Start Up Visa
What is a Start Up Visa?
A Start Up Visa is a legal document which allows talented, high-potential, non-British individuals to come to the UK to establish an innovative new business for the first time.
If you are already experienced in your field of business and you wish to establish a new business in the UK, then an Innovator Visa may be right for you instead.
To qualify for a Start Up Visa, your business idea needs to be innovative, viable and scalable, bringing something new to the UK market.
For example, your innovative business idea could be:
- a brand new product
- a brand new service
- an original, new approach to an existing product or service.
The Start Up 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, to support yourself. However, you are expected to dedicate most of your time to developing your business.
What is a Start-Up Visa Endorsement?
When you apply for a Start-Up Visa, you must have an endorsement for your business plan, by an approved body. They will assess your business plan and give you the endorsement if they are satisfied that your business is innovative, viable and scalable.
To obtain an endorsement, you must contact an approved endorsing body and follow the Start-Up Visa Endorsement process.
You may find it useful to choose an endorsing body in the industry your business is in; for instance, there are endorsing bodies that work specifically in the fields of technology, healthcare, energy, food, fashion, and so on.
How do you apply for a Start Up Visa?
To apply for a Start Up Visa, you must fill out an application form online, via the UK Government’s webpage here.
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 UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has not started processing your application.
What are the requirements for a Start Up Visa?
You do not have to be a graduate to apply for a Start-up visa.
The key requirement for a Start Up Visa is to obtain an endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body, which must be stamped within the last 3 months of the date of your application). This is the same requirement as the Innovator Visa.
Your endorsing body must be satisfied that your business plan is genuine, original, scalable and that you are competent to run the business successfully. You must keep in contact with your endorsing body during your stay in the UK on this visa, especially at the 6 month and 12 month checkpoints.
To be successful in your application for a Start Up Visa, you must also meet the following requirements:
- Be over 18 years old
- Have a genuine, original idea for your start-up business
- Have a realistic and achievable business plan
- 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
While you are on a Start Up Visa in the UK:
- You cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training.
- 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 supporting documents do I need to submit when applying for a Start Up Visa?
You will need to submit the following documents alongside your Start Up Visa application:
- An endorsement letter from an endorsing body that has assessed your business. Click here to see the current list of approved endorsing bodies.
- A valid passport or other documents that verify your identity and nationality.
- Bank statements that prove you have 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 are 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 long can you stay in the UK on a Start Up Visa?
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, whether they apply at the same time as you, or if they apply later to join you in the UK.
You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge, which you can check here.
Read the table below to find out the costs for a Start Up Visa:
Who you are applying for
Applying from outside the UK
Applying from inside the UK (switching visas)
Your partner and children
£378 per person
£508 per person
Can you extend a Start Up Visa?
No, you cannot apply to extend a Start Up Visa. The duration of the visa is 2 years only.
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 from an endorsing body.
Can my partner and children come with me to the UK on my 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 are 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 is 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 years old 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 will 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 financial evidence do I need if I apply to bring my dependents with me on a 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 in your dependant’s bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply. You will need to show proof of this when you apply.
What if I am in the UK on a Start Up Visa and my endorsement gets withdrawn?
Your visa may get cut short. You will have to re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
You can only stay in the UK for a total of 2 years, even if you are granted a new Start Up Visa with a new endorsement.
Where can I get help on my Start Up Visa Application?
The immigration professionals at Synergy Immigration Solutions understand the complexity of the UK’s immigration laws and the issues that can arise during the application process.
That is why we house all the support services you need for immigration applications, under one roof. This means one cost only, for complete support on your visa application.
We enjoy working with individuals who need assistance with their visa applications.
We will liaise with the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on your behalf- saving you time, effort, workload, and stress.
We will answer your questions and address any concerns. We are proud to offer a bespoke personalised service, tailoring our advice to suit your needs and ensure that your application has the best chance of success.
We process all applications in an efficient and timely manner and keep our clients well-informed throughout the process.
It is vital that the correct documentation is in place to ensure the application is approved.
We would always recommend that you appoint a specialist such as Synergy Immigration Solutions to manage this process for you.