What Is The Innovator Founder Visa UK 2023?
This is a new route introduced by the Home Office which took effect from 13 April 2023. and replaces the old innovator visa. In order to be eligible for this new route, you must be able to show that your business idea is:
- New – you cannot join a business that is already trading;
- Innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market,
- Viable, with potential for growth, and;
- Scalable – you must give evidence of planning that includes creating jobs and growing into national and international markets.
You will need to get an endorsing body to assess that your business idea meets the requirements. If your business meets the eligibility requirements, the endorsing body will issue you with an endorsement letter.
Additionally, you must satisfy the following conditions to apply for the Innovator Founder visa:
- Meet the English language requirement;
- Be at least 18 years of age;
- Provide evidence of sufficient personal savings to support yourself during your stay in the UK.
Contact Lexvisa for advice on the specific requirements for a visa under this new route and whether meet these.
Setting Up A New Business
You will need to show you have sufficient investment funds and prove to the endorsing body it is enough to set up your business idea. You will also be required to prove the source of this funding.
You may be exempt from proving investment funding where:
- The business idea was endorsed for a previous visa, therefore, the business is already established, or;
- You have changed your business and this has been agreed with your endorsing body.
Before applying, extending or switching to a visa under this route, you must show you have held a minimum of £1,270 in your bank account for a period of 28 continuous days.
Funds which cannot be used towards this application are:
- Money from investment, or;
- Money you have made whilst working in the UK unlawfully.
Contact our specialist immigration Solicitors at Lexvisa for further information on the financial requirements for a visa under this route and how to prove them.
English Language Requirement
As part of applying for an Innovator Founder visa, you must show proof you meet the English language requirement. In order to do this, you must evidence your level of proficiency in the English language by:
- Passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider;
- Show certification of a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18;
- You may provide a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English (where you studied abroad) by applying for confirmation through Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
You may be exempt from this requirement if you are a national of a certain country. We advise contacting Lexvisa in order to learn whether you qualify for an exemption and for information on which documents you will need when applying under this route.
If eligible, your partner and children may apply to accompany or join you in the UK as dependants. In the event of a successful application, their visa will expire on the same date as yours.
To be eligible as a “dependant”, you must be either:
- The husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner of the applicant;
- A child (under 18) of the applicant, even if they were born in the UK during the period of time you spent in the UK;
- A child (over 18) of the applicant if they are presently in the UK as a dependant.
You will be required to evidence your relationships with your dependants through certain documentation such as marriage or birth certificates. Speak to an expert immigration Solicitor at Lexvisa for clarity on the specific documentation you must show to the Home Office for the purposes of proving your relationship with your dependants.
Your dependants will be unable to make an application to switch to a visa under this route if they already hold leave to be in the UK under one of the if they are:
- A parent of a child who is on a child student visa;
- On a short-term student visa;
- On a visit visa;
- On a domestic worker in a private household visa;
- On a seasonal worker visa;
- On immigration bail, or;
- If they were given permission to stay outside of the immigration rules i.e. due to compassionate and compelling circumstances.
When switching to a visa under this route, you will initially be granted 3 years leave. There are currently no restrictions on the amount of times you are able to extend once on this visa.
Conditions For Dependants On This Visa
Whilst on a visa under this route, your dependants are able to:
- Carry out work (there are limitations to this);
- Travel outside of the UK and return;
- Make an application to settle indefinitely after living in the UK for 5 years (so long as other criterion are also met).
How Long Does UK Innovator Visa Take?
Upon submitting your online application, providing all supporting documents and attending your biometrics appointment, you can expect to receive a decision within 3 weeks.
However, if any of the following situations apply, your application may take longer to process, and you will be notified accordingly:
- If you are applying jointly with a family member who requires an appointment, but you do not;
- If your supporting documents require verification;
- If you are required to attend an interview;
- If your personal circumstances are complex, such as having a criminal conviction.
In some instances, you may be eligible for the priority/super priority service, depending on whether you are applying from inside or outside the UK. These services mean you are able to receive a decision on your visa application in a shorter period of time, subject to an extra fee. Contact Lexvisa to see if you qualify for these services.
Extending An Innovator Founder Visa
Provided that you meet the eligibility criteria and are either operating an existing business in the UK or intend to establish a new one, you may typically apply for an extension of your Innovator Founder visa.
You must note that extending your visa does not automatically renew the visa of your partner or child. Their visa will remain valid until the original expiration date if they do not apply for an extension. They may apply for an extension at the same time as you or before the expiry date of their current visa.
You will also need to have your business / idea assessed by an endorsing body when you decide to extend. It is highly recommended to apply for an extension before your current visa expires.
To read more on this new route, visit our dedicated article here.
Does Innovator Visa Lead to Indefinite Leave To Remain (“ILR”)?
The Innovator Founder visa category provides applicants and their dependants with the option to settle in the UK after a mere 36 months. This expedited route to settlement is currently the quickest available, making it an appealing choice for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a long-lasting presence in the UK.
The fast-tracked settlement path, coupled with the other benefits of the Innovator Founder visa category, generates a more favourable environment for entrepreneurs and motivates skilled individuals to bring their innovative business concepts to the UK.
Why Instruct Our Immigration Team?
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a spouse visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a spouse visa application and are able to advise you in respect of your prospects and to ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
Our offices are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss your visa application.
a business in the United Kingdom. Applicants must show that their business is credible and viable and it must be endorsed by a respected and approved endorsing body (see below). The Innovator visa for experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business presence in the United Kingdom.
What are the key differences between the new Innovator visa and the former Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa?
Unlike the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, Applicants who wish to apply for the Innovator Visa will no longer be required to invest at least £200,000 in their proposed business. The Home Office has introduced a significant change helping potential entrepreneurs by reducing the initial investment amount from £200,000 to £50,000 for new Applicants. The funding can come from any source and Applicants will not need any investment if their business is already established and has been endorsements for an earlier visa. The funds must be held for a consecutive 90 day period with the last statement dated within 1 month from the date of submission. Paragraph INN 12.1 of the Immigration Rules confirms that there will be an English language requirement of B2.
The Home Office will no longer carry out the Genuine Entrepreneur Test but this task will be delegated to the relevant endorsement body. This should make the actual visa application process straightforward. The main difference is the introduction of the “endorsement requirement” by a relevant business sponsor.
How do I get a UK Innovator visa?
As mentioned above, the Tier 1 Innovator visa is for entrepreneurs/business people who wish to set up and establish a business presence in the United Kingdom. The following requirements must be met:
- Applicants must have a credible business idea;
- Applicants must have at least £50,000 in cash to invest in their proposed business idea;
- Applicants must meet the English language requirement (Level B2) in accordance with Paragraph INN 12.1 of the Immigration Rules;
- Applicants must meet the maintenance requirement of £945 and the hold the funds for 90 consecutive days; and
- Applicants must receive a suitable endorsement (see below).
The endorsement must be from an appropriate body which is expected to include some higher education institutions which meet the requirements. The endorsement bodies must have a proven track record of supporting entrepreneurs that are approved by the Home Office. A business plan will be required when applying for the endorsement. Applicants must meet the innovation, viability and scalability requirement to receive an endorsement.
Innovation – Applicants must demonstrate that their business idea is genuine and original. The business idea can be for a tangible product-based business or a service-related business.
Viability – Applicants must demonstrate that their business is practical and credible. Applicants would be required to show that they have the expertise or specialist knowledge of their chosen business field to enable the business to success. Applicants must prepare and submit a well-drafted business plan to show that the business has a clear vision and all the relevant considerations such as start-up costs, target market, market segmentation and competition have been taken into consideration. The business plan should also show the projected cash flow forecast for the first 3 years for the business. Information on other relevant factors such as strengths and weakness of the business and the impact of future growth/decline of the business sector they wish to operate in.
Scalability – Applicants must show that their business idea will benefit the economy in the United Kingdom and the business will contribute to job creation and growth into relevant markets.
Home Office fee for Innovator visa – The Home Office application fee remains the same as the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa £1021 (entry clearance) and £1277 (switch in-country). IHS is currently £624 per year.
Applying for an Innovator visa as a team of 2 or more
Similar to the former Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, it is possible for a team of 2 or more individuals to apply together for a Tier 1 Innovator visa for the same business. Applicants do not need to be the sole founders of the business in question as long as the founder is also applying for the visa at the same time. Applications submitted on the basis of an innovator team require extra legal submissions, as it is important to clarify what each Applicant will bring to the business. Each Applicant must obtain an endorsement in their own right, as endorsements cannot be shared. In addition to this, each Applicant must show that they have at least £50,000 available to invest in the business i.e. if there is a team of three innovators each must have £50,000 totaling to £150,000.
Can you switch to the Innovator visa?
The simple answer is yes. This is the most frequent question asked by our new or existing clients. However, it should be noted that you can only switch into an Innovator visa if were last granted valid leave on any of the following:
- Start-up migrant;
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant;
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant;
- Skilled Worker migrant; or
- A visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur.
If you were not last granted leave in any of the above you will need to apply for entry clearance from your home country or any other country where you have valid immigration status.
Will there be settlement (indefinite leave to remain) options under the Innovator visa?
Similar to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa there will be a settlement (indefinite leave to remain) option for Applicants. There is a fast-tracked settlement route for Innovators who are able to meet the following requirements (at least two must be met):
- Applicants must have invested at least £50,000 in their business;
- The business must have created at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers;
- The business must have created 5 full-time jobs for resident workers with a minimum salary of £25,000;
- The business must have generated gross revenue of at least £1 million;
- The business must show that there has been an increase in the number of business customers;
- The business has contributed to valuable research and development and has applied for intellectual property protection in the United Kingdom; or
- The business is generating a minimum of £500,000 with £100,000 from exporting overseas.
Using our Immigration Solicitors in London to submit a successful Innovator Visa application
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with an application to apply for an Innovator Visa. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications, which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your UK Innovator application succeeds, our solicitors and barristers will ensure all specified documents must be provided.
The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful Innovator Visa applications with our Immigration Solicitors in London
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a UK Innovator Visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of an Innovator Visa application and ensure that you get all the necessary points under the Points Based System.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss an Innovator Visa application.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02030110276 or complete our contact form.