The New Innovator Founder Route - changes to immigration rules and visas

Sydney Mitchell LLP

The Home Office are constantly making changes to the Immigration Rules and Visa routes, the latest being the introduction of the new Innovator Founder Route which launches from today.

This visa is for new or more experienced entrepreneurs who wish to set up and run a business in the UK. It must be a new business or an established one which has not yet started trading.

From 13 April 2023 the previous Innovator Route and Start-up route closed and was replaced and combined into one more simplified category, whereby Applicants must have approval from one of the Business Endorsing Bodies.


In order to obtain endorsement, the main requirements remain, whereby Applicants will need to have a business idea which is:

  • Innovative – a new, original business idea.
  • Viable – have potential to grow but with a realistic business plan for development.
  • Scalable – have a clear plan for growth and job creation.


There are however some key changes in order to try to give flexibility and attract business and talent to the UK.

  • There is now no minimum investment requirement unless the business idea particularly needs a cash injection in order to get started.
  • The Endorsing Body will now only need to make contact with the business on a minimum of two occasions, unlike the previous rule whereby checks had to be made at 6, 12 and 24 months. Individuals must demonstrate they will have day to day involvement in carrying out their business plan.
  • Secondary employment is now permitted as long as it is not at a skill level below RQF Level (generally equivalent to A-Level).


Applicants must be the sole founder of the business or a key and contributory member of the founding team.

Alternatively, if you are part of an overseas business who want to expand or wish to work in the UK at an already established company you may want to consider other visa routes such as the Expansion Visa or the Skilled Work Visa.

If you would like assistance or guidance with this type of application please get in touch with Melissa Southall or Andre Minnaar on 08081668831 who will be more than happy to help and advise on the new changes to immigration rules and processes.

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