Innovator Founder Visa

For advice on the innovator founder visa and business, immigration call our immigration lawyers at Connaught Law at 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.

The Innovator Founder route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK based on an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea they have generated, or to which they have significantly contributed.

An application for entry clearance or permission to stay on the Innovator Founder route must meet all the following validity requirements:

  • any fee and Immigration Health Charge must have been paid
  • the applicant must have provided any required biometrics
  • the applicant must have provided a passport or other document which satisfactorily established their identity and nationality
  • the applicant must be at least 18 years old on the date of application
  • the applicant must have been issued with an endorsement letter by an endorsing body no more than 3 months before the date of application and that endorsement must not have been withdrawn

Eligibility requirements

An applicant for entry clearance or permission to stay must be awarded 70 points from the categories below, of which 50 must either be under the ‘New Business’ criteria or under the ‘Same Business’ criteria, but not both.

New Business:

  • Business plan – 30 points
  • The business venture is innovative, viable, and scalable – 20 points

Same Business:

Applicant’s previous permission was in the Innovator Founder (including Innovator under Appendix Innovator of the rules before 13 April 2023), Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and they are pursuing a business assessed by a Home Office approved endorsing body either for the previous endorsement or at a contact point during their last grant of leave – 10 points

Business is active, trading, and sustainable and demonstrates significant achievements against the business plan – 20 points

The applicant is active in day-to-day management and development of business – 20 points

Mandatory for all applicants:

  • English Language requirement at level B2 – 10 points
  • Financial requirement – 10 points

Innovator teams

Applicants do not need to be the sole founder of the business and may be a member of an entrepreneurial team and share the same business idea and plan as another Innovator Founder team member. However, each member of the Innovator Founder team must be issued their own individual endorsement and meet all the requirements of the route in their own right

Multiple innovator founders can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company. However, these are not linked as ‘team’ applications and each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body. Each applicant must also independently demonstrate that they each have a separate £50,000 available to invest where the application is under the ‘new business’ criterion.

General Requirements for an Endorsement

The application must be supported by an endorsement letter from an endorsing body or Legacy endorsing body which must contain the following information:

  • the name of the endorsing body or legacy endorsing body
  • their endorsement reference number
  • the date of issue, which must be no earlier than 3 months before the date of application
  • the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality, and passport number
  • the name and contact details (telephone number, email and work address of an individual at the endorsing body or legacy endorsing body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested

An endorsement letter from an endorsing body must confirm that:

  • the applicant is considered a fit and proper person to receive endorsement under the rules and guidelines of the Innovator Founder route
  • the endorsing body has no concerns over the legitimacy of sources of funds or modes of transfer of funds invested by the applicant into their endorsed business
  • the endorsing body has identified no reason to believe that the applicant or their endorsed business may be the beneficiary of illicit or otherwise unsatisfactorily explained wealth

Innovator Founder Visa endorsing bodies

The government operates a list of authorized bodies and organizations permitted to endorse Innovator visa applications. Contact us for advice on making your application to the relevant endorsing body.

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 applicants also need to pay a £1,000 (ex. VAT) endorsement fee to the relevant endorsing body.

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 canceled 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 the:

  • 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.

Why Us

We have experienced business immigration solicitors, who provide prompt and cost-effective advice to any individual applying for Innovator Founder Visa from overseas or within the UK. By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  We will assist you with all aspects of business immigration law, including applying for an initial application to extension or settlement.  If you wish to discuss this, please phone our London office on 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.

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