Innovator Founder Visa

Who is this visa for?

This route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK based on an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea they have generated, or to which they have significantly contributed. The business must be something that is completely different to anything else on the UK market, and the applicant must have a key role in the day-to-day management, and development of the business.

What are the basic eligibility requirements?

Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea endorsed by an approved body, the list of which can be found here. The endorsing bodies all charge a fee of £1,000.00 to review your business plan, and give you a decision as to whether or not the business qualifies for endorsement.

If you are relying on endorsement under the new business criteria, the endorsement letter must confirm both of the following:

(a) The applicant’s business venture meets all of the requirements in the table below:



Viability Scalability
The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage. The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience  and market awareness to successfully run the business. There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.


(b) you have either generated, or made a significant contribution to the ideas in your business plan; you will have a day-to-day role in carrying out the business plan; and you are either the sole founder or an instrumental member of the founding team.

If you want to set up a new business

You’ll need to prove to your endorsing body that you have enough funding to set up the business, and provide proof as to where the funding is from.

You do not need any investment funds if either:

  • your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa
  • you’ve changed your business and already agreed it with your endorsing body

You must also:

  • Meet the English language requirement by passing an approved English language test with at least a CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening or you must have a degree or academic qualification that was taught or researched in English and your qualification is recognised by Ecctis as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or higher. You’ll need to send a certificate from Ecctis confirming this when you apply. You will not need to meet these requirements if you are a national of a majority English speaking country as identified by UKVI.
  • Provide your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK. You need to have had at least £1,270.00 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply. You cannot use either of the following to support yourself:
    • money from your investment funds
    • money earned while working in the UK illegally

How long can I stay in the UK?

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 ar 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.

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Can dependants join me on this route?

Family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa.
A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife, or partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Your partner and children must have a certain amount of money available to support themselves while they’re in the UK.
You – or your partner or child – will need:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

How much does it cost?

  • Application for endorsement from an endorsing body – £1,000.00 (VAT may apply)
  • Application fee if you are applying from outside of the UK – £1,191.00 per person
  • Application fee if you are applying from within the UK – £1,486.00 per person
  • Immigration Health Surcharge – £1,035.00 per annum for applicants 18 years of age and over, and £776.00 per annum for applicants under the age of 18.

How long does it take?

You can only apply for initial entry clearance from your country of residency, and standard processing time is 3-weeks as at today’s date for an Innovator Founder visa.

When should I apply?

You must apply for the visa within 3-months of being endorsed by an endorsing body. If you do not apply within this timeframe, you will need to re-apply for endorsement.

What you can and cannot do:

With an Innovator Founder visa you can:

You cannot:

  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension

If you require assistance with applying for the Innovator Founder visa, please contact us for a quote.

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Get in Touch

With years of experience working in UK immigration and British nationality law, our advisors can help you understand the process and take the right steps to obtain your visa. Get in touch today.