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Visa Endorsements
Visa Routes

Visa Routes

We’re currently an Endorsing Body for the Founder and Scale-up visa routes. As soon as a project has been successfully assessed and the additional checks completed, we are able to issue your endorsement letter at no further cost. 

Once you have your endorsement, you will also have a choice to take additional services which will help you to build a successful business and where relevant, achieve your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).  

Visa Routes

  • Scale-up

    For UK businesses who are on track to meet the definition of a Scale-up business in the next 4 years, and want to sponsor individuals applying for a Scale-up visa

    Find out more
  • Innovator Founder

    For International Entrepreneurs seeking to build their innovative, viable and scalable businesses in the UK, and work towards their Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

    Find Out More

There are four types of Scale-up and Innovator Visas – here’s a summary of what you might need to think about when applying for yours:

  • Innovator Founder
    (New Business)

    For entrepreneurs with viable, scalable and innovative businesses which are close to market or already established

  • Innovator Founder
    (Same Business)

    For entrepreneurs on a Start Up / Innovator Visa who can demonstrate significant progress and sustainability

  • Innovator Founder

    For entrepreneurs on an Innovator Visa who meet at least two of the seven criteria for settlement

  • Scale-up

    For UK businesses who are on track to meet the definition of a Scale-up business in the next 4 years

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you help us to develop an idea?
  • No, we can’t. Successful businesses usually come from an idea that is based on your skill, experience, knowledge and something you’re passionate about. If you don’t have a well formed idea which is based on sound research of an opportunity in the UK, then this route is probably not suited for you.

  • Can I talk to you about my idea?
  • Unfortunately not. Under the guidance for Endorsing Bodies, we’re not able to provide any feedback on ideas or plans until an applicant has committed to proceed through the application process, and made their payment for assessment. We then have a formal assessment process that we follow, which will include the provision of feedback.  

  • Can you help us to develop a plan?
  • We provide guidance on what we’re seeking in a plan in our application packs.

  • My business plan isn’t perfect - should I apply?
  • Business plans are rarely perfect. What’s most important, is that you’ve provided the information we need to ensure you meet the criteria. Please download the application pack and have a read – this tells you what we’re looking for. It doesn’t have to be perfect; If you apply and we like the idea but want to know a little more, we’ll contact you to ask further questions. 

  • Can you put us in touch with a business plan writer?
  • We don’t do this anymore, as there are a high number of business plan writers in the marketplace, and we need to demonstrate impartiality. If you have an idea you want to present in a plan, we recommend our business planning course. If you do decide to engage a business plan writer, please note that it is not their role to develop your idea for you – they should simply help you articulate your idea in a clear format. You have to provide the content and the detail, as you’re the person who will have to make it happen!

  • Can I merge with (or invest in) an existing business in the UK?
  • The rules for this are clear. You must be a founding member of the business, a director or member in the business, and have an active and significant role in the daily management of the business. This is not a programme for investment into existing businesses, and you may only join an existing business if there is clear evidence that you are a founding member. 

  • If my application is refused, can I appeal?
  • When we assess your idea we follow a formal process. Through this process, we develop a good understanding of whether a project is suitable or not. If we are unsure, we will contact you to ask further questions. If we choose to refuse your application, we will provide feedback on the areas where we do not believe it met the criteria. You have a single chance to address these points and for a secondary assessment. You may provide additional information, but you are not permitted to change the basic idea or plan. 

    Following a secondary assessment, our decision is final. You may choose to lodge a formal appeal that will re-assess the submitted application, but this option will not permit the submission of any further information or materials.  

  • If my application is refused, can I apply with another idea?
  • If you pay for the assessment of an idea which is refused, you are more than welcome to apply with another idea. However, you will have to go through the assessment process again, which will require making the assessment payment again. Our experience has shown that the first idea that people apply with tends to be their strongest – so if this is refused, the probability of a second, third or further application turning into thriving business decreases. So our recommendation is to put your best idea forward first!  

  • Is the initial £1k (+vat) assessment fee refundable?
  • The initial £1K + vat (where applicable) fee is for the assessment and is not refundable. 

  • Do I have to pay VAT on the assessment fee?
  • If you are resident in the UK, you will have to pay the VAT on the assessment fee. If you are not resident in the UK, VAT will not be added to the assessment fee. VAT is payable on the 2nd and 3rd year payments, as you will be expected to be resident in the UK at these points. 

  • Can we apply if we need investment?
  • You are expected to have access to the funds required (personal savings or investments) to get the business to a sustainable position prior to applying for this programme. You may wish to seek further investment as the business progresses (for example to accelerate your growth) but you must be able to demonstrate that the business will be sustainable with only the funding that you are able to evidence at the point of application, and not require additional investment which has not yet been secured. 

  • Do you help us to find investment?
  • We do not provide investment funds to applicants. We may have contacts who can help with this process, but this is dependent upon your business, your requirements, and whether you’ve chosen our INSIGHTPRO programme, which is subject to an additional cost. You should not choose this route if your project is dependent upon funding which it has not yet secured. 

  • How long does the application take?
  • In most cases, an application takes 3-4 weeks. For this, we need to have a business plan which provides all of the information we need, and you need to answer questions that we may ask as quickly as possible. In some cases – where we have a high number of applications – this may take a little longer. 

  • What happens if we’re a team of applicants?
  • Where there is more than one applicant in the business, we need to know that the business will be able to support the needs of all of the applicants. So, the more people there are in the team, the more compelling the proposition has to be. We commonly assess applications for one or two people, with applications for teams of three or four being less common.

    The cost is per-applicant and is non-negotiable. You can make the initial expression of interest as a team, but for the formal application stage, each person has to apply separately. Directors, partners and other founder members who do not require endorsement do not need to apply. 

Support with immediate impact

The courses Innovator International provided are informative and entertaining and equip me with specific ideas and actions, which can be practiced immediately.
Ivy, UKIIC Accelerator

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