Start Up Visa

The Start-up visa category is an excellent opportunity for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time in their career. In order to qualify under the Start-up category, applicants will need to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea supported by an endorsing body.

The initial grant of leave under this category is for 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement. However, when the applicant has timed out of leave after 2 years, they may switch to the innovator category for the purpose of settlement.

Start-up Visa business plan

All applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain must have a business plan endorsed by an approved endorsing body. The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and may be a member of a Start-up team member but each member must have their own individual endorsement.

Investment funds

Start-up visa applicants do not need any funds to invest in their businesses.  However, the requirement to have a ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea means that, in practice, you may need to have funds available to invest.  Some endorsing bodies require a certain level of funding as a condition of endorsement.

Endorsement criteria for a UK Start-up visa

In order for your business proposal to be endorsed, an approved endorsing body will need to be satisfied that your business idea meets all of the following criteria:

  • Innovation: You have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
  • Viability: You have, or are actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business;
  • Scalability: Your business plan has the potential for job creation and growth in national markets.

The endorsing body will also need to be satisfied that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing business ventures.

Start-up visa endorsement letter

If your application to be endorsed by a Start-up visa endorsing body is approved, you will be issued a Start-up visa endorsement letter.  This letter must be submitted as part of your Start-up visa application.  The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the information that must be included in a Start-up visa endorsement letter.  Advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that your endorsement letter satisfies the requirements of the rules.

English language

An applicant for a Start-up visa cant meet the Secure English Language test listed in Appendix O if ;

  • The applicant has passed an English language test at CEFR Level B2
  • The applicant is a national of a majority English speaking country or;
  • The applicant has a degree taught in English evidenced by UK NARIC equivalence

Maintenance funds

How much you pay for a Start-up visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
Yourself £363 £493
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £308 £438
All dependants £363 for each person £493 for each person

Lengths of leave

This category offers to leave for 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but applicants may progress into the Innovator category below.

Category the applicant is applying in

Length of leave: initial applications

Eligible switching categories

Start-up 2 years
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 4 (General) – the restrictions

Extending a Start-up visa and applying for ILR

It is not possible to extend a Start-up visa and Start-up visa holders are not eligible for settlement. However, at the end of 2 years, you will be able to apply for further leave to remain in the Innovator category in order to continue developing your business.  The Innovator category can lead to settlement after a further 3 years.

Why Us

We have experienced business immigration solicitors, who provide prompt and cost-effective advice to any individual applying for Start-up Visa from overseas or within the UK.  By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  We will assist you with all aspects of business immigration law, including applying for a Start-Up Visa to switch to an innovator Visa after 2 years.  If you wish to discuss this, please phone our London office on 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.

For further help or information Get In Touch

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