The UK Start-up visa is for non-EEA nationals who are new entrepreneurs and want to establish a business in the UK for the first time. You do not need to be a graduate or have secured any initial funding. However, you will need to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been approved by an endorsing body.
Start-up visas are one-off visas, valid for 2 years and the category does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. However, Start-up visa holders may extend their stay in the Innovator visa category and qualify for ILR three years later. Start-up visa applicants can bring their partner and any children under the age of 18 to the UK.
Who is the Start-up visa suitable for?
The Start-up visa category is suitable for early-stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business in the UK for the first time.
Generally, Start-up visa applicants will not already have started setting up their business in the UK. However, where they have, the new business should not yet have started trading. The only
exceptions to this are if the applicant has already been granted leave under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories, or under the Tier 4 doctorate extension scheme.
If you are an experienced businessperson seeking to establish a business in the UK then the Innovator visa may be more appropriate. If you wish to join an already trading business then the Tier 2 General Skilled Worker visa may be more appropriate. If you wish to invest in an already trading business then you may wish to consider the Tier 1 Investor visa route. If you are a senior employee of an overseas business looking to establish a commercial presence in the UK then you may like to consider the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
Requirements for a Start-up visa
In order to qualify for a Start-up visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- You are at least 18 years old;
- You have not previously established a business in the UK (unless you previously held leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur);
- You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing your business venture;
- Your endorsement letter was issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Start-up visa application;
- You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application;
- You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking);
- You have at least £945 available to support yourself (and £630 for each dependant) without relying on public funds.