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Welcome to

Start-up Visa

This category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. This category offers leave for 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but applicants may progress into the Innovator category.

Please note that the Start-up visa holders are permitted to work for other businesses, that is, be employed, an addition to running their own business.

In our view this is a return to the HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme) and the Tier 1(General) immigration categories.


You can now come to the UK to open a business under the Start-up visa category without the need of a financial investment

The Start-up visa is designed for those applicants, who want to set up a business in the UK. Applicants are expected to meet the relevant eligibility requirements and be endorsed by an authorized body that is either:
  •     a UK higher education institution
  •     a business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs
Applicants must pass the Home Office credibility assessment. In certain circumstances applicants may be interviewed by the Home Office.

The endorsement letter must confirm that the applicant’s business venture meets all the requirements in relation to:
  • Innovation - the applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viability - the applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
  • Scalability - there is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.
Applicants can stay in the UK for up to 2 years on a Start-up visa. Applicants cannot extend the start-up visa beyond the 2-year period, yet the Start-up applicants may switch into other immigration categories in-country, for example, the Innovator visa.

Applicants are required to stay in contact with the endorsing body at checkpoints 6 and 12 months after their application is granted. At these check points applicants are expected to have made reasonable progress with their original business venture and is pursuing a new business venture that meets the endorsement criteria.

Start-up visa holders can:
  •     bring their family members with them
  •     switch to this visa from some other visa categories
  •     work in another job, as well as working for their business
Interestingly, study is also permitted, subject to the condition set out in Part 15 of the Immigration Rules.


Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body. They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

Applicants must also:
  •     be at least 18 years old
  •     meet the English language requirement
  •     be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK
Supporting yourself

You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

 Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
  •     passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  •     having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you have already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.


You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
  •     Antigua and Barbuda
  •     Australia
  •     the Bahamas
  •     Barbados
  •     Belize
  •     Canada
  •     Dominica
  •     Grenada
  •     Guyana
  •     Jamaica
  •     New Zealand
  •     St Kitts and Nevis
  •     St Lucia
  •     St Vincent and the Grenadines
  •     Trinidad and Tobago
  •     USA
 Documents you must provide

When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ from an authorised body.

You willl also need to provide:
  •     a current passport or other valid travel identification
  •     bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply*
  •     your tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where you have to take the test
  •     proof that you have knowledge of the English language
*If the applicant is applying in the Start-up category, they do not need to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from their endorsing body confirms they have been awarded funding of at least £945.

You will need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You will need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Application process

You can apply online in most cases

Switching into the Start-up category

Applicants in the following categories can switch into the Start-up visa route:
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 4 (General)
  • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur

 Family members

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:
  •     your husband, wife or partner
  •     your child under 18
The above options are not exhaustive as we treat every client's case individually. Please do not hesitate to book a phone, Skype or office consultation with us for a professional immigration advice and possible further representation before the UK Border Agency or the First Tier or Upper Tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) (FTT/UTT IAC).

We are here to help: , 077 911 45 923 (Mob/Viber/WhatsApp), 0330 001 0342 and, of course, the helpful instant and same day Legal Centre Skype, Phone, Viber and WhatsApp Consultations