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Start-up visa: how a beginner entrepreneur can move to the UK

PUBLISHED: 11 September 2020
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Start-up visa to the UK replaced a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa that for long had been an excellent opportunity to relocate to Great Britain for young businessmen with ambitious ideas.

In this article, we will talk about who can apply for a Start-up visa, which requirements they must comply with, which criteria a new business must meet, and other relevant matters related to this visa category.

Opportunities offered by a Start-up visa

The main thing is an access to a huge and constantly growing UK market that is regulated by corporate laws that are clear even to new entrants. The government supports start-ups and offers them tax benefits as well as simple banking options.

No investment is required to obtain a Start-up visa to the United Kingdom. You can start your business alone or as part of entrepreneur team. A significant bonus is the ability to bring the whole family with you.

Requirements for Start-up applicants

You can apply for a Start-up visa if you:

  • Are not EEA or Swiss citizen.
  • Plan to start a business in the UK.
  • Comply with all other qualification criteria.

You can also switch to a Start-up visa from other categories such Graduate Entrepreneur and a visitor visa for prospective entrepreneurs.

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Qualification criteria for a Start-up visa

Before you can submit your application, you must get an endorsement for your business, or business idea, from one of the approved organisations. The list of government approved endorsing bodies includes higher educational establishments and corporate bodies that strive to support UK entrepreneurs.

If your business meets three criteria below, an endorsing body will issue you an endorsement letter. If you have a partner or partners, they must each obtain an endorsement letter.

Other requirements to Start-up visa applicants:

  • You must be older than 18.
  • You must speak fluent English at least to Level B2 of the European classification. You must either pass an English test or provide proof of education received in English equal to bachelor’s or master’s degree, or higher.
  • You must be of good health and pass a tuberculosis test (not for all countries).
  • You have no criminal record.
  • You have enough money to support yourself and family during your stay in the UK without recourse to public funds. The main applicant must show funds of £945 that must have been on a bank account for at least 90 days before the date of application.

Criteria for business

For an endorsing body to issue a letter of support, they must evaluate your idea against three criteria:

  1. Innovativeness
    Your business plan must be either original or create a new demand or cover an existing demand in the UK market. A unique competitive feature can also count as innovation.
  2. Viability
    Your business plan must be based on the resources available to you. In other words, it must be realistic and achievable. Besides, you must already have or be learning necessary skills, knowledge and experience to develop the idea.
  3. Scalability
    You are expected to demonstrate the potential for growth and expansion of your business in a highly competitive environment that would translate into new jobs and new markets.

All endorsing bodies value their image and reputation so they must be sure that you will spend most of your time in the UK on growing and developing your business. And they make sure by conducting regular checks on you.

In 6- and 12-month time after obtaining a Start-up visa and moving to the UK, you will need to contact your endorsing body and report to them on your achievements and persuade them that they have made the right decision in supporting you. However, this might not be enough.

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New rules in Start-up visa

The Home Office can conduct their checks on the endorsing body that issued you a letter. They would ask them to provide additional information to:

  • Make their own assessment of how your business meets the above-mentioned criteria.
  • Check whether your endorsing body has been doing what they are supposed to do.

An endorsement is not indefinite; it can be revoked if you fail to report within prescribed time limits.

What to do if you lose your endorsement?

If your sponsor decides to revoke their endorsement after reviewing your report or they lose their authority to endorse, all you can do is find another endorsing body.

The same applies to an entrepreneur team; if at least one of you is revoked, all of you lose the endorsement.

Which family members can I bring to the UK?

A Start-up visa allows to bring the following dependants to the United Kingdom:

  1. Spouses or partners.
  2. Minor children.

Additional requirements for dependants

Family means responsibility, and you must show to the Home Office that you have enough money to maintain all family members.

Add to the £945 mentioned above another £630 for each dependant coming with you. Say, you want to move with a spouse and a child – you must have at least £2,205 on your bank account. The rules also state that the required amount must be on your bank account or on your relative’s bank account for at least 90 days before applying.

How long a Start-up visa is valid for and what it gives

A Start-up visa is only granted for 2 years and cannot be extended. If your idea has succeeded and you have achieved what you wanted, you can switch to another visa before your Start-up visa expires, for example Innovator visa or even Investor visa.

If you switch to the said visas, you will be able in a few years to apply for UK permanent residence, or settlement. Your family can apply with you. To do that, all adult applicants must pass an English test and Life in the UK test.

UK permanent residents have almost the same rights as British citizens. But if you want to become British yourself, you can apply for naturalisation a year after settlement.

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How we can help

For many years, qualified lawyers at Imperial & Legal have been helping foreign nationals to come to the UK. Our specialist have relevant experience and expertise to offer full business support to your start-up every step of the way, from drafting a business plan for a visa to switching to another visa and applying for settlement.

Experts at Imperial & Legal offer turn-key customised solutions to our clients to meet all their needs, both personal and business. We provide full business support and corporate services and help with relocation to the UK.

Tired of getting general advice?

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