UK Start Up Visa Explained

UK Start Up Visa illustration

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

If you want to join the ranks of British business, one path is applying for a UK Start-Up Visa that can put you on the road to a golden future.

You can apply for a Start-Up Visa if you have an outstanding, new business idea that could take the world by storm and meet a list of eligibility requirements.

Fresh and innovative thinking is the driving force behind the frenzy for start-up businesses in the UK.

According to recent research, most British workforce is eager to start a business, with the youngest leading the way with 83% of 18 to 24-year-olds dreaming of becoming entrepreneurs.

This dream is also open to aspiring entrepreneurs from outside the UK who have the drive to succeed.

If you are an investor looking for a UK visa, then make sure to read the latest information about the UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa.

Here, we explain how to make a successful UK Start-Up Visa application.

UK Start-Up Visa

How to make a successful UK Start-Up Visa application

  1. Pitch Your Business Idea

    The first step in applying for a UK Start-Up Visa is pitching your business idea.
    The UK Start-Up Visa does not need financial investment, like the Innovator Visa. However, the list of other requirements is similar.
    An endorsing body will scrutinise your business plan and test the viability of your idea. You must have an endorsement letter buying into your pitch before applying for the UK Start-Up Visa. 
    The idea should be something new and unique to show a team of experts who will analyse your business plan.
    Impress them with a pitch that shows fresh thinking that disrupts an existing market or identifies a new product or service.
    The experts will look for potential for the business to grow in the UK and worldwide.
    The UK Start-Up Visa allows you to stay in Britain for two years. No extensions are available, but you may apply to switch to a UK Innovator Visa once your business is up and running. 
    Any time spent in the UK on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa counts towards the two years.
    If your business fails to gain the UK Start-Up Visa endorsement, you may qualify for another type of visa that lets you work in the UK.
    You cannot apply for the visa if you have already opened a business that has traded in the UK.

    Simply moving a business to the UK from overseas is unlikely to end in a successful application.
    Step 1

  2. Endorsement Letter

    Once you have the endorsement letter, you can move on to to the UK Start-Up Visa application.
    You’ll need to put together a document pack that includes:
    1. A valid passport
    2.  Bank statements showing you have the money to pay for your upkeep  – and your dependents if they are coming to the UK with you
    3. Proof you can speak, read, write and understand English to a good standard
    4. Tuberculosis test results if you come from a listed country
    5. Certified translations of your documents if they are not already in English or Welsh 
    You cannot apply for the visa if you are not aged 18 or older or have a criminal record.Step 2

  3. Proof of Funds

    Your bank statements must show you had £1,270 in the bank for 28 days in a row before making the visa application to cover your day-to-day expenses.
    You will need to show extra funds if you come to the UK with a partner or children.
    Add £285 for your partner, £315 for the first child and £200 each for any other children.
    For example, a family of five would need £2,270 to cover living costs (£1,270 for you + £315 for your partner + £315 for the first child and £400 for two other children).Step 3

  4. Bringing your family to the UK

    Entrepreneurs taking the start-up route to gain a UK visa may bring their dependent families to Britain.
    However, each dependent must make a separate visa application, and each family member must live with the applicant throughout their stay.Step 4

Coming from Europe on a UK Start-Up Visa

If you come to Britain from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, visa rules are different if you lived in the UK before December 31, 2020.

Entrepreneurs with settled status should have registered to remain in the UK by June 30, 2021, and do not need a UK Start-Up Visa.

EEA or Swiss nationals – but not Irish citizens – without settled status starting a business in the UK should make a UK Start-Up application if they are eligible.

Irish citizens do not need a visa.

Going ahead with the application

Once you have marshalled your endorsement letter and personal document pack, you are ready to go online to apply for the UK Start-Up Visa.

Before applying, the last step is checking your passport has an empty page to take the visa or a biometric chip for an electronic visa.

During the application, you must prove your identity with the UK Immigration: ID Check app.

If you can’t access the app from a smartphone or tablet, you must  have your photo and fingerprints taken for a biometric ID card at  a visa application centre

The app is only for the ID check. Make the rest of the application with a computer or other device if you wish.  You must apply online if you are outside the UK.

Getting a UK Start-Up Visa decision

You should receive an email with the application result within three weeks.

If the application takes longer to process, you should get an email explaining why and what to do to complete the application.

If you made an application through a visa application centre,  you could pay to speed up the decision. However, some applications do not qualify for a faster decision.

Extending a UK Start-Up Visa

Unlike the Innovator Visa, you cannot extend the UK Start-Up Visa, but you can switch to another type of visa, providing you are eligible.

Switching to a UK Start-Up Visa

 You can switch to a UK Start-Up Visa If you are already in the UK on another type of visa.

You still need to meet the requirements of the visa for the switch.

A switch is not allowed if you are in the UK on one of these visas:

UK Start-Up Visa Application Fees

The cost of applying for the visa can vary depending on your circumstances and where you you apply from.

Who you’re applying forApply (outside the UK)Switch (in the UK)
Your partner and children£363 each person£493 each person

If you are from an EEA country, Turkey or North Macedonia, your fee is discounted by £55, but your family pays at the full rate.

A healthcare surcharge is also due. Click here to check how much you will pay

UK Start-Up Visa Questions

Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the UK start-up Visa. This list will grow over time so make sure to check back often.

If I start a business, can I work for someone else as well?

Yes, the UK Start-Up visa allows you to work in your own business and for another employer at the same time. However, you cannot settle in the UK, work as a professional sportsperson or claim state benefits, including the state pension.

Can I travel overseas and return to the UK on a UK Start-Up Visa?

Yes, the UK Start-Up Visa allows you to depart and leave the country.

What if my business endorsement is cancelled after the visa is granted?

The visa is usually cut short if the endorsement is withdrawn. However, you can apply for a new visa, providing this is done before the Uk Start-Up Visa expires. If you gain a new endorsement and a new visa, you may only stay in the UK for two years, including the time run down on the old visa.

How can I check I qualify for the EU Settlement Scheme?

The Eu Settlement Scheme registration period expired on June 30, 2021, but some EEA nationals can still sign up. You can check your status under the scheme online

How many entrepreneurs apply for business visas?

Statistics are not available for the UK Start-Up Visa.

However, the latest data from the Office of National Statistics for the 12 months to the end of March 2020 shows 159 Innovator visas were granted in the year.  The grant rate was 85%.

Questions or Comments

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