The UK’s new Innovator Founder route is here

3 mins

Posted on 17 Apr 2023

The UK’s new Innovator Founder route is here

The UK’s new Innovator Founder route 

The new Innovator Founder route opened on 13 April 2023 for those seeking to establish an innovative business in the UK, replacing the previous separate Innovator and Start-up categories.

What are the criteria for the Innovator Founder route?

The Innovator Founder route is now for endorsed applicants with a new, innovative, viable and scalable business venture for the UK. Similar to the previous criteria for the Start-up and Innovator categories, applicants will need to be endorsed by a Home Office approved body and will be required to provide an original business plan that meets new or existing market needs or creates a competitive advantage in the UK. The Home Office also requires applicants to meet with their endorsing body after 12 and 24 months to show they are making progress with their business. Applicants must also meet the mandatory English language requirement at Level B2 and the financial requirement.

Significantly, the new route removes the previous £50,000 minimum funds requirement for applicants and relaxes the restriction on engaging in other employment outside the running of the innovative business. The changes aim to streamline the previous two routes and make the criteria under the former Innovator route more flexible.

Who are the endorsing bodies?

Historically, there were a number of different endorsing bodies that applicants could work with for endorsement. Applicants applying for the new Innovator Founder visa will require an endorsement from one of the Endorsing Bodies approved for the Innovator Founder route:

  • Envestors Limited
  • UK Endorsement Services
  • Innovator International; or
  • The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP) – which only provides visa endorsements for founders invited to participate on its programme

Applicants who previously held permission under the Innovator or Start-up routes, will, in certain circumstances, be able to rely on endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing Body.

How long will permission last?

Applicants will be granted permission under the Innovator Founder route for a maximum period of three years, which can be extended in the future. The applicant’s partner and dependent children can apply on this route. Notably settlement will also be possible under this new route after spending three years continuously resident in the UK.

Can you still apply under the previous Innovator and Start-up routes?

The Innovator and Start-up routes are now closed to new applicants, although new applications under the Start-up route will continue to be considered until 13 July 2023, if supported by a valid endorsement issued before 13 April 2023.

Applicants should be aware of the new requirements should they wish to apply for a visa under the Innovator Founder route. Our Immigration team offers advice and assistance on the full range of immigration categories. For further information on how we can support you, please contact our experts below.

Malini Skandachanmugarasan

Malini has specialised in immigration law for well over a decade and is one of the UK's leading immigration experts.

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The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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