If you thinking of making an application under the new Innovator Founder route, there are several important documents you need to have in place before you can do so. This guide will provide an overview of the entire process, from start to finish.
Steps to Secure an Innovator Founder Visa :
Step 1 - Endorsement
Applicants on this new route must provide an innovative, viable and scalable business plan for a new business idea. However, the previous requirement to show access to at least £50,000 available investment for the business is no longer needed. This should not be seen as removing any need for available funds as the viability of an applicant’s business plan will be dependent on a sensible and sustained financial investment, as deemed appropriate by an endorsing body.
Once the business plan is ready, applicants should identify and contact an appropriate Endorsing Body approved by UKVI. The organisations below can issue endorsement letters:
UK Endorsing Services
The Global Entrepreneurs Programme
The Endorsing Body will request some background information about the business and an assessment fee (generally in the region of £1,000) will be payable. As part of the package provided, each organisation will offer its own tailored support service to make the process as straightforward as possible. Applicants will be required to upload supporting documents, usually including a CV, a summary of their business idea, financial projections, a detailed business plan. The Endorsing Body will then evaluate the application against its own scoring metric and an official endorsement letter will be issued if the application is successful.
The endorsement letter will only be valid for 3 months - applicants should ensure they are aware of the expiry date and take steps to secure the remainder of the documents for the Innovator Founder application within this time.
Step 2 - Financial Documents
In addition the the financial projections provided at Step 1 (Endorsement), applicants must also show personal funds to support themselves. If the applicant has not been living in the UK for at least 12 months, they must show access to £1,270 held in their account for the 28 days prior to making the application. You can find more information about the financial requirement for Innovator Founder visas here.
Step 3 - English Language
Applicants on the Innovator Founder route must satisfy the English language requirement. This can normally be met by showing English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of at least level B2 (e.g., IELTS or Pearsons). Applicants should be aware that they can only rely on an English language test taken in the 2 years before the date of application. Alternatively, applicants will automatically meet the language requirement if they have an academic qualification at undergraduate, postgraduate or doctorate level which was obtained at a college or university of a majority-English-speaking country.
Step 4 - Tuberculosis Test
Applicants from one of the listed countries must, if applying from outside the UK, present a valid medical certificate issued by a UKVI-approved medical practitioner confirming that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that such tuberculosis is not present in the applicant.
Applicants should be aware of the expiry date on the certificate. This will normally have a validity period of 6 months.
Step 5 - Making the Application
Once steps 1-4 have been completed, applicants can proceed with the Innovator Founder visa application form. We would strongly that you seek professional guidance at this stage to ensure your application will stand a strong chance of succeeding. Our immigration advisers are highly experienced and will look over your documents before advising whether you should proceed. We will also bring everything together in a comprehensive and concise covering letter to clearly show UKVI your suitability for this visa.
Step 6 - Choose the Priority or Super Priority Service
Once the application is ready to submit, applicants may (depending on eligibility/availability) have the option to pay for a Priority or Super Priority service. The Priority service costs £500 in addition to the application fee, and will result in a decision within 5 working days. The Super Priority service costs £800 in addition to the application fee, and will result in a decision by the end of the next working day.
Applicants should be aware that the decision making time starts from the date that they attend their biometric appointment at the visa application centre. Faster appointments tend to be available for a fee, with some centres offering various premium services.
If the option for a faster decision is not available, applicants should normally expect an outcome to their application within 3 weeks.
Step 7 - Collecting your BRP
Once the application has been granted, applicants will receive their passport with a short-term visa vignette, permitting entry to the UK within 3 months. Upon entering the UK, they should collect their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from the specified address within 10 days. The BRP will show your permission to be in the UK as an Innovator, which will usually be for a period of 3 years.
These are the most important steps to secure an Innovator Founder Visa.