Market Demand for Your Product/Service?
      • I’ve conducted comprehensive market research including surveys, focus groups, and an analysis of competitors. The data collected indicates a strong demand for the product/service I intend to offer.
    4. What Are Your Plans for Scaling the Business?
      • I plan to initiate the business at a local level and then scale it regionally and nationally. There is also potential for international expansion. My business plan outlines the resources needed at each stage and a timeline for growth.
    5. How Do You Plan to Finance the Business?
      • Initially, I plan to invest my own capital and use the Innovator Founder Visa funds for the startup phase. Going forward, the business will be funded through its revenue, and if necessary, I’m open to external funding from venture capital or angel investors.

    6. Points Requirements

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Points Requirements

    Overview of Point Distribution

    To apply for entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK under the Innovator Founder category, an applicant must score a total of 70 points. Importantly, 50 of these points must come from either the new or existing business criteria.

    Points Table for Innovator Founder Route

    Requirement & Business TypePoints
    New Business: Business Plan30
    New Business: Venture is Innovative, Viable, Scalable20
    Same Business: Prior Permission in Relevant Routes10
    Same Business: Business is Active, Trading, Sustainable20
    Same Business: Active Role in Business Management20
    Mandatory for All: English Language Requirement at Level B210
    Mandatory for All: Financial Requirement10
    UK Innovator Founder Visa Points Requirements

    Total Points Requirement

    The cumulative number of points needed to qualify for the Innovator Founder route is 70 points.

    Meeting these point criteria strengthens the Innovator Founder Visa application, increasing the likelihood of successful entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK.

    7. Endorsement Letter

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Endorsement Letter Requirements

    Endorsement Letter Essentials

    An Innovator Founder application must be supported by an endorsement letter from an approved Endorsing Body or Legacy Endorsing Body. The letter should include:

    • Name of the Endorsing Body or Legacy Endorsing Body
    • Endorsement reference number
    • Date of issue, within the last 3 months
    • Applicant’s personal details: name, date of birth, nationality, and passport number
    • Contact details of a verifier within the endorsing organization who can confirm the letter’s contents to the Home Office.

    Authorized Endorsing Bodies

    Only organizations authorized by the Home Office can issue the necessary endorsement. As of the most recent Home Office list, authorized bodies include:

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

    Additional Endorsement Confirmations

    The endorsement letter must also validate:

    • The applicant as a fit and proper person for endorsement
    • The absence of concerns over the legitimacy of the applicant’s funds or fund transfer methods
    • No suspicions regarding the applicant or their business benefiting from illicit or unexplained wealth

    Legacy Endorsement Criteria

    Legacy Endorsing Bodies, specifically those under the Innovator route prior to April 13, 2023, can still endorse applicants but under certain conditions:

    • For new businesses: the endorsement must have been issued before April 13, 2023, for the Innovator route, or the applicant had previous permission under the Start-up route from the same Legacy Endorsing Body.
    • For existing businesses: the applicant must either currently hold or have held within the past 12 months, Innovator Founder or Start-up route permission from the same Legacy Endorsing Body. These bodies can endorse only those applicants who propose the same business idea as in their previous application.

    By meeting these endorsement requirements, applicants significantly strengthen their Innovator Founder Visa applications.

    8. Criteria for New Businesses

    New Business Criteria for UK Innovator Founder Visa

    The Innovator Founder route evaluates prospective businesses based on two essential parameters: the business plan and the business’s innovativeness, viability, and scalability. Points are granted based on these elements.

    Business Plan (30 points)

    Applicants must submit a compelling business plan that not only outlines their unique contributions but also shows active participation in implementing the plan.

    Contact Point Meetings:

    Applicants must also confirm that they will have at least two Contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals during the period their visa is active.

    • Example: If you’ve conceptualized a groundbreaking mobile app for telemedicine, your business plan should include the app’s features, customer acquisition strategy, and revenue projections. Additionally, your role in coding or other developmental aspects should be evident.

    Innovativeness, Viability, and Scalability (20 points)

    The business proposal should be genuine, original, and tailored to meet new or existing market demands. Additionally, the applicant must show that the business plan is realistic and achievable based on available resources. Structured planning, along with potential for job creation and expansion into both national and international markets, is also required.

    • Example: For an entry into the sustainable food market, your idea may involve supplying local organic produce via an online platform. Market research indicating growing consumer interest in organic products can fortify your business plan, which could also detail partnerships with local farmers and eco-friendly delivery methods.

    Additional Role Requirements

    Whether you’re the sole founder or a critical member of the founding team, your role in executing the business plan and contributing to the business’s growth is crucial.

    By fulfilling these criteria, applicants significantly strengthen their Innovator Founder Visa applications for new business ventures.

    9. Criteria for Existing Businesses

    Same Business Criteria for Innovator Founder Visa UK

    Criteria for Existing Businesses in Innovator Founder Route

    When applying for an Innovator Founder Visa with an existing business, candidates are assessed on various dimensions, such as the business’s viability, its operational status, and the applicant’s role. Points are granted based on several crucial factors.

    Previous Authorization (10 points)

    Applicants should possess earlier authorization under specified visa categories such as Innovator Founder, Innovator, Start-up, or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), especially if they are continuing a previously endorsed business.

    • Example: If you have been previously endorsed as a Start-up for a technology company and intend to carry on with an Innovator Founder Visa, proper documentation confirming your business’s continuity and previous endorsement is essential.

    Business Viability (20 points)

    To qualify, applicants must prove their business is currently active, operates sustainably, and has made substantial strides in accordance with its business plan. A mandatory condition is the business’s registration with Companies House, where the applicant must be listed as a director or member.

    • Example: For an endorsed e-commerce platform active for two years, proof of sustainability could include sales reports, customer testimonials, and financial statements.

    Operational Role (20 points)

    Applicants need to demonstrate their significant involvement in the daily functions and growth of the business.

    • Example: If you’re the founder of a marketing agency, evidence of your active participation might consist of email correspondences, documented meetings, or strategic plans that display your role in customer engagement, employee management, and overall business planning.

    Additional Requirements

    Applicants must have gained earlier authorization through appropriate channels, and their endorsement letters should verify compliance with the set criteria. Those renewing their Innovator Founder Visa are expected to have participated in at least two regular review meetings and to commit to ongoing evaluations during any future extensions.

    Real-world Commitments

    Applicants should have a track record of attending at least two regular check-in meetings with their endorsing body. Future commitments also include at least two additional regular meetings with the endorsing organization for the period their visa is active.

    By adhering to these criteria, applicants can fortify their Innovator Founder Visa applications, whether they are starting a new venture or continuing an existing one.

    10. English Language

    UK Innovator Founder Visa English Language Requirement

    English Language Proficiency Standards

    For the Innovator Founder Visa, it is crucial to meet specific English language proficiency requirements. The applicant must demonstrate their skills at level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), encompassing all four components—reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

    What is B2 Level?

    The B2 Level in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) signifies an upper-intermediate level of language proficiency. It is globally recognized and often required for various educational and occupational purposes, including immigration.

    B2 Level Skillsets

    At B2 level, individuals should have the ability to:

    • Reading: Understand complex texts on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
    • Writing: Produce clear, detailed text on various subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, providing pros and cons.
    • Speaking: Interact with fluency and spontaneity, making regular interaction with native speakers possible without strain on either party.
    • Listening: Understand the main ideas of intricate text, including both technical discussions and arguments.

    B2 Level for Innovator Founder Visa

    When applying for the Innovator Founder Visa, proving B2-level proficiency means you can effectively participate in higher education or professional settings. It ensures you can navigate daily life, socialize, and conduct business transactions in English.

    Methods for Proving B2 Level Proficiency

    Achieving and proving a B2 level proficiency in English can be done through various means, each with its own set of requirements and acceptance criteria. Here are the common ways to fulfill this requirement:

    1. Degree Taught in English
      • If you have successfully completed a degree that was taught or researched in English, this usually serves as sufficient proof.
      • Requirements: Verification of the degree and medium of instruction.
    2. National of a Majority English-Speaking Country
      • Being a citizen of a country where English is the majority spoken language usually exempts you from further testing.
      • Requirements: Valid passport or national ID confirming nationality.
    3. Age Exemptions
      • Some applicants may be exempt from the language requirement based on their age. This often applies to minors and senior citizens.
      • Requirements: Proof of age via birth certificate or other valid documents.
    4. IELTS and Other Tests
      • Taking a standardized test like IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE Academic, and scoring at least at the B2 level.
      • Requirements: Official test score reports.

    Standardized Test Scoring Equivalents for B2 Level

    • IELTS: A score of 5.5 to 6.5 is generally considered to be B2 level.
    • TOEFL: Scores ranging from 72 to 94 on the iBT.
    • PTE Academic: A score range of 59-75.

    Process Steps for Standardized Testing

    1. Select a Test: Choose a test that is accepted by the Innovator Founder Visa application process.
    2. Prepare: Use study guides, courses, and practice tests to prepare.
    3. Book a Slot: Register and schedule your test.
    4. Take the Test: Complete the test on the scheduled date.
    5. Receive Scores: Obtain the official test report or certificate.
    6. Submit: Include the test results in your Innovator Founder Visa application.

    11. Financial Requirements

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Financial Requirements

    When applying for a UK Innovator Founder Visa, demonstrating financial stability is crucial. Applicants generally must hold at least £1,270 in their bank accounts for a continuous 28-day period. However, this requirement is waived for those who have been legally residing in the UK for a year or more at the time of application.

    Detailed Criteria for Financial Requirements

    To offer a comprehensive understanding, let’s delve into the different scenarios that could apply to financial requirements:

    Waiver for Long-term UK Residents

    If you’ve been living legally in the UK for 12 months or more at the time of your application, you’re automatically exempt from having to demonstrate the financial requirements.

    Requirements for New or Short-term Residents

    For those applying for an entry visa or who have been in the UK for less than 12 months, the general rule is to have a minimum of £1,270 held in a bank account for a continuous period of 28 days.

    28-Day Holding Period

    This stipulation means the funds should be in your bank account, without interruption, for 28 consecutive days.

    Real-world Example for Financial Requirements

    To make this easier to understand, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario:

    John, an Innovator Founder already in the UK, satisfies the financial requirements for himself. He wants Emma, his partner, and their two children to join him.

    In this scenario, John already qualifies based on his own financial stability. However, for Emma and their two children to also qualify:

    • Emma would need to show a balance of at least £285, held either solely or jointly with John.
    • An additional £315 would be required for the first child.
    • Another £200 would be needed for the second child.

    So, in total, John and Emma would need to maintain a balance of £800 (£285 for Emma, £315 for the first child, and £200 for the second child), on top of the funds required for John. These funds must also be held continuously for a 28-day period.

    By providing these specific criteria and examples, the revised section aims for greater clarity and depth while being aligned with the immigration rules.

    12. Decision and Permitted Activities

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Conditions of Stay in the UK

    Decision-making Process for Innovator Founder Visa

    After reviewing the application for an Innovator Founder Visa, the decision is based on whether all suitability and eligibility criteria are met. If so, the application will be approved; otherwise, it will be denied.

    Administrative Review for Refused Applications

    For applicants who receive a refusal, there is an option to apply for an Administrative Review under the respective legal framework for such reviews.

    Duration of Stay in the UK

    The Innovator Founder Visa permits a maximum stay of 3 years in the UK.

    Conditions of Stay for UK Innovator Founder Visa Holders

    Once granted, the Innovator Founder Visa comes with specific conditions:

    • No Access to Public Funds: Visa holders cannot rely on public welfare.
    • Work Restrictions: Visa holders are only allowed to work for their established business(es). Other types of employment are permissible only if the role demands a skill level equivalent to or greater than RQF Level 3.
    • Study Permissions: Studying is allowed but may require additional permissions based on ATAS conditions.

    Work Limitations Clarified

    It’s important to note that “working for the business(es)” you’ve established doesn’t include apprenticeships or work under a contract of service with another business. This means you can’t take up a position or hire out your labor to another entity, even if it’s done through a contract with your own business or via an employment agency.

    By understanding these conditions and the decision-making process, you can better prepare your Innovator Founder Visa application to meet all required criteria.

    13. Settlement Criteria

    From UK Innovator Founder Visa to ILR

    Validity Requirements for Settlement

    To qualify for settlement as an Innovator Founder, applicants need to satisfy several prerequisites. These include the payment of any necessary fees, the provision of required biometrics, and establishing identity through an official passport or another travel document. Furthermore, the applicant should be physically present in the UK and must possess a current endorsement letter issued within the last three months before the application date.

    Suitability Criteria

    Applicants should not be in breach of immigration laws or be under immigration bail to fulfill the suitability requirements for settlement.

    Endorsement Requirements

    A crucial element for settlement eligibility is an updated endorsement letter. This letter must confirm that the applicant has achieved significant milestones as outlined in their previous business plan. For example, if the initial business plan mentioned achieving £100,000 in sales in the first year, the endorsement letter should confirm the realization of this goal.

    The letter should also provide details about the operational status of the business, including but not limited to, its sustainability, financial performance, and employment generation. Moreover, to qualify for settlement, applicants are required to meet at least two specific business performance criteria, such as revenue generation, job creation, or intellectual property registration.

    The endorsement letter serves as a comprehensive evaluation of your business venture and plays a decisive role in the settlement process. It’s a testament to your active and instrumental role in the day-to-day management and growth of the business.

    Job Creation Standards

    If the application relies on job creation criteria, specific guidelines dictate the type and duration of jobs that must be created. For instance, each job should exist for at least 12 months and comply with all relevant UK legislation, such as the National Minimum Wage Act.

    Qualifying Period and Continuous Residence

    Applicants must have spent a minimum of three years in the UK under this visa route. Additionally, they should meet the continuous residence requirement during this period.

    Knowledge of Life in the UK

    Applicants must fulfill the Knowledge of Life in the UK requirement, which generally involves passing a test and potentially taking a language course.

    Decision-making Process

    Different outcomes are possible for a settlement application. These range from outright acceptance to conversion into a “permission to stay” application, or a denial.

    Right to Administrative Review

    If the application is unsuccessful, applicants have the option to apply for an Administrative Review, offering a second chance to make their case.

    14. Dependant Family Members

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Requirements for Dependants

    Validity Requirements

    To apply as a dependant of an Innovator Founder, applicants must follow specific protocols:

    • EEA Nationals: Use the UK Immigration: ID Check app or relevant forms, whether inside or outside the UK.
    • Outside UK Applicants: Opt for a Dependent partner visa or Dependent child visa.
    • Inside UK Applicants: Include the dependent on the “Start-Up or Innovator permission to stay” form if applying alongside the Innovator.

    Example: For Innovators applying within the UK, partners can be included on the same application form, simplifying the process.

    Key Eligibility Criteria

    Dependants are required to:

    • Pay any relevant fees and the Immigration Health Charge.
    • Submit required biometrics.
    • Present a valid passport or equivalent travel document.
    • Be associated with a person applying for or holding Innovator Founder status.

    Additional Endorsement Requirements

    To substantiate the Innovator Founder’s application, additional supporting documents such as business plans, market research, or investor letters may be needed.

    Suitability Criteria

    Applicants must comply with immigration laws and should not be under immigration bail.

    Eligibility Requirements

    Dependants must secure entry clearance prior to entering the UK and may need to undergo medical tests.

    Relationship Criteria

    The applicant should be the spouse or child of a person with Innovator Founder status or an applicant for the same. Verification may be necessary.

    Financial Criteria

    Financial prerequisites differ based on the Innovator’s length of stay in the UK.

    • Example: Dependants of Innovators residing in the UK for over a year need not show additional financial proof. For those under a year, funds of £285 for a partner, £315 for the first child, and £200 for additional children are required, maintained for at least 28 days as per Appendix Finance.

    Decision-Making Process

    Applications fulfilling all criteria will be approved; otherwise, they will be rejected. Unsuccessful applicants can seek an Administrative Review.

    Conditions for Grant

    Dependants’ permissions will align with the Innovator Founder’s duration and may include stipulations like no access to public funds.

    15. Settlement of Dependants in the UK

    UK Innovator Founder Visa to ILR for Dependants

    Validity Requirements for Settlement

    Partners or children seeking UK settlement via the Innovator Founder route must adhere to specific protocols:

    • Use GOV.UK online forms: “Settlement as a partner or parent” for partners and “Settlement as a Child” for children.
    • Pay all relevant fees.
    • Submit necessary biometrics.
    • Present a valid travel document.
    • Be physically in the UK.
    • Apply as a partner or child of someone with Innovator Founder status or a pending application.

    Note: Incomplete or erroneous applications risk rejection.

    Suitability Criteria

    Applicants must comply with Part 9 of the UK immigration rules and should have no violations of immigration laws or immigration bail status.

    Relationship Criteria

    The dependant must be a partner or child of someone who:

    • Is also applying for Innovator Founder-based settlement.
    • Has settled or become a British citizen, provided they had Innovator Founder status during their time of settlement.

    Additional conditions for children are based on parental status and other exceptional circumstances.

    Age and Care Requirements

    Children must be under 18 during application, unless previously granted dependent child status. Compliance with UK care and accommodation laws is obligatory.

    Financial and Residence Criteria

    Partners need to demonstrate a continuous 5-year UK residence as a dependant of the Innovator Founder.

    Language and Cultural Knowledge

    English proficiency up to level B1 is required, along with familiarity with life in the UK, unless exemptions are applicable.

    Decision-Making Process

    Successful applications fulfilling all requirements will result in settlement. Inadequate applications will be refused, with an option for Administrative Review.

    16. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    UK Innovator Founder Visa Route: Key points

    What is the UK Innovator Founder Visa Route?

    The UK Innovator Founder Visa Route replaces the previous Innovator and Start-up routes. This visa category allows non-UK resident entrepreneurs and business owners to establish and operate a business in the UK. It offers more flexibility and inclusivity than its predecessors and is endorsement-based.

    Can I Apply for Permanent Settlement under the Innovator Founder Visa Route?

    Yes, holders of the Innovator Founder Visa can apply for permanent settlement, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), in the UK.

    Can My Family Join Me in the UK under the Innovator Founder Visa Route?

    Yes, your spouse, partner, and dependent children can join you in the UK and apply as dependents.

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

    This visa allows an initial stay of up to 3 years in the UK, which can be extended after fulfilling certain criteria.

    How Much Does the UK Innovator Founder Visa Cost?

    The endorsement fee is £1,000, not including VAT. The main visa application fee varies based on your location: £1,036 for applications from outside the UK and £1,292 for those within the UK.

    Are There Any Specific Documents I Should Bring to the Interview?

    Bring essential documents like your business plan and market research to the interview to substantiate your responses.

    What Does ‘Genuine Innovator Founder’ Mean?

    A Genuine Innovator Founder has business plans and qualifications that align closely with the Innovator Founder Visa requirements.

    How Does Prior Business Experience Affect My Application?

    Prior business experience, especially in entrepreneurship, strengthens your application by serving as evidence of your capabilities.

    Is Market Research Important for the Genuine Innovator Founder Requirement?

    Yes, comprehensive market research demonstrates your understanding of the market, adding robustness to your application.

    What Happens If I Perform Poorly in the Interview?

    A poor interview performance could lead to your application being rejected or more rigorous scrutiny of your business plan and qualifications.

    For further information and details, please refer to Immigration Rules Appendix Innovator Founder.