New Innovator Founder Visa
The new Innovator Founder visa has been introduced, replacing the Innovator and Start-up visas – is it an option for you?
Back in March 2019, the Home Office introduced the Innovator visa. This visa was intended for individuals seeking to establish a new business in the UK, to which they would contribute significant funding. When the Tier 1 Investor visa was suddenly scrapped on 17 February 2022, it was hoped that the Innovator route would fill the void for a high net-worth migrants looking to invest in the UK economy.
However, the Innovator route has not been a success. Only 299 Innovator visas were granted in 2022. The similar Start-up visa, designed for individuals establishing businesses in the UK for the first time, has also had an underwhelming take-up, with only 377 Start-up visas being granted in 2022.
From 13 April 2023, both routes have been replaced by the new Innovator Founder route. This new route aims to offer increased flexibility when compared to the old Innovator route, allowing those with genuine proposals for innovative businesses to enter the UK and establish their business with greater ease.
The Innovator visa’s “minimum funds” requirement of £50,000 has been scrapped entirely. Additionally, Innovator Founder visa holders will be permitted to engage in employment outside of running their business, provided that this alternative employment is in work skilled to at least A-level.
To qualify for the Innovator Founder visa, you must have an innovative business idea, which is different from anything else in the UK market. Your business or business idea must also have been endorsed by an approved “endorsing body” – Envestors Limited, UK Endorsement Services, Innovator International, or The Global Entrepreneurs Programme.
There are also various other eligibility requirements – you must meet the English language requirements, whether because you are a national of an English-speaking country (as specified by the Home Office), because you have a degree-level academic qualification taught in English, or by passing a Secure English Language Test from an approved provider to CEFR level B2 in speaking, reading, writing and listening.
You must also be at least 18 years old, and be able to prove that you have sufficient personal savings to support yourself while you are in the UK.
Migrants with an Innovator Founder visa will be able to apply for settlement, also known as indefinite leave to remain, after spending just three years continuously resident in the UK on the route.
If you are interested in applying for an Innovator Founder visa, or would like immigration law advice on your options for a visa, please get in touch at [email protected]