UK Start-up Visa

The UK Start-Up Visa is aimed at new entrepreneurs launching their first UK business and carries no requirement for initial capital investment. Successful applicants are granted a 2-year visa after which they may be able to progress to the Innovator category in order to further develop their business(es) within the UK.
  • The UK Start-Up Visa is a new category that replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa program. Applications are assessed for innovation, viability and scalability and must be accompanied by an Endorsement Letter from a Home Office approved Endorsing Body.

Entry clearance applications

The Start-Up Visa requirements may be met by the following criteria :
  • Applicant must be at least 18 years of age
  • Applicant may not be a Swiss citizen or from the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Applicant must not have previously set up a UK business
  • Applicant must be endorsed by a relevant Endorsing Body
  • Applicant must have sufficient personal savings in order to reside in the UK
  • Applicant must meet the English language requirement
Key Benefits:
  • There is no investment fund requirement, however applicants may require investment funds as a condition of endorsement
  • Applicants may bring their family members, including a spouse/partner and children under the age of 18

Entry clearance applications

Applicants may transfer to the Start-Up Visa category should any of the following apply :
  • Applicant is already resident in the UK
  • Applicant wishes to transfer from the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) program
  • Applicant wishes to transfer from any Tier 2 Visa program
  • Applicant wishes to transfer from the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa
  • Applicant is a UK visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur
Processing time :
  • Applicants may apply up to 3 months prior to travel to the UK. To expedite the decision-making process, applicants may pay for a Priority Service

Extension of Stay and Settlement

  • The Start-Up Visa is a one-off visa without the option for extension after 2 years or qualification for further leave to remain under this category.
  • However, Start-Up Visa holders may switch to the Innovator Visa program in order to extend their stay in the UK and facilitate further business development. The Innovator Visa is valid for a 3-year period. After 3 years there is an option to extend the visa prior to expiry, or to qualify for ILR. Should a 5-year period have passed since an applicant first entered the UK through the Start-Up Visa program, they may well become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (UK settlement).

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 recognized 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’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.

What you can and cannot do

You can :
  • bring family members with you
  • switch to this visa from some other visa categories
  • work in another job, as well as working for your business
You cannot :
  • get public funds
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • settle in the UK on this visa