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An overview of the New Innovator Founder Visa

27 April 2023

What is the New Innovator Founder Visa? 

On 13 April 2023 a new visa route was introduced, named the New Innovator Founder Visa, which consolidates and replaces both the Innovator Visa and Start Up Visas. In this article, we look at some of the key changes and other points that you should consider if applying for a visa under this new route.  

Smaller number of Endorsing Bodies  

One of the most significant changes will be to the “Endorsing Bodies”.  These are organisations approved and appointed by the Home Office to consider the business plans of potential applicants and if it is considered that their plan is innovative, viable and scalable, then they will be given a letter of endorsement which the Home Office requires to see in support of the visa application.  

Until the introduction of the New Innovator Founder Visa, there was a long and fluid list of Endorsing Bodies from which the Applicant could consider and select the most appropriate for obtaining endorsement.  However, under the new regime there will only be three Endorsing Bodies to choose from.  

Whilst this appears to give the Applicant less choice, it will hopefully make the step of selecting an Endorsing Body less overwhelming in an already complex process. 

The previous Endorsing Bodies will now be referred to as Legacy Endorsing Bodies and during the transition period to the new route, will still be able to continue endorsing applicants which they previously issued endorsement letters for but only for the same business idea used in a previous application.    

Reduction in contact points of review with Endorsing Bodies 

Another change relating to Endorsing Bodies is to reduce their required level of involvement, also referred to as “contact points”.  Previously, Endorsing Bodies were expected to have a number of contact points with the new business throughout the year.  This has been curtailed to just two contact points which gives new businesses more leeway to grow organically and at their own pace, rather than feeling the pressure of an artificial check point which may not mirror the reality of their specific market. 

Taking up secondary employment  

It used to be the case that the visa holder could only work for the business that they had established in the UK. Under the New Innovator Founder Visa, Innovators can take up secondary employment so long as it is at a certain skill level.  This change will be well received by Innovators who often need some form of other income in the early stages of establishing their business. 

Requirement for minimum investment  

One of the key requirements of the out-going Innovator Visa was that Applicants must show an investment of at least £50,000 in their new venture.  This has been scrapped as being a strict and inflexible requirement. Instead, a minimum investment will only be necessary if the actual business plan requires it, especially in light of what the Endorsing Bodies will be looking for.  The new approach shows practicality and acknowledges that not all new businesses need this cash injection to kick-start.    

Importance of business plans  

Interestingly, despite all the upcoming changes that have been announced, one key element that remains from the former system is that the Business Plan must show the new venture to be innovative, scalable and viable.   

The retention of this element shows how vital the content of the Business Plan is and how much focus the Home Office will pay to the detail, via the Endorsing Bodies and the Letter of Endorsement that they provide.   

The requirement in itself is unsurprising as a Business Plan is effectively the blueprint of the Innovator’s project and a pitch as to how they will be improving the UK economy and market. There are strict technical requirements for the Business Plan and a shortfall on any element may lead to rejection by the Endorsing Body. Without a Letter of Endorsement from an Endorsing Body, the application cannot progress. 

It is therefore essential that the Business Plan is given serious attention and perfected before submission. 

Applications for New Innovator Founder Visa  

As with all new changes announced by the Home Office, there will be a period of transition where the new approach and ethos will be tested before the parameters of the new visa route are fully understood. However, the Government has been welcoming and encouraging new ventures and innovation. Accordingly, so long as the idea is presented thoroughly and accurately, many should now be able to take advantage of this inviting opportunity.    

This article is provided by Burlingtons for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact Sarah Khawaja or write to us using the contact form below. 

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