Whether you are an experienced businessperson or looking to start your first business in the UK, the Innovator Founder Visa offers a unique opportunity for individuals to start a new business in one of the world’s largest economies – the United Kingdom. The Innovator Founder Visa leads to settlement, and this is particularly important when you are building a new business in a foreign country and investing hundreds of thousands of pounds to grow your business.

In this blog post, we answer your questions about the Innovator Founder Visa.

How do I apply for the Innovator Founder Visa?

There are two stages to the Innovator Founder route: the first is the endorsement stage and the second is the visa application stage.

You will need to receive an endorsement from a Home Office authorised endorsing body before you can make a visa application to the Home Office.

Who are the authorised endorsing bodies?

The authorised endorsing bodies are organisations that have been designated by the Home Office to assess the suitability of your application for the Innovator Founder Visa. Endorsing bodies are business experts and will assess whether your business idea is Innovative, Viable and Scalable.

What do I need to prepare before I apply to an authorised endorsing body?

Before you make an application to an endorsing body to assess your business venture, you will need to prepare a detailed business plan. The business plan will need to include a market analysis of how your business plan can meet new or existing market needs and or creates a competitive advantage. The business plan must be both realistic and achievable based on your available resources, skills and experience. Finally, the business plan will need to have a clear structured plan with potential job creation, and growth in both the national and international markets.

What document do I need to submit for endorsement?

In addition to a detailed and well-researched business plan, the endorsing body will expect to see an up-to-date CV with your relevant experience and knowledge to successfully establish a new business in the UK. You will be required to submit a financial plan or evidence of how you will fund your business.

How do I apply for endorsement?

You will need to submit an application for your business idea to be assessed for endorsement directly to the endorsing body by applying through their website. The application process will involve providing your details, uploading the required supporting documents and paying for the endorsement application itself.

What is the Innovator Founder endorsement application fee?

The Innovator Founder endorsement application fee is £1,000, plus VAT if applicable.

What happens after you submit your application for endorsement?

Your application will be reviewed, and this can take 3 to 4 weeks. The endorsing body will invite you for an interview if the business plan and supporting documents review are successful. During the interview, the endorsing body will discuss your business plan in more detail. Once the interview is concluded, and the interview corroborates the business plan, the endorsing body may issue an endorsement.

What can I do if my application for endorsement is not successful?

If your application is not successful, the endorsing body will normally provide you with a detailed response identifying the key areas of weakness in your business plan. You will not receive a refund for the endorsement application.

Once you have revised and resolved the issues raised in your business proposition you can make a second paid application to the same endorsing body or an alternative endorsing body.

What do I need to do after I receive the endorsement letter?

The endorsement letter is valid for 3 months and you will need to submit your application for the Innovator Founder Visa before the expiry of the 3-month period from the date the letter was issued.

How do I apply for the Innovator Founder Visa?

The application is an online application that can be found here.

I am currently in the UK, can I switch to the Innovator Founder Visa?

You cannot switch to the Innovator Founder Visa if you have any one of the following:

  • a visit visa;
  • a short-term student visa;
  • a Parent of a Child’s Student visa;
  • a seasonal worker visa;
  • a domestic worker in a private household visa;
  • immigration bail; or
  • permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds.

What are the requirements for the Innovator Founder Visa?

You must be at least 18 years old and have an endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body. You must also be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2.

If you are outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months, you need to have at least £1,270 to support yourself in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply for the Innovator Founder Visa.

What happens after I submit my application for the Innovator Founder Visa?

The processing time for the Innovator Founder Visa is 3 weeks if you are outside the UK and 8 weeks if you are inside the UK. A Home Office caseworker will assess whether your application meets the suitability, validity and eligibility requirements. If your application is successful, you will receive leave to enter or remain under the Innovator Founder route for 3 years.

Can my partner and children apply as my dependents?

Your partner and children can also apply to join you or stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they are eligible. You will need to prove your relationship with your dependant partner or child and you must provide evidence of money available to support yourself and your dependents while they are in the UK.

If the Home Office refuse my application for the Innovator Founder Visa, can I appeal the decision?

If an application for the Innovator Founder Visa is refused, you cannot appeal against the decision. However, if you think the Home Office has made an error in considering your application, you can apply for an administrative review. You can read our blog post about the administrative review process here.

How soon can I apply for settlement in the UK?

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) on the Innovator Founder route after 3 years provided you meet the requirements for settlement.

How Saracens Solicitors can help you

We have worked with entrepreneurs from around the world who have successfully entered the UK and established UK businesses. Our immigration experts understand the specific requirements to successfully obtain endorsement and apply for the Innovator Founder Visa. Please call our solicitors on +44(0)20 3588 3500.