Innovator Founder Visa

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa has for some while been closed to new entrants and the Innovator Founder Visa is now the main visa route for those who want to set up and run a business in the UK. Applications are possible from outside the UK and, in some cases, from within the UK by those who already hold a visa of some kind.

The starting point is that the applicant must have a good business plan, one that is well-researched, realistic, and indicates good prospects for success. The business plan must be assessed and endorsed by a private endorsing body – not by the Home Office. The Home Office publishes a list of approved endorsing bodies.

If the business plan is successfully endorsed, then the applicant can submit their Innovator Founder visa application to the Home Office/UKVI. They must show that they can make a sufficient financial investment into the business, depending on the nature of the business, and they must also intend to be involved in the day-to-day running of the business. There is also an English language requirement.

If the application is successful leave is granted for three years. During that period, the endorsing body will assess the business every 12 months to ascertain whether it is doing sufficiently well as per the business plan and meeting all the relevant requirements. The endorsing body has the power to withdraw the endorsement if they have serious concerns about the business, in which case the visa is likely to be revoked.

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    The rules allow the applicant to create and run more than one business, but in which case each business must be endorsed. 

    The applicant can apply to extend their leave after three years but again the business will have to be re-assessed by the endorsing body. There is no limit on the number of extensions.

    It is potentially possible to apply for settlement after three years, if the business has made very significant achievements, for example by having a sufficiently large amount of funds invested into it, by having a sufficiently strong growth in the number of customers, by creating a sufficiently large number of jobs, or by earning a sufficiently large amount of turnover.

    Again, the business needs to be assessed by the endorsing body, but if the application is successful and the main applicant and any family members granted settlement, the main applicant will no longer be bound by the Innovator Founder rules.

    Innovator Founder Visa


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