The Eligibility Requirements for the Innovator Founder Visa
This series of articles is dedicated to explaining 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 second article in this series.
Twelve Elements of the Eligibility Requirements
The Eligibility requirements for the Innovator Founder Visa consist of the following twelve elements:
- Entry requirements
- Genuine Innovator Founder requirement
- Points requirement
- General Requirements for an Endorsement
- Legacy Endorsement Requirements
- New Business: Business Plan Requirement
- New Business: the Innovative, Viable and Scalable Business Requirements
- Same Business: Business Previously Assessed by an Endorsing Body Requirement
- Same Business: Business is Active, Trading and Sustainable Requirement
- Same Business: Day-to-day Management Requirement
- English Language Requirement
- Financial requirement
1. Entry Requirements
If you are outside the UK, you’ll need to make your entry clearance application (visa application outside the UK) even if your country is not on the Appendix Visa National list.
2. Genuine Innovator Founder Requirement
Usually, the UKVI does not need to carry out a genuineness assessment for Innovator Founder applications. This obligation lies with an endorsing body that has to assess the applicant’s ability to meet the element of the eligibility requirement by analysing their business plan.
Caseworkers will not duplicate that assessment unless they have reasons to believe that there are specific grounds to doubt a migrant’s genuineness. This usually happens when the Home Office has information that would not otherwise have been considered by an endorsing body when it has assessed a migrant’s suitability for endorsement.
3. Points requirement
The Innovator Founder Visa is a points-based system application. Therefore, all applicants will need to score 70 points to succeed in the application.
The UKVI will allocate the points based on the following table:
|Endorsement||New or same business||Requirement||Points|
|Innovator Founder||New Business||Business plan||30|
|New Business||Business venture is innovative, viable and scalable.||20|
|Innovator Founder||Same Business||Applicant’s previous permission was in the Innovator Founder, Innovator, Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and they are pursuing a business assessed by a Home Office approved endorsing body either for the previous endorsement or at a contact point.||10|
|Innovator Founder||Same Business||Business is active, trading and sustainable and demonstrates significant achievements against the business plan||20|
|Innovator Founder||Same Business||Applicant is active in day-to-day management and development of business||20|
|All||Mandatory for all applicants||English Language requirement at level B2||10|
|All||Mandatory for all applicants||Financial requirement||10|
|Total number of points required||70|
4. General Requirements for an Endorsement
All Innovator Founder applicants will need to support their applications by an endorsement letter, which is the key document to a successful application.
This letter should have the following details:
(a) the name of the Endorsing Body or Legacy Endorsing Body; and
(b) their endorsement reference number; and
(c) the date of issue, which cannot be earlier than 3 months before the date of application; and
(d) the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport number; and
(e) the name and contact details (telephone number, email and workplace address) of an individual at the Endorsing Body or Legacy Endorsing Body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested.
This letter should also confirm that:
(a) the applicant is considered a fit and proper person to receive endorsement under the rules and guidance of the Innovator Founder route; and
(b) the endorsing body has no concerns over the legitimacy of sources of funds or modes of transfer of funds invested by the applicant into their endorsed business; and
(c) the endorsing body has identified no reason to believe that the applicant or their endorsed business may be the beneficiary of illicit or otherwise unsatisfactorily explained wealth.
5. Legacy Endorsement Requirements
The Home Office will only accept a letter of endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing Body under the new business criteria if:
(a) the Legacy Endorsing Body issued the endorsement letter before 13 April 2023 for use in the Innovator route; or
(b) the applicant previously had permission under the Start-up route, and the Endorsing Body for that previous permission is the same as the Legacy Endorsing Body supporting the current application.
If you are applying under the same business criteria, the UKVI will only accept a letter of endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing if:
(a) the applicant has or, in the 12 months immediately before the date of application, had permission as an Innovator Founder; and
(b) the Legacy Endorsing Body supporting the current application is the same as the Endorsing Body for that previous permission.
6. New Business: Business Plan Requirement
Your business plan is the second key document that is crucial to the success of your Innovator Found Visa application.
Therefore, you need to:
(a) have a business plan and have either generated or made a significant contribution to the ideas in that business plan; and
(b) demonstrate that you will have a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan; and
(c) confirm that you will have at least two Contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals during their period of permission; and
(d) be either the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team.
7. New Business: The Innovative, Viable and Scalable Business Requirements
Your business’s innovativity, viability and scalability go to the heart of the Innovator Founder Application. Therefore, you should consider submitting the documents confirming that you meet the definition of these concepts:
|Innovativity||You have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
This plant is realistic and achievable based on your available resources.
|Viability||You either have or are actively developing the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to run the business successfully.
|Scalability||You have evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
8. Same Business: Business Previously Assessed by an Endorsing Body Requirement
If you are already in the UK, you will meet this requirement if you have provided evidence confirming that you have or have last had permission as an Innovator Founder. Also, you need to demonstrate that you have attended at least 2 Contact point meetings with their Endorsing Body at regular intervals during their period of permission or similar regular checkpoint assessments with their Legacy Endorsing Body. Additionally, you need to confirm that you intend to have at least two Contact point meetings with the endorsing body at regular intervals if the Home Office grant your Innovator Founder Visa application.
9. Same Business: Business is Active, Trading and Sustainable Requirement
You’ll need to show that you have made significant progress against your business plan to meet this requirement.
Also, you will have to provide a Companies’ House document confirming the registration of your business and you being listed there as a director or member of that business.
10. Same Business: Day-to-day Management Requirement
You must be involved in the day-to-day management and development of your business. However, as stated in the previous article, you can have secondary employment. However, that is provided it is in skilled roles (i.e., at least skilled to RQF Level 3 (an equivalent of A level)).
11. English Language Requirement
Unless you are from a majority English-speaking country, under 18 or over 65, you will need to show English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of at least level B2.
You can also meet this requirement if you have a UK Bachelor Degree or above. Alternatively, if your Bachelor’s Degree course was taught or researched in English language. In this case, in addition to providing your Degree certificate, you’ll need to get a compatibility statement from Ecctis confirming that your degree is the UK Bachelor Degree equivalent.
12. The Financial Requirement
If you are applying for entry clearance, or for permission to stay and has been in the UK for less than 12 months at the date of application, you need to have funds of at least £1,270. The amount will have to be in your bank account for at least 28 days.