Innovator Founder Visa

This series of articles will help understand the newly born Innovator Founder Visa route.

From the first article, you’ll find out about:

  • The rationale behind creating the Innovator Founder Visa
  • The difference between the old and the new route
  • The suitability and the eligibility requirements

The second article will cover:

  • The eligibility requirements

From the third article, you’ll find out:

  • The settlement rules
  • The duration of the grant
  • Conditions imposed on the Innovator Founder Visa holder’s stay in the UK

The fourth article will provide you with a list of:

  • Documents the Innovator Founder Visa applicants will need to submit with the application.

Article No5 will explain

  • how the endorsing bodies consider the Innovator Found applications

This is the first article in this series.


The Rationale Behind Creating the UK Innovator Founder UK Immigration Route

Innovator Founder Visa
Innovator Founder Visa

The Innovator Founder route was born on 13 April 2023. It replaced the old Innovator route, which replaced the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) UK immigration route.

The Innovator Founder route is for those wishing to establish a business in the UK. To succeed, the applicants will need to demonstrate that they have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea they have generated or to which they have significantly contributed.

An endorsing body will need to support their application.

You’ll also need to prove that you will have a key role in the day-to-day management and development of your business.

The Innovator Founder Route allows you to bring your partner and dependent children under 18 with you to the UK. You and your family can settle in the UK if you meet the Indefinite Leave to Remain requirements.


What is the Difference Between The Innovator Founder and the Innovator routes?

No £50,000 Minimum Investment Requirement

The new route removes the £50k minimum funds requirement that was applied to the Innovate route applicants. The UK government did so in an attempt to make more flexible provisions for those with a genuine proposal for an innovative business and sufficient funds to deliver it.

Secondary Employment is Allowed

The changes also relax existing restrictions on Innovator migrants engaging in employment outside the running of their business. This is provided that secondary employment is in skilled roles (i.e., at least skilled to RQF Level 3 (equivalent to A level)). You can set up one or more businesses as an innovator founder visa holder. In this case, the Endorsing bodies will not be monitoring these businesses.

No More Start-Up Route

The introduction of the Innovator Founder Route affected the Start-up route. The Start-up route is now closed to new initial applications except those supported by endorsements issued before 13 April 2023.

With the removal of the £50k minimum funds requirement for Innovator Founders, it is no longer necessary to retain a separate route for start-up entrepreneurs that do not have access to this level of funds.

Two Contact Points

The Innovator route applicants needed to meet with the Endorsing body representatives at least 3 times at checkpoints of 6, 12 and 24 months.

After 13 April 2023, they’ll need to have only two contact points.


The Requirements

As with the majority of the managed migration UK Immigration routes, the Innovator Founder applicants will need to meet three requirements:

  1. The Validity Requirements
  2. The Suitability Requirements
  3. The Eligibility Requirements.


The Validity Requirements

To meet the validity requirements, you need to comply with the procedural part of the application. In other words, you’ll need to:

  1. Complete the online application form. The type of the form will depend on where you are applying from. If you are an EEA national, you can use Innovator using the UK Immigration: ID Check app. If you are not an EEA national and are applying from outside the UK (i.e. making an entry clearance application), you’ll need to use the ‘Innovator visa’ form. If you are in the UK, the ‘Innovator permission to stay’ is the form to use.
  2. Pay the fee:
Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch (in the UK)
You £1,036 £1,292
Your partner and children £1,036 for each person £1,292 for each person


and the Immigration Health Surcharge (£624 per year for adults and £470 per year for dependent children).

  1. Provide your passport and supporting documents (please check the list of documents below)
  2. Provide biometrics (fingerprints, a scan and a photo of your face)
  3. A valid endorsement letter issued by the Endorsing body no more than 3 months before the date of the application.

Also, if you are applying from outside the UK and your country of residence is on the Appendix T list, you’ll need to submit your Tuberculosis Test certificate.


The Switching Rules

Innovator Founder Visa
Innovator Founder Visa

Switching is a legal process allowing those already in the UK to switch from one Immigration category to another.

You cannot switch to the Innovator Founder Visa if you are in the UK:

(a) as a Visitor; or

(b) as a Short-term Student; or

(c) as a Parent of a Child Student; or

(d) as a Seasonal Worker; or

(e) as a domestic worker in a private household; or

(f) outside the Immigration Rules.

If you are currently in the UK in one of the above UK Immigration categories, you’ll need to leave the UK and apply from your country of origin.


The Suitability Requirements

If you are outside the UK, when considering your application, the decision-maker will ensure you are not caught by any grounds for refusal in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.

If you are already in the UK, in addition to proving that you meet all the requirements of part 9, you’ll also need to have a valid leave to remain in the UK (not to be in breach of immigration laws), except that where paragraph 39E applies.

The UKVI will also refuse the Innovator Found visa application if the applicant is on immigration bail.


You can continue reading article two here.

Innovator Founder Visa