The UK has a rich entrepreneurial spirit, with the likes of Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, and James Dyson all household names from the UK. It also has a proud history of welcoming immigrants to its shores, many of whom have founded successful businesses, whether locally or at a national level. The Innovator Founder Visa is designed to attract the best and the brightest to the UK by encouraging start-up entrepreneurs and experienced business people to establish their new business here.


Formally known as the Innovator visa, the Innovator Founder Visa gives far more flexibility to innovators while retaining the requirement for an innovative business idea with sufficient funds to deliver on it.


Let’s take a look at the requirements of the Innovator Founder Visa.


Basic eligibility requirements


Firstly, the basics. The Innovator Founder Visa is a specialised type of visa as the innovative business you must set up and run in the UK must be one which is different from anything else on the market.


The creation of an Innovator Founder visa business plan will play a crucial role in determining whether you gain their endorsement. The business plan must demonstrate that your business has potential for growth and be scalable – meaning that you must give evidence that your business will create jobs and have the potential for growing into national and international markets.


Contact us for more information about the innovator founder visa business plan.


You also need an endorsing body to assess your business under the above requirements. These include the following organisations:


1. Innovator International

2. Envestors Limited

3. UK Endorsement Services (UKES)

4. The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP)


It is also vital that you are able to speak, read, write and understand English. You may be asked to prove this, however if you are a national of one of the following countries then it won’t be required.


Financial requirements


You must have the funds to support yourself, as well any dependents while you are in the UK. This means that before you apply, extend or switch to an Innovator Founder visa, you must have had at least £1270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days. If you have a partner, this is an additional £285. For a child, it’s £315. For every additional child, it’s an extra £200 for each child.


When it comes to extending or switching, this requirement is only necessary if you have been in the UK for less than a year.


In terms of the fees, the current fee for an Innovator Founder Visa is £1036 if you are applying from outside the UK. If you are applying from within the UK by switching from another category, the fee will be £1292.


How long will your visa last?


The initial period your Innovator Founder visa will be valid for is 3 years. However, it is possible to extend it for 3 years at a time subject to you meeting the requirements. After 3 years, it is possible to apply for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator Founder.


What documents will you need to provide?


Flight and travel documents, plane tickets and passports for business trip, immigration, tourism. Airplane model and boarding pass on wood background. 3d illustration


Like all visa route, a number of documents must be provided. These include:


  • An endorsement letter from one of the endorsing bodies listed above
  • A valid passport, or another type of document which shows your nationality or identity
  • Bank statements showing at least £1270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before applying
  • Proof of your English language proficiency
  • Your tuberculosis test results must also be provided if you are from a country where you must take the test


How can you apply from outside the UK?


To apply for an Innovator Founder visa from outside the UK, you must apply online and have the above documents with you.


You must also prove your identity. The manner in which you can do this will depend on the country you are from and the type of passport that you have.


To get a biometric residence permit, you will either need to:

  • Have your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) taken at a visa application centre
  • Or, you can use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan your identity document by create or signing into the UK Visas and Immigration account

How long does a decision take?


After applying online, providing documents, and proving your identity, a decision will usually be given within 3 weeks. If it will take longer, then you will be contacted about the reason why.


You may be able to get a faster decision using the priority or the super priority service. Priority will provide a decision within five working days, while super priority will provide a decision by the end of the next working day. This will be extended to 2 working days after if your appointment or document submission is at the weekend or on a bank holiday. This will cost an extra £500 for priority and an extra £1000 for super priority respectively.


Want to switch to an Innovator Founder Visa?


Much of the above applies if you wish to switch to an Innovator Founder Visa from another type of visa. However, there are a number of visas you cannot switch from. These include:


  • Visit visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa
  • Immigration bail
  • Permission to stay outside the immigration rules, such as on compassionate grounds

When switching to an Innovator Founder Visa, you will usually get a decision within 8 weeks of your application date.


Looking to apply for an innovator founder visa? Contact us today and we will be happy to help as well as answer any additional questions.


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