The Innovator visa is a type of UK work visa that allows entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas to come to the UK to establish their businesses. You must demonstrate that you have the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to run a successful business in the UK.
If you need legal advice or help with your Innovator Founder visa application, our experienced immigration lawyer can provide you with the help you need.
Table of Contents
- What is an Innovator Founder visa?
- Requirements for Innovator Founder visa
- What documents are required for an Innovator Founder visa?
- Extension of Innovator Founder visa
- Switch to an Innovator Founder visa
- Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
- Your partner and children
- Visa application processing time
- How can our immigration lawyer help you?
What is an Innovator Founder visa?
The Innovator visa is a type of UK work visa that is designed for non-EEA/Swiss nationals who wish to start a new innovative business in the UK.
The Innovator visa is designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK and to attract talented individuals with innovative business ideas to start and grow their businesses in the country.
To be eligible for the Innovator visa, you must have a business idea that is innovative, viable, and scalable, and be endorsed by an approved endorsing body.
Requirements for Innovator Founder visa
The requirements for the Innovator Founder visa in the UK are as follows:
- Age: You must be 18 or over when you apply.
- Endorsement: You must be endorsed by an approved endorsing body. The endorsing body will assess your business idea, skills, experience, and knowledge to ensure that your business is innovative, viable, and scalable.
- English language: You must prove your knowledge of the English language by passing an approved English language test or having an academic qualification that was taught in English.
- Financial requirements: You must have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK. The amount you need will depend on your personal circumstances.
If you want to set up a new business, you'll need to prove to your endorsing body that you have enough funding and where it's from.
You must also meet all the other eligibility requirements depending on type of application and your personal circumstances. Please contact us for an initial assessment to determine your eligibility, and to discuss the options.
You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK. You will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for this visa.
English language requirement
When applying for an Innovator Founder visa, you will generally be required to meet the English language requirements as part of the application process.
In general, to meet the English language requirement, you must provide evidence that you:
- Have a degree taught in English that is equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree, master's degree, or PhD;
- Have passed a Home Office approved English language test at the required level (currently CEFR level B2 or above) with a recognized test provider; or
- Have obtained an academic qualification taught in English from an institution that is recognized by UK NARIC (the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom).
If you need to take an English language test, you can find a list of Home Office approved test providers on the UK government's website. You should ensure that you meet the required level of English language proficiency before taking the test, as failing the test can delay your application.
What documents are required for an Innovator Founder visa?
You must provide the following documents when you apply for an Innovator Founder visa:
- Your valid passport or travel document to confirm your identity.
- An 'endorsement letter' to show that an endorsing body has assessed your business or business idea.
- Evidence that you have enough to support yourself during your stay in the UK such as bank statements.
- Proof that you meet the English language requirement.
This is a general list of documents. Depending on type of application and your personal circumstances, you might also need to provide additional documents.
Please contact us for an initial assessment to determine your eligibility, and find out the required list of documents in support of your application.
Extension of Innovator Founder visa
If you are currently on an Innovator Founder visa in the UK and wish to extend your stay, you can apply for an extension before your current visa expires.
The visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 3 years, during which time you can work on establishing and growing your business. After the initial 3-year period, you may be able to apply for an extension.
There's no limit on the number of times you can extend.
Switch to an Innovator Founder visa
If you are already in the UK on a different type of visa and wish to switch to an Innovator Founder visa, you may be able to do so if you meet the eligibility requirements.
To switch to a Innovator Founder visa you must be in the UK and have either:
- won an eligible award
- proven that you are a leader or potential leader in one of the fields covered by the visa - this is also called getting an endorsement
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
If your application is successful, you will be granted an Innovator Founder visa which will allow you to live and work in the UK for up to three years. After this time, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK.
It's also important to note that an extension of your Innovator Founder visa may not automatically lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. If you wish to apply for ILR, you must meet the eligibility requirements for this visa category and apply separately.
Your partner and children
Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your 'dependants' if they’re eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours.
A dependent partner or child is any of the following:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they're currently in the UK as your dependant
You'll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.
Innovator Founder visa processing time
You'll usually get a decision on your Innovator Founder visa within 3 weeks if you're applying from outside the UK using standard service. It will take up to 8 weeks if you are applying from inside the UK.
You may be able to use priority service to get your visa faster depending on what country you're in.
How can our immigration lawyer help you?
As part of our immigration services for your immigration application, our expert immigration lawyer will:
- assess your eligibility for the relevant visa type by fully considering your circumstances;
- advise you on the required supporting documents to be submitted in support of your immigration application;
- assess all the documents to ensure that the documents you provide are as per the requirements of the Immigration Rules;
- advise you on strengths and potential weaknesses in your visa application and how you can overcome such weaknesses if any;
- complete the online immigration draft application form to share it with you for cross-checking;
- submit your application online and schedule your biometrics appointments with the relevant commercial partner of the UKVI;
- prepare a detailed cover letter in support of the immigration application explaining in detail how you are meeting all the requirements of the Immigration Rules so that you have the maximum chances of succeeding in your visa application;
- upload all the supporting documents online in support of the immigration application in their correct format and order;
- dealing and responding to any caseworker enquiries or correspondence from the Home Office caseworker for any further documents or information concerning your pending immigration application;
- do all the follow-up work on your immigration application until a decision is received from the Home Office UKVI.