UK Start-up Visa
The Start-up route officially closed to new applicants in 2023. The following information is retained for historical interest only.
What is the UK Start-up Visa?
The Start-up visa is designed for non-EEA nationals who are looking to establish a new business in the UK.
It is similar to the Innovator visa, but is a preferable option for university graduates or those who don’t have access to personal funds to invest in their business. It serves largely as a replacement for the old Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.
Start-up Visa: White Rose Visas enhanced service
There are three core elements to a successful Start-Up visa application. Our Enhanced Service provides assistance with each of these. This means that we can help you move from having a business idea, right through to gaining a visa and opening your new business in the UK. The successful Start-Up applicant must:
- Develop and write a detailed Business Plan. This must evidence the fact that the business will be genuinely innovative, and should include market research, financial projections, Value Proposition, route map, and applicant's suitability to establish the business. Our business plan team has experience of over 100 startups, across almost every business sector, and will work with you to craft the plan necessary to realise your own individual vision.
- Obtain an Endorsement from a suitable endorsing body. White Rose Visas have built unique relationships with a number of endorsing bodies, so that for any given business idea, we know who to go to, and we know exactly what the endorsing body will be looking for in a new business.
- Complete the immigration application, with all necessary supporting documents. White Rose Visas has earned a reputation that is second to none for ensuring that our clients' immigration applications are successful, even where the case is complex, or where a large amount of supporting documentation is required.
- We will also help to ensure your business is well-positioned for you to switch into the Innovator route which ultimately leads to Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
If you have any questions about the Start-Up visa, or have a potential business idea, do get in touch with our expert immigration advisers. 30 minutes of phone, Zoom, or email advice is completely free.
How do you qualify?
To be eligible for a Start-up visa applicants must meet the following requirements:
- An Endorsed Business Idea - all start-up visa applicants must first obtain endorsement from a listed endorsing body before they can apply for the visa. For the start-up visa these endorsers are business accelerators as well as Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Applicants must show that their business idea is innovative, viable and scalable. Each endorsing body will have a different process through which applicants must follow to obtain endorsement.
- Maintenance Funds – applicants must show that they have access to at least £945 in their bank account, maintained for a minimum of 90 days before making the application.
- Knowledge of English Language – start-up visa applicants must prove that they know the English language to the level B2 on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) scale. They can prove this by taking an appropriate test, being a national of a listed majority English speaking country or by holding a degree which was taught in English.
Unlike the Innovator visa, applicants for the Start-up visa do not have to evidence any investment funds for their business.
How long is the Start-up visa granted for?
Start-up visas are granted for a total of 2 years.
There is no opportunity to extend the start-up visa. However, after the initial two years applicants can switch to the Innovator visa to continue establishing their business in the UK.
When switching from Start-up to Innovator applicants do not need to show any investment funds, as their business will already be established and will have been endorsed for an earlier visa.
If a Start-up visa holder wants to pursue a different business venture to the one they attempted on their Start-up visa, they are able to do this by switching to the Innovator route. However, if this business is a new idea then the £50,000 investment funds will be required.
Even if the business is the same as before applicants will need to obtain an endorsing letter from an endorsing body (the same or a different one) to evidence that their business idea meets the criteria.
Can you include family members in the Start-up visa?
Applicants are able to bring dependants with them to the UK on the Start-up visa. This includes husbands, wives or partners and any children under the age of 18.
Applicants must evidence an extra £630 maintenance funds per dependant, in addition to the £945 requirement.
These funds must also have been held for a minimum of 90 days.
Dependants on the Start-up visa are able to stay for the same amount of time as the main applicant.
Does the Start-up visa lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
The Start-up visa does not directly lead to ILR. However, time spent in this category does count towards the 10 year Long Residence route. Furthermore, if an applicant successfully switched from Start-up to Innovator, they could be eligible to apply for Settlement after 3 years on the Innovator visa.
In order to do this they would need to meet the Innovator 3-year Settlement criteria.
If these criteria are not met the applicant could still then extend their Innovator visa and apply for Settlement in a further two years.
What is your next step?
If you have an idea for a business that might be a good fit for the Start-Up visa, do get in touch. You can talk to one of our advisers on the phone, or send a message or email, whatever works best for you. The first 30 minutes of advice is completely free.