Start Up Visa

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Start-up Visa

The Start-up Visa category is for entrepreneurs who want to set up a business in the UK for the first time. The business idea must be innovative, viable, which has been assessed and supported by a Home Office-approved endorsing body.

Successful applicants are granted a maximum of 2 years of stay in the UK under this route. Time spent in the UK in the legacy Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category counts towards the 2-year Start-up visa limit.

Who should apply for the Start-up Visa?

The Start-up Visa category enables early-stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the UK for the first time. To be eligible for a Start-up visa, you are permitted to take steps to set up your business in the UK, but you must not have commenced trading in the UK prior to the date of your application for a Start-up visa. There are exceptions to this rule for Start-up visa Applicants; if you were last granted leave in the Start-up route, on the Doctorate Extension Scheme, in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route and set up a trading business during that permission of stay, you will be considered as not having previously established a business in the UK.

You are not required to demonstrate that you have secured funding for your Start-up business or to I vest your own funds it in at the point of application. You must, however, demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that your proposed Start-up business idea is innovative, viable and scalable. You must also demonstrate that your business idea has been assessed and supported by an endorsing body, which has been approved by the Home Office.

The specific requirements, that may be applicable to you, will differ depending on your circumstances. You may wish to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer.

If you wish to apply for a Start-up Visa, speak to one of our specialised immigration lawyers for expert advice by completing our “Enquiry Form”.

Eligibility requirements for Start-up Visa

In order to succeed in an application for Start-up visa, you must demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • you are at least 18 years old;
  • you are able to demonstrate English language competency at Level B2 (on the CEFR);
  • you have obtained endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsing body that has assessed and determined your business as being innovative, viable and scalable;
  • your business did not commence trading in the UK prior to the date of your application (unless you previously stayed in the UK as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Migrant);
  • you must have an endorsement letter issued not more than 3 months prior to the submission of your Start-up visa application;
  • you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your dependents in the UK without recourse to public funds;
  • you genuinely intend to engage in the setting up of a Start-up business in the UK as stated in your application.

Endorsement criteria for a UK Start-up visa

In order for your Start-up idea to be endorsed, you must satisfy a Home Office approved endorsing body that your business is innovative, viable and scalable. You can meet the innovative, viable and scalable business venture criteria if you can demonstrate to the endorsing body that:

  • your business proposal meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
  • your business proposal is realistic and can be executed with the funds and resources at your disposal;
  • you possess or are actively developing the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to competently run the business in the UK; and
  • you have structured plans in place for future job creation and growth into national markets.

Your endorsement letter must confirm that the endorsing body is satisfied that you meet the innovative, viable and scalable business venture criteria. You must also satisfy the endorsing body that the majority of your stay in the UK will be spent developing your Start-up business in relation to which you have been granted leave.

Approved Start-up endorsing bodies

Start-up endorsements can only be obtained from organisations that have been approved by the Home Office. The Home Office has published a list of authorised endorsing bodies ( that can issue endorsements for Start-up visas. Only organisations that appear on the list are eligible to provide valid endorsement to Start-ups.

Obtaining a Start-up visa endorsement

Our specialist immigration lawyers have significant experience of dealing with start-up visa applications and can assist you prepare a successful Start-up visa application. Our lawyers can also help you secure endorsement for your Start-up business by preparing tailored applications and accompanying representations to the endorsing bodies.

Genuine Start-up Applicant

The UK Visas and Immigration, as part of their decision making process, will carry out a credibility assessment to ensure that the Start-up visa applicant genuinely intends to engage in the establishment of a start-up business in the UK.

You must, therefore, satisfy the UK Visas and Immigration, on the balance of probability, that you are a genuine Start-up visa applicant and will spend the majority of your stay in the UK developing your proposed Start-up business.

The UK Visas and Immigration will only look for factors that may give rise to suspicion that the Start-up visa application may not be genuine. Those factors include, but are not limited to previous refusals because of genuineness concerns or there having been a significant number of identical or very similar applications in the past, some of which have proved not to be genuine.

In practice, however, the UKVI will not carry out a very rigid assessment as the endorsing, that issued the endorsement letter, would have already carried out its own genuineness test.

Financial requirements of a Start-up Visa

In order to qualify for a Start-up visa you must demonstrate to the UK Visas and Immigration that you have sufficient funds to establish and maintain yourself and any dependents in the UK without recourse to public funds.

You must only meet the financial requirements of a Start-up visa if you are applying from outside the UK or if you’re applying from within the UK you have not been in the UK for at least 12 months prior to the date of your application. If you fall into one the two categories you will need to prove that you have funds of at least £1270 to support yourself, plus £285 for a dependent partner, £315 for a first child and £200 for each additional child.

Joining a Start-up Team

The Start-up visa route allows you to be a sole founder of the business that is being set up in the UK or a member of an entrepreneurial team where you share the start-up business idea with other team members.  If you are applying as part of a team of entrepreneurs to start a business in the UK, each member of the team will be required to be issued with their own endorsement letter and satisfy the requirements of the Start-up visa category in their own right.

Switching into the Start-up visa category

You can submit an application for a Start-up visa from outside the UK or from within the UK depending on your circumstances. You are per mitted to switch into the Start-up visa route from within the UK provided that you do not currently have or your last leave was not as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules.

Conditions attached to Start-up Visa

If you are successful in your application for a Start-up visa, you will be granted leave subject to the following conditions:

  • you will not have access to public funds;
  • you may be required, by Part 10 of the Immigration Rules, to register with the police;
  • you will be permitted to take up work in the UK (including self-employment and voluntary work in the UK;
  • you will not be permitted to take up employment as a professional sportsperson;

you will be able to study in the UK subject to the ATAS Certificate conditions set out in Appendix ATAS.

How our lawyers can help you with your UK Start-up Visa Application

Our lawyers are specialists in UK immigration law with almost a decade of experience. We have assisted hundreds of UK Start-up Visa applicants to prepare and submit successful UK Start-up Visa applications.

Our immigration lawyers can provide you expert advice on meeting the requirements of the Immigration Rules, carry out a detailed assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a UK Start-up Visa and can assist you with the preparation and submission of your immigration application.

Our lawyers combine creative energy with deep technical legal expertise to uncover innovative, out-of-the-box and unconventional strategies that help you succeed in your application even when you’re facing inherent challenges in meeting the requirements of a UK Start-up Visa.

We do this by deploying the following:

  • Taking a holistic approach to analysing every facet of each case and formulating strategies to comprehensively address every element of the case;
  • Bringing deep technical and substantive legal expertise;
  • Collaborative strategizing among specialist lawyers, who operate at different levels of seniority, bringing a wealth of technical expertise, tactical know-how and diversity of perspective on your matter;
  • Using Design Thinking to reframe the challenges you face with a view to redefining value and opening up the scope of solutions;
  • Designing customised strategy to meet your specific challenges.

What this means for you?

If you instruct us to take on your case, our scope of work will comprise of the following:

  • Taking detailed instructions to carry out a thorough analysis of your case;
  • Assessing your eligibility for a UK Start-up Visa in line with the requirements as set out in the Immigration Rules, the accompanying Policy Documents and the wider case-law jurisprudence;
  • Notifying you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case;
  • Advising you on strategies, where possible, to remedy the weaknesses in your case and better evidence the strengths of your case;
  • Providing you detailed and customised advice on the documents you need to provide in support of your application;
  • Reviewing your documents to assess whether they meet the evidential requirements of your application and to advise you if further documents are required;
  • Drafting the application form to provide to you for review and, if required, amending the application in line with your observations;
  • Preparing a detailed letter of representations to be submitted in support of your application;
  • Submitting the application form online and arranging an appointment for the enrolment of your biometrics;
  • Responding to any queries from the Home Office regarding your application
  • Addressing any queries that you may have regarding your application and any issues arising relating to your immigration status;
  • Corresponding with the UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) to ensure a timely decision on your application.

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