The Start-up visa category is aimed at new entrepreneurs starting their first UK business and has no requirements for initial capital investment. To qualify for a visa, applicants must first obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body confirming that their business is innovative, viable and scalable. Applicants who are successful are granted 2 years leave. After a set period of time, holders of Start-up visas may be able to progress to the Innovator category in order to extend their stay and further develop their businesses in the UK.
On 29th March 2019, the UK Start-up visa category opened to new applicants. This category is aimed at aspiring and ambitious entrepreneurs looking to set up a business in the UK for the first time. The key requirement for the Start-up visa is the same as the Innovator visa, which is to obtain an endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body. All applications will be assessed for Innovation, Viability and Scalability.
This assessment will be carried out by an approved endorsing body, who will need to confirm this in an endorsement letter. There is a number of specific rules about the format of this letter and what should be included.
Innovation - The applicant must have a genuine, original business plan that is in line with new or existing market needs and/or has a competitive advantage.
Viability - The applicant is actively developing or already has the required skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to run their business successfully.
Scalability – There needs to be evidence of structured planning and of job creation prospects as well as potential to grow into national markets.
The initial visa is granted for 2 years with no requirement for initial capital investment.
During this period of leave, applicants will be expected to dedicate most of their time to developing their businesses. Applicants can also undertake other work outside of their businesses in order to support themselves.
After 2 years, Start-up visa holders can change to the Innovator visa category in order to extend their stay and further develop their businesses in the UK.
Eligibility Criteria (initial application):
- be at least 18 years old;
- must not have previously set up a business in the UK;
- be endorsed by an authorised body - this can be either from a UK higher education institution or a business organisation who has previously supported UK entrepreneurs;
- provide an endorsement letter issued by the endorsing body;
- have a sufficient amount of personal savings to support yourself while you are in the UK;
- meet the English language requirement of at least CEFR Level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening. There are two exceptions which may apply, depending on your specific circumstances.
- work in another job, as well as working for your start-up business;
- switch to this visa from some other visa categories;
- bring your dependent family members with you to the UK.
- work as a doctor or dentist in training;
- work as a professional sportsperson;
- receive public funds.
- the earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel;
- priority Service may be available for entry clearance applications which should result in a decision within 10 – 15 days;
- standard processing times for entry clearance applications is approximately 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK. For applications submitted from within the UK, processing time is currently approximately 8 – 12 weeks.
Permitted duration of stay:
- start-up visa is valid for 2 years and you can not apply to extend this.
Yes, it is possible to switch to the Innovator Visa from Start-up visa.
You will need to receive endorsement from an approved body to be eligible to switch to the Innovator Visa, just as you would with a standard Innovator Visa application.
If you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK, you could switch from one of the following visas:
- Start-up visa
- Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
- Skilled Worker Visa
- Visitor Visa, (if applicant came to the UK to get funding with a supporting letter from an endorsement body)
As long as you applied for the Innovator Visa before your current visa expired, you will be able to stay in the UK until a decision has been reached.
Certain family members can join you when you travel to the UK on a Start-up Visa. Your family members will be classed as dependants of you.
The following people will be classed as dependants:
- A partner
- A child under 18
- A child over 18 if currently in UK as a dependant
If you have dependants, you must have £630 in savings per dependant, in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself.
You need to prove you have the required money in your bank account (or the dependant’s bank account) for at least 90 days before you apply for the Innovator Visa.
It is also possible for a person living in the UK to switch their visa to stay with you as a dependant. In these circumstances, the dependant must apply as a dependant partner or a dependant child.
The specific documents which need to be included in the IStart-up Visa application depends on your particular circumstances.
Still, the following documents will always need to be included in your portfolio of evidence:
- Current passport or other valid travel identification
- Proof of B2 English language test pass (if applicable)
- Bank statements showing that you have at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
- Evidence of your investment funds
- Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where the test has to be taken
Any documents which are not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator.
It is imperative that you provide all necessary documents in your application, and that they adhere to the strict Home Office standards. Failure to do so will result in an automatic rejection.
If you are applying for the Innovator Visa from outside of the UK, you can expect to receive a decision from the Home Office within three weeks. Applications made from inside the UK can take up to eight weeks. Also, dependant applications will be processed within eight weeks.
The application could take longer to process if the Home Office has any concerns about your application. For instance, you could be asked to have certain supporting documents verified.
If your application is approved, you can stay in the UK for three years.
At the end of the three years you will be able to extend your visa if you still meet the eligibility requirements and are still running a business in the UK, or want to start a new one.
If your business has already been endorsed in your original Innovator Visa application, you do not need to have £50,000 in investment funds to renew your Innovator Visa.
Also, you will need to include any dependents who are on your current Start-up visa in the Start-up Visa switching application.
The cost of a UK Start-up Visa depends on where you apply from and your specific situation.
|Who?||Standard Application||Extend or Switch|
|You (from Turkey or Macedonia)||£966||£1,222|
|Dependents||£1,021 per person||£1,277 per person|