The UK Innovator Founder Visa is a visa category introduced by the UK government in 2023. It is designed for entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the UK and are seeking to obtain a visa that will allow them to do so. In this article, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the Innovator Founder Visa UK.
1)What is the Innovator Founder Visa UK?
The UK Innovator Founder Visa is a visa category designed for entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the UK. Unlike the existing Innovator route, which requires a minimum investment of £50,000, the new route does not impose a minimum investment requirement. 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. 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.
2)What are the eligibility requirements for the Innovator Founder Visa UK?
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.
3) What are the main requirements for Innovator Founder Visa? To be eligible for The UK Innovator Founder Visa, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Possess an endorsement letter from a UK endorsing body that confirms the following:
- You are a suitable candidate for endorsement under the Innovator Founder route
- The endorsing body has no concerns regarding the source of your invested funds
- The endorsing body has no reason to believe that you or your business may be the beneficiary of unlawful or unexplained wealth
- You have a business plan and have either created or made a significant contribution to the ideas in that plan
- You will have an active role in carrying out the business plan on a day-to-day basis
- You will participate in at least two Contact Point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals
- You are either the sole founder or a significant member of the founding team
- You have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea.
- The endorsement letter was issued within 3 months prior to your Innovator visa application date
- Demonstrate proficiency in the English language, at a minimum CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
- Have at least £1270 in funds to support yourself if applying from outside the UK or if you have been in the UK for less than 12 months. If you have dependents, you must also have additional funds of £285 for a partner, £315 for a first child, and £200 for each additional child.
- Meet the general grounds for approval and not fall under general grounds for refusal
- Provide a valid TB test certificate, if required.
4) Can I join an existing business under Innovator Founder Visa category?
Applicants under the Innovator Founder Visa Route are expected to start a new innovative business that does not already exist in the UK. This is to encourage innovation and to ensure that the business will have a positive impact on the UK economy.
If an applicant wishes to join an existing business, the business should not have started trading. This means that the business must be in its early stages of development and must not have generated any income or made any sales. The applicant must also have an active role in the development and direction of the business.
5) Can I bring my family with me on the Innovator Founder Visa UK?
Yes, you can bring your spouse or partner and any dependent children under the age of 18 with you to the UK on the Innovator Founder Visa UK. They will be able to stay in the UK for the same duration as your visa and can work or study while in the UK.
6) Are there any restrictions on the type of business I can set up?
There are no restrictions on the type of business an applicant can set up under the Innovator Founder Visa Route. Applicants are free to choose any industry and location within the UK, as long as the business idea is innovative, viable, and scalable.
Furthermore, applicants are allowed to be involved in other businesses as employees while working on their main business idea, as long as they are able to demonstrate that their main business idea remains the focus of their efforts.
7) How long Innovator Founder Visa is granted for?
The UK Innovator Founder visa is valid for 3 years, and after that time, the visa holder may be eligible to apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR) if they meet certain criteria.
To be eligible for ILR under the Innovator Founder visa category, the visa holder must have lived in the UK continuously for at least 3 years, have spent at least 180 days per year in the UK, and have demonstrated that their business has made significant progress, such as creating jobs, generating revenue, or winning awards.
It is important to note that the endorsing body will assess the progress of the business during the endorsement process and will also provide ongoing support and guidance to the visa holder throughout the 3-year visa period. This is to help ensure that the business is successful and meets the criteria for ILR.
8) Are there any work restrictions on the Innovator Founder Visa category?
The Innovator Founder visa terms permit you to take on employment opportunities and engage in work beyond your own venture, as long as it pertains to qualified work. This modification will particularly appeal to individuals with entrepreneurial ambitions, as establishing a business from the ground up generally involves financial uncertainties.
9) Which Endorsing Body should I apply to?
The Home Office has authorised certain organisations as Endorsing Bodies to evaluate the eligibility of individuals seeking the Innovator Founder visa pathway. These Endorsing Bodies possess specialised knowledge in particular fields or industries and are responsible for evaluating the plausibility of the applicant’s business concept or plan, as well as their capabilities, experience, and likelihood of succeeding in the United Kingdom.
The following are the Endorsing Bodies that have received UK government approval for endorsing Innovator Founder visa applications:
- Envestors Limited,
- UK Endorsement Services,
- Innovator International,
- The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP)
(GEP can only endorse applicants who have already been invited to participate in their programme).
Each Endorsing Body has its own set of criteria for selecting applicants.
Tech Nomads collaborates with all the Endorsing Bodies mentioned above and can provide assistance in selecting and communicating with them.
10) Can I apply for an Innovator Founder Visa as a team?
Yes, it is possible for a team of entrepreneurs to apply for an Innovator Founder Visa. However, each individual member of the team must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body in order to qualify for the visa.
Each member of the team must meet the eligibility criteria for the Innovator Founder Visa and demonstrate that they have the necessary skills, experience, and innovative business idea to succeed in the UK. Additionally, the endorsing body will assess the viability and potential impact of the proposed business idea, as well as the skills and experience of each individual team member, before providing an endorsement.
It is important to note that while a team may apply together, each individual member of the team must have a clear and distinct role in the proposed business venture
11) What is the role of Endorsing Body once I received an Endorsement?
Your endorsing body plays a major role during your stay in the UK after getting your innovator Founder Visa. You will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body as they will monitor your progress at 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months checkpoints. If they are unhappy, they may withdraw your endorsement.
12) What if my Innovator Founder visa application is refused?
If your Innovator Founder visa application is refused, you may have the right to appeal the decision or apply for an administrative review. The exact process will depend on the reason for the refusal and the specific circumstances of your case.
If you choose to appeal the decision, you must do so within 28 days of receiving the refusal notice.
Alternatively, you may be able to request an administrative review of the decision. This involves asking the Home Office to review the decision and consider any new evidence or information that was not previously provided. However, administrative reviews are only available in limited circumstances and may not always be successful.
In some cases, it may be possible to re-apply for the Innovator Founder visa, either after addressing the reasons for the initial refusal or by submitting a new and improved application.
It is important to seek professional advice and guidance if your Innovator Founder visa application is refused, in order to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.
13) Is there any residence requirement should I wish to apply for ILR?
Yes, if you are considering applying for ILR you will need to 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.
14) Can I switch to the Innovator Founder Visa UK from another visa category?
Yes, you can switch to the Innovator Founder Visa UK from certain visa categories.
If you’re currently in the UK on a different type of visa, you may be able to switch to an Innovator Founder visa. However, your partner or child’s visa won’t automatically switch and will remain valid until its original end date if they don’t switch. They can either apply at the same time as you or before their current visa expires. It’s important to apply before your current visa expires.
To be eligible to switch, you must meet the eligibility requirements. However, you cannot switch to this visa if you currently hold a visit visa, a short-term student visa, a Parent of a Child Student visa, a seasonal worker visa, a domestic worker in a private household visa, immigration bail, or permission to stay outside the immigration rules (such as on compassionate grounds).
In conclusion, the Innovator Founder Visa UK is an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the UK. If you meet the eligibility requirements and have a viable business idea, this visa category can provide you with a pathway to success in the UK. We hope that this article has answered some of your questions about the Innovator Founder Visa UK.
If you have any additional questions, we suggest that you seek guidance from our relocation experts. Additionally, you can take our Pre-Qualified test to assess your eligibility and receive a free consultation for your specific case and business idea.
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