UK amongst the most attractive destinations for foreign entrepreneurs in 2023

office worker for Innovator Founder visa UK

Entrepreneurial talent are in demand around the world, with an increasing amount of countries offering start-up or innovation style visas to attract them. Entrepreneurs are important as they play a pivotal role in creating jobs, attracting investment and economic growth for the economy. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) measure the attractiveness of countries and their ability to retain international talent. The United Kingdom came 4th in the 2023 edition of Attractiveness of OECD countries for potential start-up founders. The Innovator Founder visa is the most popular amongst entrepreneurs looking to live and work in the UK.

Is the UK an attractive place for entrepreneurs?

According to the OECD, the UK was ranked one of the most attractive countries for international start up founders and entrepreneurs compared to all other OECD countries analysed. Canada attained top place with the USA, France, Ireland and Australia also ranking in the top 8.

The United Kingdom score particularly high on Quality of Opportunities. This metric measures the business environment and networks already established in the country which helps build relationships with other companies. The UK scores high in this category because of the number of top businesses and start-ups already established here. This metric also includes trade openness which allows entrepreneurs to access market opportunities and access to international innovation.

Family Environment is another metric that the UK scores high, this dimension analyses the visa conditions for family members of the main applicant. The Innovator Founder visa allows family members including spouse and children to work full time and study. The quality of the school system is also considered, which the United Kingdom ranks highly.

Which Work Visa for entrepreneurs in the UK?

The most popular visa for entrepreneurs moving to the UK is the Innovator Founder visa.

Innovator Founder

Woman describing business plan in the UK

The Innovator Founder visa was created in 2019 and is a pathway towards permanent residence, it allows experienced business entrepreneurs to establish and grow a company in the UK. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for 3 years to help drive economic growth in the country.


In order to qualify for this visa you must meet several minimum requirements.

  • Have a business or business idea accepted by an approved body
  • Prove you have enough money to support yourself, normally £1,270
  • Speak, read, write and understand English to a minimum standard


You must have sufficient funds when applying for the Innovator Founder visa, the total minimum costs will vary depending on your circumstances.

Application Fee

When applying within the UK such as to extend your current Innovator Founder visa or to switch from another visa. You will pay £1,292 for up to 3 years.

When applying from outside the UK the fee will be £1,036.


The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) entitles you to use the NHS if you become unwell or have an accident while in the UK.

You have to pay the IHS even if you do not use the NHS or even if you have your own private health insurance, the cost is £624 per year.

If you are applying for a 3-year visa you will have to pay £624 each year, therefore you will have to pay a total of £1872.

Sufficient Funds

You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK, a bank statement will suffice.

The financial requirement is that you show you have enough money for your living costs for yourself and dependants while you move to the UK.

You do not need to show funds it you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with permission on the date of application.


You must bring relevant documentation that will require some preparation before arriving in the UK. Although, This will vary depending on your occupation, nationality and length of stay.

  • Provide an endorsement letter from an approved body
  • Proof of your knowledge of English
  • A valid passport for the entirety of the visa
  • Bank statement proving sufficient funds

Criminal Record Certificate

If you are applying for certain jobs mostly in the public sector such as healthcare, welfare and education sectors. You will need to provide a criminal record certificate for any country in which, since the age of 18, you have been present for 12 months or more in the 10 years before the date of your application.


For most applicants you must prove your identity by booking an appointment at a Visa Application Centre in your current country. The appointment will include collecting your fingerprints, facial photograph and signature. The UK government website has a list of addresses for each eligible country.


This visa will allow family members to join the main applicant in the UK, they are known as “dependants”. You don’t have to be a permanent resident or have an Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK to bring your family members. The cost for each dependant is £1846 as of January 2024.

Dependants over 18 can work full time in any profession throughout with no restrictions. The length of time allowed to stay is the same as the main applicants work visa.


Yes, the first step to becoming a British citizen is being granted a visa that contributes towards the 3 year requirement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

There are 3 main stages to being granted British citizenship.

  • Live and Work in the UK for 3 years on a work visa
  • Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)
  • Apply for Naturalisation/British citizenship

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