Innovator Founder Visa: An Overview
What is the UK Innovator Founder visa?
The Innovator Founder visa is designed for individuals who wish to establish themselves in self employment within the UK. Applicants need to show that they have the desire and ability to establish an innovative business within the UK.
How do you qualify?
To be eligible for an Innovator Founder visa applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Investment Funds - access to cash funds of at least £50k which will be invested into the UK company. Two applicants can come together as a team however each must bring at least £50k ie/ £100k in total. Funds can also be provided by a third party, however this must be evidenced carefully.
- Maintenance Funds – funds of at least £945 must have been maintained for a minimum period of 90 days before making the application.
- Knowledge of English Language – Innovator Founder applicants must demonstrate English Language of at least B2 on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), evidenced by taking an appropriate test, being a national of a majority English speaking country or holding a degree which was taught in English.
- Innovation, Viability & Scalability. In addition to the above, applicants must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs. They must have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business. There must be evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets. These aspects will be assessed by a range of government approved endorsing bodies who will issue a letter of endorsement to successful applicants. Applicants may be called for interview by Home Office case workers if there are any doubts regarding credibility.
How long is the Innovator Founder visa granted for?
Innovator Founder visas are initially granted for three years, with further extensions of three years available if required.
In order to qualify for the extension, applicants must be able to show that their business has made significant progress. This will be judged against their initial business plan.
The business must be fully registered, active and trading, and appear to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months. The applicant must demonstrate that they have played an active role in the day to day running of the business, and the endorsing body must be satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on continuing to develop business ventures.
If the original business does not satisfy the above, applicants may apply for an extension based on a fresh business idea. They must be able to meet all the requirements applicable to an initial application.
Can you include family members in the Innovator Founder visa?
Applicants can include partners and children aged under 18 on this visa, they will be granted the same length of time as the main applicant. These family members will be able to work or establish their own businesses in the UK.
Does this visa lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Innovator Founder holders will become eligible to apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) at any point after three years provided that they satisfy two of the following requirements:
- At least £50k has been invested in the UK business
- The number of customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is higher than the average number of customers for comparable UK businesses
- The business has engaged in significant R&D activity and has applied for Intellectual Property Protection in the UK
- The business has generated a minimum annul gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year
- The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year, of which at least £100,000 has been generated through exporting overseas
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full time jobs for resident workers which pay at least the National Minimum Wage
- The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full time jobs for resident workers which pay at least £25,000 per year
Applicants will also need to satisfy the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirement and ensure that UK absences are within permitted limits.
Family members will also usually be eligible for ILR after completing 5 years as a dependant.