The Innovator Founder Visa opened for applications in April 2023. The route replaced the Innovator and Start-Up immigration routes. The visa now offers a more flexible and reachable solution for those that have an innovative idea at the forefront of their business.
The Innovator Founder Visa offers a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs, endorsed by an approved body, to set up or run an innovative business in the UK. The essential keyword to remember with this visa route is ‘Innovative’. Your business or business idea must be different from what is on the UK market.
There are several benefits for Innovative Founder Visa holders, including the ability to stay in the UK for three years, expedited settlement, the freedom to work and develop your own business, and bringing your family members to the UK.
Another advantage of the Innovator Founder visa is that holders can take up secondary employment within certain parameters.
Getting Endorsement from an Approved Body
Before proceeding with your Innovator Founder Visa application, an endorsing body must assess and endorse your business idea.
Your business idea must fulfil certain criteria:
- It must be a new idea. It is not possible to join an existing trading business.
- The idea must be viable with growth potential.
- It must be scalable. You must provide evidence of your planning that includes job creation and that it will grow into the national and international market.
Applicants are often unsure whether their business idea will qualify for endorsement. Fortunately, the scope of the endorsing bodies is very wide. Breytenbachs have a good relationship with many of the endorsing bodies. We will connect applicants to the most relevant one for your business idea and provide clients full guidance on the endorsement process.
If you are successful, you will receive an endorsement letter. You can then submit your endorsement letter with the Innovator Founder visa application.
The visa holder must meet with the endorsing body after 12 months and 24 months to show that there is business progression. If your endorsing body is not satisfied and withdraws the endorsement, the Home Office may revoke your visa.
Other Criteria to Qualify for the Innovative Founder Visa
To qualify for the Innovator Founder Visa route, you have to be:
- Eighteen years or older to apply.
- You must fulfil the English language requirement.
- Meet the maintenance requirement.
- If you want to set up a new business, you must prove to your endorsing body that you have enough funding and the source of the fund. However, you do not need investment funds if your business is already established and has previously been endorsed, or you have changed your business, and this was agreed with your endorsing body.
Length of Stay on the Innovator Founder Visa
You can stay for three years if you came to the UK on this visa or switched to this visa from another visa while in the UK. You can apply to extend your stay for another three years when your visa is due to expire. There is no limit on the number of times you can extend.
However, you should be able to apply for settlement once you have been in the UK for three years.
Right to Work
The Innovator Founder Visa will allow you to set up one or several businesses.
You may work for your business, including as a director or self-employed as a member of a business partnership. You may also do skilled work outside your business. The skilled work must be on the Skilled Worker eligible occupations or need at least a Level 3 qualification.
You are not allowed to work as a professional sportsperson or coach.
Spouse and Dependants
Your spouse or partner and children can apply to join you or stay in the UK as your dependants. If they are successful in their application, their visas will end on the same date as the Innovator Founder Visa. They will also have to fulfil a maintenance requirement.
The Home Office classify dependant partners or children as follows:
- A husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner.
- Children under 18, including those born in the UK during your stay.
- Children over 18 years of age if they are currently in the UK as your dependant.
Your civil partnership or marriage must be recognised in the UK. In the case of unmarried partners, you will have to prove that you have been living together in a relationship for at least two years when you apply.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The main applicant and their dependents accompanying them to the UK must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. This surcharge is part of the application.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
One of the biggest advantages of this visa is that it can lead to early settlement in the UK. You may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK after only three years on this visa.
However, innovator founders must remember that there is a residence requirement. You cannot spend over 180 days outside the UK in a year. The 180 days are counted as days outside the UK in any rolling 12-month period during the three years leading to Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Breytenbachs thus recommend that Innovator Founders who travel frequently keep careful and accurate records of their travels.
How Breytenbachs can help you
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a highly experienced team of consultants dealing with business visas, such as the Innovator Founder Visa. We assist entrepreneurs with the entire visa application process, including preparing the matter to be submitted for endorsement from an approved endorsing body. Contact us today for advice or to proceed with your application.