The Start-up visa is for individuals who are new entrepreneurs and wish to establish a business in the UK for the first time. You do not need to be a graduate or have secured any start-up funding. However, you will need to have an innovative, viable business idea that has been approved by a regulated body.
Start-up visas are one-time visas, valid for 2 years. However, Start-up visa holders in the UK can extend their stay in the Innovator visa category and qualify for ILR three years later.
Start-up visa applicants can bring their spouse and children under the age of 18 to the UK.
Who is the Start-up Visa suitable for?
The UK starter visa category is suitable for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the UK for the first time.
If you are an experienced entrepreneur looking to establish a business in the UK, the Innovator visa may be more appropriate.
Requirements for an initial visa in the UK
To qualify for an initial UK visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visa and Immigration:
- Be at least 18 years old on the date of the visa application;
- Not have previously established any business in the UK (unless already licensed as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur);
- Have approval from an endorsing body in the UK that has assessed your business idea and approved your project as being innovative and viable;
- Your endorsement letter was issued no more than 3 months before the date of your start-up visa application;
- You genuinely intend to undertake, and can undertake, any work or business activity in the UK;
- English level at least, CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking);
- Prove you have £1,270 to support yourself
Investment funds requirement for an initial UK visa
Start-up visa applicants in the UK do not need any money to invest in their business. However, the requirement to have a ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea means that, in practice, it may be necessary to have funds available to invest. Some endorsement bodies require a certain level of funding as a condition of endorsement.
Endorsement criteria for a Start-up visa in the UK
For your business proposal to be endorsed, and approved endorsing body will need to make sure that your business idea meets all of the following criteria:
- Innovation: you have a business plan, genuine and original, that meets market or existing needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
- Viability: you have, or are actively developing, the skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness required to run the business successfully;
- Scalability: Your business plan has potential for job creation and growth in national markets.
The approval body will also need to be satisfied that you will spend most of your working time in the UK on business enterprise development.
Approved to endorse visas for start-ups in the UK
The Home Office has published a list of bodies that endorse beginner visa applications.
Period of validity of the initial visa for the United Kingdom
Your UK Start-up visa will be valid for 2 years unless you have been previously licensed as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, in which case you will be licensed for a period that will take you to the maximum 2-year limit.
Extension of a UK start-up visa and ILR application
It is not possible to extend the Start-up visa, however, at the end of 2 years, you can apply for a visa to stay in the Innovator category to continue developing your business. The Innovator category extends your visa for another 3 years and at the end, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
How our immigration Adviser can help
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We are motivated, dedicated, and thorough in providing simple and easy to understand immigration information in a very credible manner as part of a professional and friendly service.
To discuss your visa application with one of our immigration advisers, please contact us by chat or phone at +44 20 3846 2808 or +4475 2190 3003.