What is the Start-up visa and who is it for?
The Start-up visa enables overseas entrepreneurs with entry-level business experience to come to the UK to establish an innovative business. Because this is aimed at those who are developing their business experience, including recent graduates, there is no requirement to have investment funds to secure a Start-up visa. Applicants must prepare a detailed business plan to show their innovative business idea and have this endorsed by an approved endorsing body in the UK.
This scheme was introduced in anticipation of Brexit (the UK left the EU at the end of 2020) as a means of encouraging new entrepreneurial ideas and businesses to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation and re-establish the country as a global powerhouse.
It is important to note that the Start-up visa does not provide a direct route to permanent settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain – ILR) in the UK, but it is possible to switch to another visa type while here, which will allow you to gain ILR.
Entrepreneurs with investment funds of at least £50,000 and robust business experience should consider the Innovator visa (this route also provides a direct route to permanent settlement).
Holders of a Start-up visa can remain for up to 2 years, at which point they can apply to switch to a different visa type (such as the Innovator visa) while still in the UK.
Launched in March 2019, the Start-up visa replaced the old Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.
Start-up Visa Requirements
- Are over 18 years old
- Have a business plan for a new start-up business that is innovative, viable and scalable
- Have the (or be developing) the business skills necessary to establish a successful Start-up business in the UK
- Have an endorsement for their business or business idea
- Meet the English language proficiency requirements
- Have enough funds to support yourself in the UK
- is genuine and original
- is for a genuine Start-up business
- meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
- is realistic and achievable based on the applicant’s available resources
- shows the prospective visa applicant has or is actively developing the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business; and
- shows evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.
English Language Requirements
- can read, write, speak and understand English to level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale and have evidence of an English language test to prove this, or;
- you have a degree which was taught in English, or;
- you are from an exempt country – these include: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA.
Sufficient |Support Funds For A Start-up
Business endorsement For Start-up Visa
- is there a need for the business in the UK?
- does the applicant have, or are they developing the skills necessary to make the proposed innovative business a success?
- does the business bring anything new to pre-existing markets?
- has the applicant done enough market research?
- are there realistic, sustainable product goals in place?
- is there a long-term plan for the venture?
- will the business gain sufficient “traction” in the market?
- is there potential for growth in the UK?
Staying in contact with the endorsing body and contact points
How to apply for a Start-up visa
- Prepare your Start-up business plan
- Apply for Start-up endorsement from an appropriate approved endorsing body 2 in the UK
- Once endorsed, you will need to complete the online application form on the Home Office website; the form you need to complete depends on whether you are switching from a different visa while in the UK or you are outside.
- Once your application form has been submitted, you will need to prove your identity. This can be done by either (you will be advised which identity method to use when you apply):
- having your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre – this is to get a biometric residence permit. There is a small fee of £19.20 to cover the costs of having your biometric information scanned and processed. Your biometric residence permit provides proof of residency in the UK.
- using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document.
- Pay the application fee of £363 (if outside the UK) or £493 (if inside the UK) – these fees are the same for your dependant family members. If you are from an EU country, your application fee may be reduced by £55.
- Pay for the immigration healthcare surcharge for the duration of your visa (this is currently £624 per person per year).
Start-up visa to indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
The Start-up visa does not provide a direct pathway to permanent settlement (also referred to as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR). As explained above, in relation to extending the visa, there are options available that will allow you to gain ILR at a later stage. Most Start-up visa holders will use this route as a ‘spring-board’ to then apply for another visa which will give them a direct route to ILR. There are a range of options available which will allow you to do this, including the following:
- Innovator visa: this is a natural progression for Start-up visa holders who have £50,000 in investment funds available and allows ILR to be gained after just three years.
- Skilled Worker visa: this option is available to those who have gained employment for another company (the employer must be a sponsor licence holder) and meet the minimum salary requirements. ILR can be gained after 5 years.
- Spouse visa: If you are living with a partner or spouse who is British or has gained permanent residency in the UK, you can apply for a spouse visa under the family visa route. ILR can be gained after 5 years.
To discuss your options regarding gaining ILR as quickly as possible in the UK and then citizenship after a further year, speak to the team at Reiss Edwards, who will be able to explain all of your options and recommend the best pathway given your circumstances and plans.