What is a UK Innovator Founder Visa?
The UK Innovator visa is now known as the UK Innovator Founder Visa. Essentially, this is the new form of the historic entrepreneur UK visa, which had a 75% rejection rate.
Applying for a UK Innovator Founder visa may be a highly competitive affair. However, if you are able to meet all its requirements you may take a chance and apply.
When is the UK Innovator Founder Visa Right for You?
There are 4 primary requirements for your UK Innovator Founder visa to be successful:
- you want to set up and run an innovative business in the UK – it must be something that’s different from anything else on the market
- your business or business idea has been endorsed by an approved body, also known as an endorsing body
- you meet the other eligibility requirements
Requirements for your Business Idea
You must be able to show that your business idea is:
- new – you cannot join a business that is already trading
- innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
- viable, with potential for growth
- scalable – you must give evidence of planning that includes creating jobs and growing into national and international markets
The Role of the Endorsing Body
It is the role of the endorsing body to assess that your business idea meets the requirements.
At the moment, there are only four endorsing bodies authorised by the Home Office to assess your business idea. These are:
You will note that The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP) is a government programme run by the Department for Business and Trade for internationally mobile, tech-based entrepreneurs and helps them scale and internationalise their innovation rich companies from a UK global HQ. GEP only provide visa endorsements for founders that have already been invited to participate on their programme.
English Language Requirement
You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply, unless you did this in a previous successful visa application.
You must prove you can read, write, speak and understand English to a level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
You can prove your knowledge of English by:
- passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
- having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were under 18
- having a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English – if you studied abroad, you’ll need to apply for confirmation through Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) that your qualification is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
How long you can stay
You can stay for 3 years if you either:
- come to the UK on an Innovator Founder visa
- switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK
You’ll need to meet with your endorsing body after 12 months and 24 months to show you’re making progress with your business. Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
If you want to stay longer in the UK
You can apply to extend your stay for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There’s no limit on the number of times you can extend.
You may be able to apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for 3 years.
What you can and cannot do
With an Innovator Founder visa you can:
- set up a business or several businesses
- work for your business – this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership
- do work outside your business, as long as it’s ‘skilled work’ – for example, a job on the Skilled Worker eligible occupations list or a job needing at least a level 3 qualification
- bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
- travel abroad and return to the UK
- apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 3 years and meet the other eligibility requirements
- work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
- apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with an Innovator Founder visa.
What happens when Your UK Visa is rejected?
UK visa application is a detailed and demanding process and I encourage you not to leave this complex process to chance.
Working with a qualified professional may reduce the chances of your UK visa application and endorsement being rejected. It is important that you work with a duly qualified, authorised and experienced professional.
If you missed the step of working with a duly authorised professional or your UK visa application was rejected anyway, depending on the reasons why your application was rejected, you may still be eligible to apply again.
This time you will need to make sure that your application is well prepared and you address Home Office’s concerns.
The worst you can do is do nothing. Non-action will endorse Home Office’s decision and will leave a poor UK immigration record, which can cause hardship and impediments later.
Find Out Whether UK Innovator Founder is Right for You or You need to Pursue a Different Option
You want to discuss your requirements now, but you are not sure where to start or how to find the right UK immigration adviser for you and your family, schedule a phone call with me!
You will be first guided to a payment page when you choose “book a call” option. After making the payment, you will be able to choose the most convenient date and time for our Zoom meeting. You can report a payment issue here.
Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA
I have been working exclusively with UHNWI in Mayfair, London since January 2008. I built specialist knowledge and expertise required to serve ultra high net worth individuals investing, operating and relocating to the UK or Switzerland.
Within the industry, I am the single adviser who is able to traverse the different areas of expertise and bring a comprehensive approach across: global structuring, UK immigration, international taxation and FOREX to develop their global wealth strategy, while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.
Previous experience as one of the senior advisors for the government, made me a go-to person when delicate and uncomfortable scenarios involving heads of state need to be handled with care and preserve privacy.