Every year, countless innovators and entrepreneurs aspire to launch their ventures in the United Kingdom (UK) using the Innovator Founder Visa route. The new Innovator Founder Visa is a UK business visa that offers an excellent opportunity for non-UK residents to establish a scalable business in the UK and become an integral part of its thriving economy.
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Innovator founder visa holders can also apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the long run to settle in the UK. While this visa category presents a promising pathway, the journey is often fraught with challenges, including visa refusals that can drastically affect the planned course of these budding businesses.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind Innovator Founder Visa refusals and what can be done to deal with a refusal. Let’s get started!
Common Grounds of Innovator Founder Visa Application Refusal
Understanding the common reasons behind an Innovator Founder Visa application refusals can be the first step toward securing a successful future application. It’s pivotal to note that the UK immigration rules emphasise four primary areas in the visa application process: the completeness of your application, your financial resources, business plan endorsement, and English language proficiency.
1. Incomplete or Incorrect Application
An essential part of the Innovator Founder Visa application process is submitting a fully filled and correct application. A mere oversight or misunderstanding could lead to the omission of crucial information, resulting in visa refusal. Common mistakes include inconsistencies in the provided information, failure to submit necessary supporting documents, or errors in application dates. Consequently, it’s imperative to thoroughly cross-check your application to confirm it’s fully accurate and comprehensive.
2. Inadequate Financial Resources
For your business to qualify under the Innovator Founder route, demonstrating adequate financial resources is a requirement for an Innovator Founder Visa applicant. The UK immigration system is designed to confirm that businesses coming to the UK have the necessary funding to sustain and grow. Issues typically arise when applicants are unable to provide substantial evidence of their financial capacity or when their funds fail to meet the criteria set by the immigration rules.
3. Issues with Business Plan Endorsement
Securing an endorsement letter from an approved UK endorsing body is crucial to obtain an innovator founder visa. This is a testament that the endorsing body believes in your business idea and sees its potential to meet new or existing market needs. However, many applicants encounter challenges during the endorsement process.
It could arise from a weak business proposal, the inability to present clear, achievable objectives, or the lack of point meetings with the endorsing body. Remember, the approved endorsing body must believe that you play a key role in the day-to-day oversight and growth of your venture.
4. Lack of English Language Proficiency
Applicants must prove their English language proficiency to secure the Innovator Founder Visa. The prerequisite ensures that visa holders can correctly speak and execute business in the UK. Unfortunately, some applicants fall short of this standard and fail to provide acceptable proof of language proficiency.
Navigating these common pitfalls can improve your possibilities of a successful Visa application. But what if your application is refused despite your best efforts?
What to Do If Your Innovator Founder Visa Application is Refused
Having your Innovator Founder Visa application refused can be an unwelcome surprise, often resulting in feelings of disappointment and uncertainty. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t the end of the road, and there are several steps you can take to challenge the decision or consider alternative pathways.
An administrative review is the initial resort available if your application has been refused. Essentially, it’s a process wherein the Home Office re-evaluates your application, focusing primarily on the correctness of the decision-making process. It’s worth noting that new evidence is not typically considered during an administrative review; instead, the focus is on whether the original decision was made correctly in accordance with immigration rules.
The request for an administrative review should be made within 14 days (if you’re inside the UK) or 28 days (if you’re outside the UK) from the date of the refusal notice. The application can be made online, and the review is typically done by a different officer than the one who made the initial determination. It’s important to include all necessary details and present a well-prepared case, as the outcome of the administrative review can either be the overturning of the original decision or upholding the refusal.
If the administrative review maintains the refusal decision, or you believe the decision involves a matter of law, you can then consider applying for a Judicial Review. Unlike administrative reviews, Judicial Reviews aren’t limited to re-examining the application based on existing evidence; they can challenge the lawfulness of a decision, action, or failure to act by a public body such as the Home Office.
Remember, Judicial Review is a complex legal process and is generally seen as the last resort. It’s important to note that the time frame for submitting a claim for Judicial Review is limited. Typically, you must file a claim form within three months from when the grounds for making the claim initially arose. Considering the complexity and cost implications of this process, it’s advisable to engage a competent immigration solicitor.
If a Judicial Review is successful, the original decision may be overturned, the Home Office may be instructed to reconsider the decision, or they may be prohibited from taking a certain action.
Other Options to Consider
If both Administrative and Judicial Reviews fail, or you’d rather not go through these processes, there are alternative visa categories to consider. For instance, you could look into the Start-Up Visa if you are at the beginning stage of establishing a company or a Skilled Worker Visa if you have a job invitation from a UK company. There’s also the Tier 1 Visa route, which includes categories like the Global Talent Visa, Investor Visa, or Graduate Visa.
Each of these routes comes with its own set of prerequisites, and it’s crucial to understand these before proceeding with a new application. Consulting with an immigration advisor or an immigration solicitor can help you understand your options better, improve your application, and increase your chances of a successful outcome.
The Innovator Founder Visa route offers a promising pathway for non-UK residents to establish their businesses within the UK. However, the application procedure can be uncompromising, and visa refusals can pose a significant hurdle. While common grounds for refusal, such as incomplete applications, inadequate financial resources, issues with business plan endorsement, and lack of English language proficiency, are navigable, they require careful attention.
If faced with a refusal, you can challenge the decision via an Administrative Review or, if necessary, a Judicial Review. However, these legal processes can be intricate, and the assistance of an immigration advisor can prove invaluable.
With a refusal in hand, remember that this is not the end of your journey. Perseverance, due diligence, and a well-thought-out plan can still bring you closer to achieving your business goals in the UK.
Need Help with Innovator Founder Visa Application?
Navigating the complexities of UK immigration rules can be a daunting task. If your Innovator Founder Visa application has been denied, it’s important to seek professional help. Gulbenkian Andonian, a team of expert immigration lawyers, can provide crucial guidance in challenging the refusal decision and exploring alternative pathways.
Our team has vast experience in handling visa application refusals and offering tailor-made advice based on your unique circumstances. We can provide insights on the procedural nuances of Administrative and Judicial Reviews and help you explore alternative visa options, such as the innovator visa, Start-Up Visa, Skilled Worker Visa, or Tier 1 Visa.
Remember, a refusal isn’t the end of the road; it’s just a bump on your journey to establishing a successful business in the UK. With Gulbenkian Andonian by your side, you can navigate this with confidence.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs
Yes, you can apply for entry clearance as an Innovator Founder from outside the UK. However, the application process and eligibility requirements may vary based on your current location and circumstances.
You can demonstrate financial capacity through bank statements, sponsorship letters, or financial documents showcasing that you can sustain yourself without resorting to public funds.
Yes, you can reapply for the Innovator Founder Visa if your application has been denied. However, it’s essential to discourse the reasons for refusal while applying for a new application.
If you fail to satisfy the English language requirement, your Innovator Founder Visa application can be refused. You can, however, retake the English language test and reapply.
An endorsing body assesses your business idea based on its innovation, growth possibility, and viability. It plays a pivotal role in the application process, as obtaining its endorsement is a mandatory requirement.
An Innovator Founder Visa is usually granted for a period of three years. After this, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK if you fulfil specific requirements.
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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.
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Dr Bernard Andonian – the Co-Founder of Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors, is an experienced Immigration Solicitor, former Judge, and recipient of a PhD in Law from the University of West London. He has over four decades of experience practising UK Immigration, Human Rights and Civil Litigation Law. He has served on the Law Society Immigration Law Panel, achieved numerous groundbreaking decisions in higher courts and is featured in the Legal 500’s Hall of Fame.