UK Innovator Founder Visa Roadmap

UK Innovator Founder Visa Roadmap

In April 2023, the Innovator Founder visa replaced both the innovator and start up visa. If you are a foreign national interested in investing or starting a business, the innovator founder Visa category allows you to enter the UK and start initiating your business plan. In addition, the Innovator Founder category enables your immediate family to accompany you to the UK. This includes your spouse and any children under 18 years old.


UK Innovator Founder Visa Roadmap

The UK innovator Founder Visa is a popular route for individuals aspiring to start a new and creative business in the United Kingdom.

Here is the roadmap to obtaining a UK Innovator Founder Visa:

  • Eligibility Criteria: Verify that you meet the eligibility criteria, which requires an innovative business idea, and passing an English language proficiency test.
  • Business Idea and Plan: Craft a comprehensive business idea and plan that showcases your potential to establish an efficient operation in the UK. Your document should be comprehensive, including information on goals, target markets, competitors, and financial projections. The business idea must be innovative, meaning that it is not currently available in the UK market.
  • Endorsement: Acquire an endorsement from a UK endorsing body. This step is essential, as they will evaluate your business plan as sufficiently innovative and determine if it meets all the requirements for endorsement. The number of endorsing bodies have now become extremely limited.  If you are extending your existing Innovator or start up visa, you can rely on the same endorsing body as before.
  • Visa Application: Submit your visa application and all necessary documents, including your business plan and endorsement letter, to the UK Home Office.
  • Biometric Information: Make an appointment with a biometric company to provide your fingerprints and take a photograph.
  • Visa Decision: Wait for a decision on your visa application, which typically takes three weeks.
  • Arriving in the UK: Once you receive your visa, you can enter and start working on your business venture. First, however, remember that you must report to an endorsing body within three months of arrival in the UK for approval.
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain: After three years on an Innovator Visa, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK, granting you the freedom to remain without any restrictions on where and when you may live, or what you can invest in.


How Long Is A UK Innovator Visa Valid For?

Innovator visas can be granted for three years and four months. However, if specific requirements are met, you can then apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. For more information, see the section below on Entrepreneur Visa extensions.


Innovator Visa – Indefinite Leave To Remain

If the following conditions are met, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after spending three years on an Innovator visa:

  • The business remains actively trading, is sustainable and can demonstrate it has achieved many of the goals that were set out in the business plan.
  • The business remains endorsed by an official endorsing body.
  • Evidence that you have had day to day management of the business.
  • You can evidence that you can continue maintaining yourself and your family financially.
  • You have spent the majority of your time in the UK.

You must also meet at least two of the following requirements:

  • You have doubled the number of customers since you started the business.
  • You have undertaken significant R&D and application for IP protection
  • The business has received a gross income of least £1,000,000 GBP in the most recent financial year.
  • You have helped create at least 10 full-time jobs for UK residents, or 5 full-time jobs paying a gross annual income of at least £25,000 each.


Final Words

Overall, the UK Innovator Visa provides a clear path for individuals who want to start a business in the UK. However, the process can be complex, and it’s essential to seek professional guidance to ensure you meet all the requirements and provide all the necessary documentation for a successful application.

We are a London-based firm specialising in immigration, human rights, and business law. Cromwell Wilkes offers award-winning legal advice and representation to individuals and corporations in the UK and overseas.

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