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Introduction of the Innovator Founder Visa

Nov 14, 2023

The Innovator Founder visa replaced the Innovator and Start Up routes on 13th April 2023.

The Innovator Founder route maintains the requirements for individuals to demonstrate an “innovative, viable and scalable” business idea, which needs to be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body.

However, this route removes the £50,000 minimum funds requirement that is currently in place for those coming to the UK, this will provide flexibility to access the appropriate level of funds to carry out their ideas.

Another positive difference is that the Innovator Founder route allows visa holders to take up secondary employment outside the running of the business providing it is deemed to be a ‘skilled role’, however, the Innovator Founder must still be involved in the day-to-day management of the company.

You can apply for an Innovator visa if:

  • 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

How long you can stay

You can stay for 3 years if you either:

  • come to the UK on an Innovator visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK

How long it takes

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.

You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Getting a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:

  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK

You cannot:

  • do any work outside your business, for example work where you’re employed by another business
  • 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 visa.

How much does the Innovator Founder Visa Cost?

The innovator founder visa application costs depend on where you are applying from. Main applicants applying from overseas must pay £1,036, or the cost is £1,292 if applying from within the UK to switch or extend status.

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