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innovator founder

Innovator founder

The innovator founder visa is for individuals who have an idea for a new business which they want to start in the UK. The business idea must be innovative, viable, and scalable. You will need an endorsement from an approved body before you can apply. With only 3 years required, this is one of the fastest routes to settlement in the UK.

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What you can do

  • Live and work in the UK for 3 years

  • Be self-employed

  • Undertake additional work in limited circumstances

  • Bring your dependants

  • Leave the UK and return without issue

  • Switch to a different visa

  • Apply to settle after 3 years.

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What you can't do

  • Stay in the UK if your endorsement is withdrawn

  • Receive public funds

  • Work as a professional sportsperson

  • Study, unless your course is not eligible for a student visa



Valid Passport

You must have a valid passport to apply.


You must apply to one of the UKVI-approved endorsing bodies which will evaluate your application against its own scoring metric and an official endorsement letter will be issued if the application is successful.

The following all serve as endorsing bodies capable of endorsing your business idea:

  • Envestors Limited

  • UK Endorsing Services

  • Innovator International

  • The Global Entrepreneurs Programme

English Language

You must prove your English language ability to at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This can be done by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) or, if you have an academic qualification taught in English, by applying to have your qualification verified by Ecctis for either £210 or £252.

English Language Exemption

Applicants who are nationals of any of the following countries do not need to provide their knowledge of English:

  • Antigua and Barbuda

  • Canada

  • New Zealand

  • Australia

  • Dominica

  • St Kitts and Nevis

  • The Bahamas

  • Grenada

  • St Lucia

  • Barbados

  • Guyana

  • St Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Belize

  • Jamaica

  • Trinidad and Tobago

  • The British Overseas Territories

  • Malta

  • USA


Unless you have already been in the UK for 12 months or longer, you will need to show you have at least £1,270 held in your account for the 28 days prior to making the application.


You may require a tuberculosis test depending on which country you are applying from. You could also be required to provide a criminal record certificate. 

Changes from old route

  • The old innovator and start-up visas were replaced by the innovator founder visa in April 2023.

  • The number of endorsing bodies was cut down to just four.

  • The previous endorsing bodies (known as 'legacy endorsing bodies') will continue their existing roles with applicants on the old innovator and start-up visas.

  • Legacy endorsing bodies were previously required to maintain contact with applicants at 6, 12 and 24 month intervals. This has been cut down to only two.

  • The previous requirement to show access to at least £50,000 in available investment funds is no longer required.

  • Previously, successful applicants were prohibited from working for any other business than their own. Now, they are permitted to undertake employment in addition to their own business or businesses - provided it is at least RQF Level 3 (UK A-level equivalent).

A practical 7 step guide for making the innovator founder application.

The current application fee for an innovator founder visa

is £1,191 for applications made from outside the UK and £1,486 for applications made within the UK. You will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is £1,035 per year.

Term & Fees

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You can stay in the UK for 3 years, after which you may be eligible to extend your innovator founder visa or apply for settlement.


ukvi processing time

The current processing time for the innovator founder visa is approximately 3 weeks for applications made from outside the UK or 8 weeks for applications from inside the UK. You may be able to get a faster decision by paying for an enhanced service.


Next Steps

If your application for an innovator founder visa is successful, you will receive a new biometric residence permit confirming the length and conditions of your permission to remain in the United Kingdom.

If your application for an innovator founder visa is refused, you will receive a refusal letter outlining the reasons. You may consider applying for an administrative review if you believe an incorrect decision has been made based on a casework error. Alternatively, a fresh application may be more appropriate.

Are you interested in making an application?

Use this form to fill in your information and one of our partners will get in touch to discuss your needs.

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