The UK government has recently announced a new Innovator Founder visa route, which will come into effect on April 13, 2023. The new route will replace the previous Innovator visa scheme and offer some welcome changes to entrepreneurs looking to set up their businesses in the UK.
One of the most significant changes is the removal of the £50,000 minimum investment requirement.
This offers greater flexibility for entrepreneurs who do not need a large amount of capital to kick start their businesses. However, if your business idea requires significant cash injection, the new Endorsing Bodies still require you to demonstrate that you have the necessary funds available.
There is also a minimum of two contact points required with Endorsing bodies, which offers more flexibility than the previous set 6, 12, and 24-month checkpoints. Different industries and businesses will have different timelines for their development, so moving away from set checkpoints will help ease the pressure for some entrepreneur innovators to develop their business under less rigid timescales.
If you are applying on the basis of a new business, you can use an endorsement letter issued by a Legacy Endorsing body if the letter is dated before 13 April 2023 while it is still valid (typically, for 3 months). Alternatively, if a 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.
Another welcome change is the allowance for secondary employment. Innovator Founders can now take up secondary employment provided that the role is at a skill level not less than RQF level 3, which is equivalent to A-levels or high school leavers.
This reflects the reality for genuine entrepreneurs who are multifaceted and may need to earn and maintain their life in the UK until their business is at a stage where they no longer require earning from their secondary employment.
Overall, the new Innovator Founder visa route offers some welcome changes and flexibility for entrepreneurs looking to set up their businesses in the UK. However, it is essential to check the requirements carefully before applying. Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs that will provide a checklist for Innovator Founder applicants.
Also a new change is that endorsing body fees, which previously ranged between £12,000 to £60,000 and even more during the 3-year visa duration, are not under a much cheaper fee structure. The initial consideration is £1,000, and during the visa the applicant is expected to pay between £1,000 and £2,000 depending if they wish to apply for ILR (settlement) afterwards.
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