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The UK Innovator Founder Visa: Your Guide to UK’s New Visa Route and Latest Updates


The UK Innovator Founder Visa, a new visa route will replace the current Start-up and Innovator visa routes from April 13th, 2023. On March 10, 2023 The UK government made changes to its immigration rules regarding the visas available for entrepreneurs and innovators. Unlike the existing Innovator route, which requires a minimum investment of £50,000, the new route does not impose a minimum investment requirement. The introduction of the Innovator Founder route will coincide with the closure of the Start-Up visa, which will only accept applications from individuals who received endorsement before April 13, 2023. In addition to the removal of the minimum investment requirement, the Innovator Founder route also includes relaxed restrictions on secondary employment. Visa holders will be able to engage in work outside of their business, as long as the job qualifies as a skilled role at RQF Level 3 or above.

What reasons for these updates?

The UK government decided to replace the Start-up visa and Innovator visa with a new Innovator Founder visa in order to streamline the application process and provide more opportunities for qualified specialists to open businesses in the UK. The Start-up visa did not meet the market’s new requirements and did not offer a path to citizenship, which meant that applicants had to apply for an Innovator visa after 2 years and get a settlement after 5 years. This complicated the path for young entrepreneurs with ambitious goals. By creating a single visa path for both young entrepreneurs and experienced founders, the UK government aims to attract talented foreign specialists who possess high skills and strong business ideas but may not have the financial resources to meet the high investment fund requirements of the previous Innovator visa.

We recommend thoroughly reviewing all aspects of the updates.

UK Innovator Founder visa. Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the Innovator Founder visa, applicants must satisfy certain requirements related to their business plan. Specifically, the applicant must have a business plan and have contributed significantly to the ideas in that plan. They must also demonstrate that they will play a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan. If you’re considering applying for the Innovator Founder Visa, there are some important requirements you should be aware of. To be eligible for this visa, you need to score at least 70 points.

Here are the key requirements:

• Preparation of Business Plan: This is the most important requirement and carries the most points. You need to have a detailed business plan and must have either generated or made a significant contribution to the ideas in that business plan. This requirement is worth 30 points.

• Business Plan must be innovative, scalable, and viable. The plan must meet new or existing market needs and/or create a competitive advantage. The plan should be realistic and achievable based on the resources available to you. This requirement is worth 20 points.

• English Requirements: You must demonstrate your proficiency in the English language. This requirement is worth 10 points.

• Financial Requirements: You must have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the UK. This requirement is worth 10 points.

However, there is no minimum capital requirement for the initial application of the visa.

UK Innovator Founder visa. Business Plan Requirement

To be eligible for an Innovator Founder visa, the applicant must meet certain business plan requirements as outlined below:

• Have a business plan and contribute significantly to the ideas in it.

• Have a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan.

• Attend at least two regular contact point meetings with the endorsing body during the permission period.

• Be the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team.

Innovative, Viable, and Scalable Business Requirements:

• Have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

• Ensure that the business plan is realistic and achievable based on available resources.

• Have or be actively developing the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to successfully run the business.

• Show evidence of structured planning and potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

Settlement by an Innovator Founder

To be eligible for settlement under the Innovator Founder category, applicants must provide an endorsement letter issued by an endorsing body or legacy endorsing body that includes various pieces of information. This includes confirmation that the applicant has achieved significant progress in their business plan, which was assessed in their previous endorsement. Additionally, the letter must confirm that the applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and that they are listed as a director or member of the business. The business must also be active and trading, and there must be indications that it will remain sustainable for at least the following 12 months.

The applicant must also have played an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business. The endorsement letter must confirm that the applicant’s business venture has met at least two of seven requirements. These requirements include investing at least £50,000 into the business and actively spending the funds furthering the business, doubling the number of customers within the past three years and having a higher number of customers than other UK businesses offering comparable products or services, engaging in significant research and development activity and applying for intellectual property protection in the UK, generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million, generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas, creating the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for settled workers, or creating the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for settled workers, each of which has a mean salary of at least £25,000 per year (gross pay, excluding any allowances).

Applicant can work for other businesses

When granted the Innovator visa, there are certain conditions that applicants must adhere to. These conditions include not having access to public funds, being permitted to work for the business(es) they have established or other employment that requires a skill level of at least RQF Level 3, and being able to study. However, it’s important to note that working for the business(es) does not include any apprenticeship or work through a contract of service with another business. This means that successful applicants cannot fill a position or offer their labor to another business, even if the work is undertaken through contracting with their own business or through a recruitment or employment agency.

Uk Innovator Founder Legacy Endorsement requirements

To apply for the Innovator Founder Visa using a Legacy Endorsement, the applicant must have a letter of endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing Body. The letter will only be accepted if it was issued before April 13, 2023, for use in the Innovator route, or if the applicant previously had permission under the Start-up route and the Endorsing Body for that previous permission is the same as the Legacy Endorsing Body supporting the current application. The letter of endorsement is necessary to earn points for the application under the new business criteria.

Summary of Benefits of the new Innovator Founder route

• The new route combines the previous Start-up and Innovator visa routes, providing more flexibility and opportunities for qualified specialists.

• The Innovator Founder route enables individuals to qualify for settlement in the UK after being continuously resident for three years. Unlike the Start-up visa, staying in the UK under the Innovator Founder route contributes towards eligibility for indefinite leave to remain, making it a more advantageous option for those seeking to settle in the UK.

• The minimum funds requirement of £50,000 for Innovator visas will be removed, making the Start-Up route unnecessary, as it didn’t require funds.

• Applicants can now work for other businesses, as long as it is not in a role that requires a skill level below RQF Level 3.

What to consider now that the Start-up visa category is closing and being replaced by the Innovator Founder visa?

With the closure of the Start-up visa category and the introduction of the Innovator Founder visa, individuals who intended or are in the process of applying for the former need to consider their options carefully. Some of the key points to keep in mind include: The deadline for new applications: The Start-up visa category will close to new applicants on 13 April 2023. If you were planning to apply for this visa, you must have your endorsement issued by an endorsing body before this date. Switching to the Innovator Founder visa: If you are currently on a Start-up visa, you may be able to switch to the Innovator Founder visa category if you meet the appropriate requirements. Make sure you understand the requirements and start planning well before your two-year Start-up visa expires.

Tech Nomads can assist you throughout the entire process, starting from the initial consultation, helping you prepare a successful business plan up to obtaining an endorsement. As the Innovator Founder visa is a newly established visa, we understand that the revamped process may be difficult to comprehend. This could lead to questions about your potential as an entrepreneur in the UK.

Our team can help you acquire an endorsement by working with the endorsing body that is best suited for your business idea.

To get a detailed free consultation, we ask you to pass our AI Generated Test, which will assess your chances of obtaining the Innovator Founder visa.