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UK Start-up visa

UK Start-up visa is an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to relocate to the United Kingdom and set up a business without any mandatory investments

What is UK Start-up Visa?

A UK Start-up visa was introduced not so long ago to replace a UK Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. It is designed for foreign entrepreneurs who are starting and who want to enter the British market. The Home Office hopes that the immigration route will attract ambitious businesspeople from all over the world.

There are no investment requirements for start-up entrepreneurs, but they must speak English well and their business must be beneficial to the economy. They can manage a business alone or set up a partnership.

A UK Start-up visa does not lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or British citizenship. However, it has several other benefits.

With a UK Start-up visa, you and your family can move to the UK and set up a business without any mandatory investments. Your spouse and children will be able to work and study in the UK, and in two years, you will be able to switch to another visa category. Imperial & Legal advisors can help you along the way.

Advantages of UK Start-up Visa

A UK Start-up visa offers an opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs to set up and develop a business in the UK and on the international market. It gives access to a thriving business environment, government support and transparent legislation, especially when it comes to taxation. All these will help you grow your professional expertise and develop skills necessary for career and business enhancement. Start-ups are favoured by banks and HMRC. Here are some key advantages of this immigration route:

  1. To get a UK Start-up visa, you do not have to invest in a business. You just need a promising business idea. The application costs of a UK Start-up visa are significantly lower than those of a UK Innovator visa or UK Tier 1 Investor visa.
  2. You can apply as a sole entrepreneur or set up a partnership, but in the latter case, all partners must get endorsement letters from relevant bodies.
  3. A UK Start-up visa allows you to switch to a UK Innovator visa if your business develops by the business plan. It is beneficial to run a business in the UK since the country offers stable economic conditions and high demand due to the market size.
  4. You can add your family members to your UK Start-up visa application: spouses, minor children, and adult children if they are dependent on you.
  5. Compared to the UK Innovator visa, the UK Start-up visa does not stop you from being employed until your business starts to generate any significant income.

What Are the Restrictions of a UK Start-up visa? 

  1. A UK Start-up visa does not lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) since it cannot be extended. If you plan to stay in the UK longer, you will have to switch to a UK Innovator visa.
  2. With a UK Start-up visa, you cannot do jobs for which there is a separate visa route. For example, you will not be able to do professional sports.
  3. Start-up entrepreneurs cannot apply for government support, including tax reliefs and benefits.

Requirements for UK Start-up Visa

To apply for a UK Start-up visa, you must be at least 18 years old and have your business idea endorsed by a relevant body. The latter must issue an endorsement letter confirming that your business idea is new, innovative, and viable. Here is the list of all endorsing bodies and guidance on working with them.

Apart from obtaining an endorsement letter, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You must have enough money to support yourself and your dependants. For 28 days before applying for the visa, you must have at least £1,270 in your bank account, with the amount increasing with each added dependant. 
  • You must have at least a B2 level of English. You can pass a special test or provide a diploma from a British university. Citizens from several English-speaking countries and Commonwealth do not have to confirm their knowledge of English.
  • Negative tuberculosis test (for citizens of some countries).
  • Clean criminal record.

All documents must be in English. All translations must be notarised.

Why Must I Obtain an Endorsement for My Business Idea?

The UK is interested in attracting new businesses and seeing new unique goods and services on its market. To control start-ups more efficiently, the Home Office has appointed endorsing bodies. They include respected colleges and universities, investment funds, professional associations and a few other companies that the Home Office has entrusted to assess the quality of new business projects.

An endorsement letter is a confirmation by an approved body that your business idea meets all the required criteria of innovativeness, viability, and scalability. The letter is your main document for a UK Start-up visa application. When you apply for endorsement, you should provide all the information that will help your endorsing body assess your business and approve it. A business plan may come in handy here.

Here are the main evaluation criteria for endorsement:

  • Innovativeness
    The British market is saturated with different goods and services. To be successful, your business idea must be original to find its customer in the local and international markets and generate profit. To understand how innovative your product is you must perform preliminary research on similar products already sold in the UK.
  • Viability
    There are no investment requirements for a UK Start-up visa, but you must prove that you can manage your future business successfully. You must show that you have all the tools and means to make it resilient to changes in the market.
  • Scalability
    You are expected to develop and expand your business in a highly competitive environment. You must show what economic goals you set, how many jobs you can create and what goods and services will be exported abroad.

To cut a long story short, when applying for a UK Start-up visa, you need to do the following:

  1. Prepare a solid business plan where you will prove that your business meets three key endorsing criteria: innovativeness, viability, and scalability.
  2. Find the most suitable endorsing body, contact it, provide it with all the necessary information about your project and get an endorsement letter.

Your endorsement letter must date no longer than three months before the application for a UK Start-up visa. 

Imperial & Legal advisors will help you draft a business plan, choose an appropriate endorsing body and get an endorsement letter on time.

Follow-up evaluations

Six or 12 months later, the start-up entrepreneur will have to go through endorsement again. An endorsing body must ensure that you manage your business properly and achieve the set goals. In case any violations are detected, an endorsement letter can be revoked and you will have to either find a new endorser or leave the country.

How to Apply for a UK Start-up Visa?

You have three months after getting your endorsement letter to either apply for a UK Start-up visa or switch to another visa category in the UK.

If you are outside the country, you must visit a visa centre to submit biometrics and have your photo taken.

How Much Does It Cost to Obtain a UK Start-up Visa?

When you apply for a UK Start-up visa, you must pay an application fee. Its amount depends on the number of your dependants and your current location:

  • If you apply for the visa outside the UK, the main applicant and each dependant will cost £378; 
  • If you apply for the visa inside the UK (while switching to another immigration category), the main applicant and each dependant will cost £508.  

Since it is a long-term visa, a health surcharge must also be paid; it depends on the number of applicants and the duration of your stay in the country. Each applicant must pay £624 a year.

You will not get your application fee back if your application is refused. To submit a new application, you will have to pay again. The health surcharge, however, will be refunded.

Imperial & Legal experienced advisors will analyse your case in detail, help you prepare all the documents and fill in the application correctly to avoid any delays and additional costs.

How Long Does It Take to Obtain a UK Start-up Visa? 

If you apply for a UK Start-up visa outside the UK, it normally takes up to three weeks for the application to be processed. If you apply from inside the UK, it will take more time, up to eight weeks.

To comply with all deadlines and avoid additional requests from the Home Office, you must prepare all the documents and fill in the application properly. If you are in a hurry, you can pay for an accelerated procedure.

How to switch from a UK Start-up Visa to a UK Innovator Visa?

A UK Start-up visa is issued for two years and cannot be extended, so it does not lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain or citizenship. However, if you meet all the requirements, you can switch to a UK Innovator visa. 

To get a UK Innovator visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Your business is assessed and approved by an endorsing body
  2. Your company is trading; it is innovative, viable and scalable
  3. You manage your company on a day-to-day basis.

Imperial & Legal advisors suggest that you start an application to switch to a new visa category 8-10 weeks prior to your UK Start-up visa expiration date.

Imperial & Legal immigration advisors can help you obtain a UK Start-up visa and relocate to the UK. Our experts practise an individual approach to save the client’s time, stress and money. With Imperial & Legal, you are only four simple steps away from your UK Start-up visa.

Contact Imperial & Legal
Timeframe: 1 day
Imperial & Legal experts are UK-based regulated immigration advisors. A consultation with our experts can be held in our office, over the phone or via Zoom/Skype. During the consultation, your immigration advisor will get to know your circumstances, listen to your story and answer all your questions. Once a service agreement is signed, our experts will start working on your case.
Prepare documents for endorsement
Timeframe: 3–4 weeks
Imperial & Legal immigration advisors act as your official representatives when applying for a UK Start-up visa. They will help you draft a business plan, prepare a list of documents that you need to get an endorsement letter and draft all the required cover letters. The Home Office will notify you if your endorser approves your business idea.
Fill in and submit your application
Timeframe: 1 week
While submitting documents for an endorsement letter, our experts are also preparing your visa application – Imperial & Legal specialists will have the supporting documents translated into English, prepare your application, fill in online forms, pay application fees and submit the application a day after you get your endorsement letter. We will make an appointment for you to visit a UK visa centre to submit biometrics and upload all the necessary documents into the system.
Get your UK Start-up visa
Timeframe: 3 weeks
If you apply from outside the UK, you will get a decision on your UK Start-up visa within three weeks. Once your application is approved and you have received your visa, you may relocate to the UK. Imperial & Legal assistance is not limited to immigration issues, they can also ensure your smooth relocation to the UK, help you find lovely accommodation and get your children enrolled into a nursery or a school. We can also support your business – help you with registering a UK company, accounting and dealing with taxes. Most of our clients keep in touch with us after their relocation to extend their visas and get ILR and UK citizenship.

Successful stories of our clients

FAQ about UK Start-up Visa

Does an applicant for a UK Start-up visa have to confirm their education or qualification?

There are no such requirements for foreign start-up entrepreneurs. It does not matter whether a person has a professional qualification or has just come up with a brilliant business idea.

However, an endorsing body will have to ensure that an applicant has the required business skills or at least is developing them.

Can I apply for a UK Start-up visa if I have already registered a British company?

UK Start-up visa does not mean that you must set up a new company; this is a misconception. However, you cannot become one of the directors of an existing UK-based company.

There are no restrictions concerning dormant companies. Even if you have registered a company with the Companies House, but have not traded yet, you can still apply for a UK Start-up visa.

Who cannot switch to a UK Start-up visa?

You cannot switch to a UK Start-up visa if you are currently staying in the UK on the following routes:

Apart from that, if you have an endorsed business project, you can apply for a UK Start-up visa.

If the main applicant has a spouse and children, do they have to submit separate applications?

Yes, they do. To get a UK Start-up visa, the main applicant’s dependants (spouses, partners or children) have to submit separate applications. However, it is a formality; all the applications will usually be submitted together.

For dependants, it is important to indicate the main applicant’s application reference that is issued automatically and used in all the emails and communications from the Home Office.

If my endorsement letter is revoked and I get a new one, how long will my new UK Start-up visa be valid for?

If your endorsement letter is revoked and you obtain a new one, your Start-up visa will not give you another two years of stay in the UK. You will be limited by the duration of your first visa.

Need expert immigration advice?

We have been helping businessmen worldwide to obtain a Start-up visa and relocate to the United Kingdom. Contact us to start your application today.