Innovator Founder Visa

The Home Office has implemented significant revisions to the Innovator visa route, effective from 13 April 2023. The Innovator visa, initiated in March 2019, permitted foreign nationals to enter the UK for establishing innovative businesses. The recent changes introduce the Innovator Founder route, aiming to facilitate entry for genuinely innovative entrepreneurs keen on establishing their businesses in the UK.

UK Innovator Founder Visa

Changes to the Current Innovator Visa Route from 13 April 2023

The Innovator Founder route, replacing the existing Innovator visa, maintains a similar structure but with more flexible criteria to accommodate truly innovative entrepreneurs. Notably, the £50,000 minimum investment fund requirement has been eliminated. Instead, applicants must demonstrate sufficient capital to launch their business idea, tailoring the amount based on the specific needs of the venture.

Innovator Founder visa holders now have the flexibility to engage in employment outside their innovative business, provided the secondary employment is in a skilled role of at least RQF level 3 (A-level and above). This visa is valid for 3 years, with an option to apply for settlement at the end of this period.

The changes to the Innovator visa route render the Start-up visa category obsolete, closing it to new applicants unless they received their endorsement letter before 13 April 2023.

Who is the UK Innovator Founder Visa Route Designed For?

Eligibility for an Innovator Founder visa is for individuals who have played a pivotal role in developing a new business concept they wish to bring to the UK. Requirements include having a new, innovative, viable, and scalable business idea, with potential for growth and job creation in the UK and beyond. Relevant skills, qualifications, and entrepreneurial experience are also crucial.

Applicants may need to provide a detailed business plan to demonstrate how they meet these requirements.

What Do I Need to Do Before Applying for an Innovator Founder Visa?

Before applying, aspiring entrepreneurs must pitch their business concept to a Home Office-approved endorsing body. Upon satisfying the endorsing body that the business idea is innovative, viable, and scalable, an endorsement letter will be issued for use in the visa application.

Additional Requirements

In addition to obtaining an endorsement letter, applicants must show they have funds to support themselves and their family in the UK and meet the English language requirement (B2 – intermediate standard). The Home Office must be satisfied with the innovation, viability, and scalability of the proposed business and may conduct interviews to assess application credibility.

Period of Leave and Visa Extension

If approved, Innovator Founder visa holders are granted leave for a maximum initial period of 3 years. Extension applications are possible, contingent upon meeting various requirements, including the pursuit of a business assessed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body, active and sustainable trading, and continued involvement in day-to-day business management.

Activities Permitted in the UK

Innovator Founder visa holders are permitted to work for the established business(es) and any other skilled job at RQF Level 3. Studying in the UK is also allowed, subject to certain conditions.

Bringing Family Members

The Innovator Founder visa allows the visa holder to bring a dependent spouse or partner and any dependent children under 18 at the time of the initial application.

Settlement in the UK

After 3 years of living and running a business in the UK, it may be possible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, subject to meeting Home Office criteria, such as job creation and revenue targets.

For further information about XT 24 and their personal immigration services, please contact a member of the XT 24 team who can answer questions and guide you through the process.

Human Rights Policy Analyst
Visa Specialist / Coordinator