Innovator Founder Visa Route 2024

The new innovator founder visa route 2024 commenced from 13 April 2023. You don’t need £50,000 to apply for an innovator founder visa.

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    Innovator founder visa guidance 2024

    The Innovator Founder Visa is for start-up entrepreneurs and experienced businesspersons seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants do not need to have any specific level of funds to invest in their proposed business, but must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea, supported by a business plan, which has been approved by an endorsing body.  The Innovator Founder Visa route will open on 13 April 2023.

    If you require Immigration Advice Services or help with an immigration problem, please contact +441614644140 or email us at info@deluxelawchambers.co.uk for fast, professional, and affordable immigration advice from our highly experienced UK immigration lawyers. You can book an appointment online for a detailed immigration consultation.

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    Requirements for innovator founder visa

    In order to qualify for an Innovator Founder Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

    • You are at least 18 years old;
    • You have an endorsement letter from an approved UK endorsing body that confirms that:
      • You are a fit and proper person to receive endorsement under the Innovator Founder route;
      • The endorsing body has no concerns over the source of any funds invested into your business;
      • The endorsing body has no reason to believe that you or your business may be the beneficiary of illicit or unexplained wealth;
      • You have a business plan and you either generated or made a significant contribution to the ideas in that business plan;
      • You will have a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan;
      • You will have at least two Contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals;
      • You are either the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team; and
      • You have an innovative, viable and scalable business venture; 
    • Your endorsement letter was issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Innovator visa application;
    • You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking);
    • If you are outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months, you have at least £1270 to support yourself, plus £285 for a dependent partner, £315 for a first child and £200 for each additional child;
    • Your application does not fall for refusal on general grounds for refusal;
    • You have provided a TB test certificate, if required.

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    Investment Funds Requirement for an Innovator Founder Visa

    Innovator Founder Visa applicants do not need to show any specific amount of funds to invest in their proposed business.

    However, the requirement to have a ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea means that, in practice, you will need to demonstrate that you have access to a level of investment funds that is sufficient to set up and grow your business. 

    The investment funds requirement for an Innovator Founder Visa is, therefore, a flexible provision that is capable of being satisfied by anyone with a genuine proposal for an innovative business and an appropriate level of funds to deliver it, based on the specific financial needs of their business. 

    Innovator Founder Visa General Requirements

    The endorsing body will need to confirm that:

    • You are a fit and proper person to receive endorsement under the Innovator Founder route;
    • The endorsing body has no concerns over the source of any funds invested into your business;
    • The endorsing body has no reason to believe that you or your business may be the beneficiary of illicit or unexplained wealth.

    Innovator Founder Visa Business Plan Requirement

    In order to satisfy the Innovator Founder business plan requirement, you will need to have a business plan and have either generated or made a significant contribution to the ideas in that business plan. 

    You will also need to demonstrate that you will have a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan and confirm that you will have at least two Contact point meetings with your endorsing body at regular intervals during your period of permission.  

    You will also need to be either the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team.

    Innovator Founder Visa Innovative, Viable and Scalable Business Requirement

    In order to satisfy the innovative, viable and scalable business requirement for an Innovator Founder Visa, your business idea will need to meet all of the following criteria:

    • Innovation: You must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
    • Viability:  Your business plan must be realistic and achievable based on your available resources and you must have, or be actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run your business;
    • Scalability:  There must be evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

    Same Business Endorsement Criteria 

    If you are pursuing a business that has previously been assessed by a Home Office approved endorsing body while you had permission on the Innovator, Innovator Founder, Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route, either for a previous endorsement application or at a contact point, then you may also apply for a further endorsement as an Innovator Founder. 

    This might be appropriate if you are looking to switch into the Innovator Founder route from one of the aforementioned routes or apply for an extension of stay as an Innovator Founder.

    In order to qualify for an endorsement on the basis of running the same business as in a previous endorsement application, and receive an Innovator Founder endorsement letter, you will need to 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 business;
    • Your business is active, trading and sustainable; 
    • You have made significant progress against your business plan;
    • You are active in the day-to-day management and development of your business

    If you have, or last had, permission as an Innovator or Innovator Founder, you will also need to demonstrate that you attended at least 2 Contact point meetings with your endorsing body (or similar checkpoints with a legacy endorsing body) at regular intervals during your period of permission and confirm that you will have at least two Contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals during your period of permission.

    List of Approved Innovator Founder Visa Endorsing Bodies

    The Innovator Founder route will open on 13 April 2023.  Once the route has opened we will publish a list of organisations which are currently approved by the Home Office to issue an endorsement letter in connection with an application under the Innovator Founder route.

    Previous Endorsing Bodies, known as ‘Legacy Endorsing Bodies’, may continue to support those Innovators who were endorsed under the former Innovator Rules until they reach Indefinite Leave to Remain. 

    If you were endorsed before 13 April 2023 by a ‘Legacy Endorsing Body’ then you will be permitted to rely on your endorsement and do not need to apply to one of the currently approved endorsing bodies, provided that your endorsement letter is dated before 13 April 2023.

    UK Innovator Founder Visa English Language Requirement

    Unless an exemption applies, Innovator Founder Visa applicants must show English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of at least level B2.  

    Innovator Founder Visa Financial Requirement

    An applicant who is applying for entry clearance as an Innovator Founder will need to show that they have at least £1,270 in personal funds held for a 28-day period prior to the date of application.

    Applying for an Innovator Founder Visa as Part of a Team

    You do not need to be the sole founder of your business and you may be a member of a founding team.  However, if applying as part of a founding team you will need to be an instrumental member of the team and each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body. 

    Switching Into the Innovator Founder Visa Category

    Applications for Innovator Founder visas can be made from outside the UK, but it is also possible to switch into the Innovator Founder visa category from within the UK provided you do not have, or were not last granted, permission as a 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 current Home Office application fee for an Innovator Founder Visa is £1,036 if applying from outside the UK or £1,292 if applying to switch into the category from within the UK.

    Innovator Founder Visa Validity Period

    Your initial Innovator Founder Visa will be valid for 3 years.  It is possible to extend an Innovator Founder Visa for periods of 3 years at a time, subject to being re-endorsed each time. There is no maximum time limit in the Innovator Founder category.

    You will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) as an Innovator Founder after spending 3 years in the Innovator Founder Visa category.

    Innovator Founder Visa Conditions of Stay

    As an Innovator Founder Visa holder you will need to abide by various conditions of stay.

    You will be expected to work for the business or businesses that you have established.  You will be permitted to engage in employment outside the running of your business, provided any such secondary employment is in a skilled role (i.e. skilled to at least RQF Level 3).

    Innovator Founder Visa Contact Point Meetings 

    You will need to have at least two contact point meetings with your endorsing body at regular intervals during your period of permission as an Innovator Founder.   A contact point  meeting is a checkpoint assessment between you and your endorsing body to assess progress against your business plan. 

    The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress in relation to either your original or a new business idea that is innovative, scalable and viable. 

    Your Innovator Founder Visa may be cancelled if you fail to undergo a contact point meeting with your endorsing body.

    Indefinite Leave to Remain as an Innovator Founder

    In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator Founder you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that:

    • You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that is satisfied that you have shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement, you are registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, your business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months and you have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business;;
    • You satisfy at least two of the following:
      • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering your business;
      • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for settled workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year;
      • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers with no average salary requirement;
      • The number of customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and 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 have spent not more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the 3 years prior to the date of application; and
    • You have sufficient knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.

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