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New Innovator Founder route

In 2019 the Start-Up and Innovator visa schemes were created for those who wanted to set up new businesses in the UK. These two routes were similar but with some differences: both required endorsement from a Home Office-approved endorsing body, but the Innovator route required an investment into the business of £50,000, whereas the Start-Up route did not require a specific investment figure, and the Innovator route provided a way to settlement whereas the Start-Up route did not. 

The general theme was that the Innovator scheme was for more experienced entrepreneurs and the Start-Up scheme – as the suggests – was for beginners.

But neither of these routes has been very successful and the take-up has been low. Evidently the Home Office now seeks to improve this situation by merging the two routes together and creating the “Innovator Founder” visa, which takes elements from both. This new visa route is expected to come live on 13 April 2023, and it will eventually replace the previous two schemes. 

The Home Office has tried to make the new visa more attractive to applicants than the old ones. There is no £50,000 investment requirement, and some secondary employment is permitted – which was not the case for Innovator visa holders. 

As with the Innovator visa, settlement is possible after three years, and the requirements for this are closely similar to what they were before – but it has to be said that these requirements are difficult to meet in some cases. And the requirements for endorsement remain roughly similar to what they were but have been slightly simplified.

Whether the new route will attract more applicants remains to be seen, but there is one thing about it that strikes us as being advantageous. Previously, an applicant who wanted to acquire a settlement but who did not hold £50,000 had to apply for a Start-Up visa and then subsequently an Innovator visa. This is no longer the case: now only one visa application is necessary for someone in this situation. 

If you have any questions or issues about this area we will be able to advise you accurately. 


Oliver Westmoreland

Senior Immigration Lawyer