Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator Founder route is for a person seeking to start a business in the

  1. The application must be supported by an endorsing body approved by the Home Office

The Innovator Founder route opened in April 2023 to replace the Innovator Route and the Start Up route.

What has changed?

  • the removal of the £50k minimum fund requirement currently applied to those coming to the UK to establish an innovative business
  • relaxed restrictions on Innovator Founders engaging in employment outside the running of their business
  • reduced check-in requirement with endorsing body
  • time spent in the UK under this route can count towards settlement

What are the requirements for the Innovator Founder visa?

The criteria to meet is different if your business is new or the same business that was previously endorsed by an endorsing body when you had a relevant visa.

New business

Business plan

  • you must have a business plan and have either generated or made a significant contribution to the ideas in that business plan
  • you must show that you will have a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan
  • you must confirm that you will have at least two contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals during your period of permission
  • you must be either the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team

Innovative, viable and scalable business

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

The endorsing body must state in the endorsement letter that they are satisfied your business meets these requirements.

An applicant must have a key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.

Same business – if the business has already been endorsed.

If you are applying under the same business criteria, you must have or have last had permission as an Innovator Founder or on the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and the letter of endorsement must confirm that you meet the following requirements:

  • the business must have been previously assessed by an endorsing body or a ‘legacy endorsing body’ while the applicant had permission under the Innovator Founder, Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route
  • if you have or last had permission as an innovator founder, you must demonstrate that you have attended at least 2 contact point meetings with your endorsing body at regular intervals during your grant of leave, or similar regular checkpoint assessments with their legacy endorsing body, and confirm that you will have at least 2 meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals during any further leave.
  • Business is active, trading and sustainable – you must have made significant progress against your business plan and the business must be registered with Companies House with you listed as a director or member of that business.

You must also be actively involved in the day-to-day management and development of your business.

Requirements for both new and same business

You must demonstrate that you have English Language ability of at least level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Language.

You must also satisfy the financial requirement by showing funds of at least £1,270 for a 28-day period, unless the applicant is applying for permission to stay and has lawfully been in the UK for 12 months at the date of application.

What happens if my application is successful?

You will be granted an Innovator Founder visa which will be valid for 3 years. You may be able to apply for settlement after 3 years.

What happens if my innovator founder application is not successful?

You may be able to challenge the decision by Administrative Review. See Challenge a Home Office decision.

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