What is a Start-up visa? A Start-up visa is for talented non-British individuals who wish to come to the UK to establish an innovative new business.
Your business idea needs to be innovative, viable and scalable, bringing something new to the UK market.
For example, an innovative business idea could be a brand new product, a brand new service, or an original, new approach to an existing product or service.
The visa is for entry-level entrepreneurs, so there is no requirement to have already secured investment funding to start the business.
You must be able to show that your business idea is:
- a new idea – you cannot join a business that is already trading
- innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
- viable – it has the potential for growth
While on a Start-up visa, you are allowed to work for another company alongside your own business.
What is a Start-up visa application and how does it work?
The Start-up visa has a detailed application process. You submit your application online via the UK Government’s webpage.
The Home Office will assess your visa application, to check that your business idea meets the big three categories: innovation, viability, and scalability.
The Home Office then decides whether they are satisfied that your business plan meets the criteria. They can then approve or reject your application, or request more information from you, to help make their decision.
Once you have submitted your application, you will usually hear back within 3 weeks if you are outside the UK, or within 8 weeks if you are inside the UK.
You can ask to cancel your application. You will only get your fee refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.
How long is a Start-up visa?
Your Start-up visa is valid for 2 years. It can only be used once. You cannot apply to extend this for longer.
How do I become eligible for a Start-up visa?
You do not have to be a graduate to apply for a Start-up visa. To be successful in your application, you must:
- Be over 18 years old
- Have a genuine, original idea for your start-up business
- Have a realistic and achievable business plan
- Have an endorsement for your business by an authorised body (which must be stamped within the last 3 months of the date of your application)
- Have enough funds to support yourself independently while living in the UK
- Provide evidence of your English language skills
- Show how your business can contribute to the UK market, e.g. by potentially creating jobs
What documents do I need to apply for a Start-up visa?
- An endorsement letter from an endorsing body, that has assessed your business. Click here to see the list of endorsing bodies.
- A valid passport or other documents that verifies your identity and nationality.
- Bank statements show you’ve had at least £1270 in savings in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.
- Proof that you can read, write, speak and understand English to a level of B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale
- If applicable, your tuberculosis test results, if you’re from a country where you have to take the test.
If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you will also need to provide a certified translation.
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
You will need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you are:
- from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
- from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, but do not have a biometric passport with a chip in it.
How do I prove my identity when I apply for a Start-up visa?
Proving your identity depends on the country where you are from, and the kind of passport you have.
You will either:
- have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre – this is to get a biometric residence permit
- use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document – you’ll also create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account
You will be told what you need to do when you apply.
If you do need an appointment:
- the centre may need to keep your passport and documents while they process your application.
- you may have to travel to get to your nearest visa application centre (this could be in another country).
How much does a start-up visa cost?
The cost of a start-up visa depends on which location you are applying from and what your situation is.
You must pay the visa fee for each person that applies at the same time as you or applies later to join you in the UK.
You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge, which you can calculate here.
Who You Are Applying For
Applying From Inside the UK (Switching Visas)
Your partner and children
£378 per person
£508 per person
Can I bring my partner and children with me to the UK if I have a Start-up visa?
Yes, if they are eligible, your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours. You must provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.
A dependent partner or child is any of the following:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
You must be able to prove that you and your partner are either:
- in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK.
- you have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply.
If your child is 16 or over, they must:
- live with you (unless they’re in full-time education at boarding school/college/university)
- not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children
- be financially supported by you
If your child lives with you, you’ll need to provide 2 of the following documents to confirm their address:
- a bank statement
- credit card bills
- driving licence
- NHS registration document
- an official letter from their university/college
What else do I need to know if I want to bring my partner and children to the UK on my Start-up visa?
- Your partner and children must each have a certain amount of money available to support themselves while they’re in the UK. In addition to the £1,270 you must have to support yourself, you – or your partner or child – will need:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
The money must have been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply. You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply.
Visit the UK Government website to find out more about applying for a Start-up visa with your partner and children as your dependents.
What can I NOT do during my time in the UK on a Start-up visa?
- You cannot work as a doctor or dentist.
- You cannot work as a professional sportsperson.
- You cannot receive public funds (benefits) or the State Pension
- You must not neglect your business and stop working on it.
- You cannot settle in the UK on this visa.
What happens after my Start-up visa expires?
You cannot extend a Start-up visa. But, after your 2 years are over, you can potentially transfer to an Innovator visa using the same business idea, as long as you obtain an endorsement.
What if I am not eligible for a Start-up visa?
Visit the UK Government’s website here to check if you need a UK visa.
What are the benefits of Start-up visas?
- Attracts ambitious entrepreneurs from overseas to the UK
- Boosts the UK economy
- Creates jobs in the UK, which is amazing for helping with the UK skills shortage
- Creates growth in national markets
- If you are on a start-up visa, you can develop your own business and work for another company at the same time
- You do not need a large investment from a funding body to apply for a Start-up visa
- If you are an international student at a UK university, you can apply for a Start-up visa to establish a new business in the UK. Your university can endorse your business, which can make the application process easier.
We hope we have answered your questions regarding the topic of start-up visas.
To find out more about Synergy Immigration Solutions, and our visa services, visit our website here.
To contact us, call us on 020 315 05359, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online contact form.
Read more articles about visas and immigration-related enquiries on our blog here.
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