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    Innovator Founder Visa

    Comprehensive guide to the new Innovator Founder visa route

    The UK government has recently announced the launch of a new Innovator Founder visa route, which will replace the existing Innovator visa and Start-Up visa schemes. The new scheme is set to commence from 13 April 2023, and as a lawyer, it is essential to keep up-to-date with these changes to assist your clients. In this article, we will discuss the new Innovator Founder visa route and its features, including changes to the eligibility criteria, endorsing bodies, investment requirements, contact points, and secondary employment rules.

    Changes to the endorsing bodies

    Under the new Innovator Founder visa route, the Home Office has approved only three endorsing bodies. New applicants will need to seek an endorsement with one of these three bodies to be eligible for the visa. The previous endorsing bodies (known as ‘Legacy Endorsing Bodies’) will continue to endorse applicants who entered the Innovator visa scheme before 13 April 2023. However, they will only endorse applicants for the same business idea used in a previous application.

    Eligibility criteria

    Under the Innovator Founder route, the requirement to show that the business proposal is innovative, viable, and scalable is still a critical feature:

    • Innovation. Your idea must be original and fresh – it’s extremely significant to fulfill customers’ needs and create a real competitive advantage. It plays a significant role.
    • Viability. To do business, one needs to show a lot of experience, high skills, market awareness, and deep knowledge in the sphere.
    • Scalability. Potential growth plus your structured planning are incredibly vital for doing business; it may seem profitable for job creation being the perspective to become a national or even international brand.

    However, the new route does offer some welcome changes. Unlike the previous scheme, the new route does not require a minimum investment of £50,000. This change offers greater flexibility for entrepreneurs, especially those who do not require a significant capital investment to start their business. However, if your business idea requires significant cash injection, then the new endorsing bodies may still want you to demonstrate that you have the necessary funds available to start your business in the UK, usually for at least the next 12 months.

    Contact points

    The previous endorsing bodies were required to stay in contact with Innovator applicants at 6, 12, and 24-month checkpoints. The new rules now only require a minimum of two contact points, providing greater flexibility as to when new applicants ought to meet with their endorsing body. This change helps ease the pressure for some entrepreneur innovators to develop their business under less rigid timescales.

    Secondary employment

    Previously, Innovators could only work for the business they established in the UK. However, under the new scheme, Innovator Founders can take up secondary employment provided that the role is at a skill level not less than RQF level 3, equivalent to A-levels or high school leavers. This change reflects the reality for genuine entrepreneurs who are multifaceted, and it also helps those to earn and maintain their life in the UK until their business is at a stage where the applicant no longer requires earning from their secondary employment.

    Using an endorsement letter issued by a legacy endorsing body

    If you are applying on the basis of a new business, you can use the endorsement letter issued by the Legacy Endorsing body if the letter is dated before 13 April 2023. Alternatively, if the Legacy Endorsing body previously endorsed you as a Start-up applicant, then the same Legacy Endorsing body can endorse you to apply for the Innovator Founder route.

    If you are applying under the same business category, you can only rely on the endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing body if you previously obtained your first endorsement letter with that same Legacy Endorsing body before 13 April 2023 and subsequently applied on the Innovator Founder visa route post-13 April 2023.

    The new Innovator Founder visa route offers some exciting changes to the previous Innovator visa scheme, which should make it easier for entrepreneurs to establish their business in the UK. With the scrapping of the £50,000 minimum investment requirement, applicants will have greater flexibility to invest what is necessary to kick start their business, while the minimum two contact points will provide more flexibility for applicants to meet with their Endorsing body at a time that suits their business development. Additionally, the ability for Innovator Founders to take up secondary employment will enable them to earn a living while their business is at an early stage, which is a welcome change.

    It is important for new applicants to seek endorsement with one of the three new Endorsing Bodies approved for the Innovator Founder route, and existing Innovator visa applicants will need to obtain endorsement from a Legacy Endorsing body for the same business idea used in a previous application. Applicants should also ensure that they meet the requirements to show that their business proposal is innovative, viable and scalable.

    Sterling Law’s Innovator Visa business plan services

    At Sterling Law, we are proud to announce that we are now offering comprehensive business plan services for the Innovator Visa.

    Why choose Sterling Law for your Innovator Visa Business Plan?

    • Proven Track Record: We have successfully obtained endorsement for 95% of the business plans we have prepared for the Innovator Visa.
    • Extensive Experience: With 5 years of experience specifically in endorsing business plans for the Innovator Visa and a total of 10 years in business plan writing, taking into account our previous work with the Tier 1 Entrepreneur programme, we bring a wealth of knowledge to the table.
    • Compliance with Home Office Guidance: We strictly adhere to the Home Office guidance for endorsing bodies when crafting your business plan, ensuring that it meets all the necessary requirements.
    • Understanding the Scoring System: We are well-versed in the endorsing bodies’ scoring system, enabling us to develop a business plan that maximizes your chances of a successful application.
    • Three-Step Process: Our approach consists of three stages. First, an experienced business analyst prepares your business plan. Next, it undergoes a thorough check using AI tools. Finally, your Immigration Lawyer, who has extensive experience in business immigration, reviews and approves the plan, ensuring its compliance with the Home Office requirements and regulations.

    Flexible payment options:

    We offer two payment options for our business plan services. You can either pay a fee of £5,000 plus VAT upfront, or choose to pay £4,000 plus VAT initially and an additional £2,000 if your endorsement is successfully obtained.

    Contact us today to discuss your Innovator Visa Business Plan needs. Our team is ready to assist you in achieving a successful application.

    Our firm has extensive experience in dealing with that kind of application and we are well-versed in the process, requirements, and standards involved. It would be our pleasure to assist you in navigating this process in a timely and efficient manner.

    We kindly suggest that you take advantage of our expertise and submit your application through the endorsement as soon as possible.

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