UNITED KINGDOM

 

VISA SERVICES

Overview

You can apply for an Innovator Founder 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

This visa used to be called the Innovator visa.

Eligibility

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • new – you cannot join a business that is already trading
  • innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable, with potential for growth
  • scalable – you must give evidence of planning that includes creating jobs and growing into national and international markets

You’ll need to get an endorsing body to assess that your business idea meets the requirements.

Knowledge of English

You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English. You’ll usually need to prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

If you’re not eligible for an Innovator Founder visa

You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

How long you can stay

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’re 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 Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body.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.

If you want to stay longer in the UK

You can apply to extend your stay for another 3 years when your visa is due to expire. There’s no limit on the number of times you can extend.

You may be able to apply for settlement once you’ve been in the UK for 3 years.

How to apply

You must apply online.

How you apply depends on whether you’re:

Your partner and children can apply to join you or stay in the UK as your ‘dependents’ if they’re eligible.

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

If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

Fees

How much you pay for an application depends on where you apply from.

It costs £1,191 per person if you apply outside the UK.

It costs £1,486 per person if you apply to extend or switch your visa in the UK.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

If you’re applying to extend or switch in the UK

You’ll also need to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken – there’s no fee for this.

What you can and cannot do

With an Innovator Founder visa you can:

  • set up a business or several businesses
  • work for your business – this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership
  • do work outside your business, as long as it’s ‘skilled work’ – for example, a job on the Skilled Worker eligible occupations list or a job needing at least a level 3 qualification
  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
  • travel abroad and return to the UK
  • apply to settle permanently in the UK (also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) if you’ve lived in the UK for 3 years and meet the other eligibility requirements

You cannot:

  • 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 Founder visa.

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