What is the UK Start-Up Visa?

The UK Start-Up Visa is for people looking to start up a business in the UK. Along with the Innovator Visa, it replaces the now-closed Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa route.

Who can apply for the UK Start-Up Visa?

Visa applications are open to anyone who has a business plan that has been reviewed and approved by a recognised UK endorsing body. The applicant’s business plan must be deemed ‘innovative’, ‘viable’, and ‘scalable’. This means:

  • The business must be a business which is different from anything else on the market or which introduces new ideas or a new approach onto the market
  • The business plan is well-researched and presents a realistic prospect of success for the business
  • The business has potential for growth and job creation.

The list of endorsing bodies recognised by the UK government is available here. It comprises various private bodies and universities. Each endorsing body has its own requirements and processes, and potential entrepreneurs should review carefully the application procedures of the different bodies.

Start-Up Visa vs Innovator Visa – what’s the difference?

There are a number of differences between these two visas, and immigration advisers and potential entrepreneurs should carefully check the Home Office guidance when choosing an application route.

The Innovator Visa is generally more suitable for experienced entrepreneurs and, unlike the Start-Up Visa, there is a compulsory requirement for initial investment. (Although it is of course worth bearing in mind that any new business requires investment funds.) The Start-Up Visa is only available to entrepreneurs who have never previously set up a UK business (unless they were previously operating in the UK on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa or Student on Doctorate Extension Scheme Visa).

Start-Up VisaInnovator Visa
No specific figure for investment required£50,000.00 minimum investment required
Must be creating an entirely new businessFor either new or existing business ventures
Valid for two yearsValid for three years
Cannot be extendedCan be extended for successive three-year periods
No route to settlementOffers a route to settlement after three years
Can be used to create an entrepreneurial team, if each partner is endorsedCan be used to create an entrepreneurial team, if each partner is endorsed and invests £50,000

Fees and documents required for a Start-Up visa

At the time of writing, a UK Start-Up Visa application fee is £378.00 if applying from outside the UK. If the applicant is already present in the UK, having come here on a different kind of visa, the fee is £508.00. If the applicant wishes to include their partner and/or children in the application, each additional individual will be charged the same fee.

There is also a mandatory health surcharge (IHS) payable for each individual – this will cost £624.00 per year (or £470.00 for individuals under 18 years of age).

In addition to their identity documents, an applicant will require;

  • A letter of endorsement from one of the recognised UK endorsing bodies (see link above). The letter must be recent – no more than three months old at the time of the visa application
  • English language competency (CEFR Level B2 or above)
  • Funds to support themselves – £1,270.00 for the main applicant, plus £285.00 for a dependant partner, £315.00 for a first child and £200 for each additional child.

For more detailed information about Start-Up Visa eligibility requirements, check the government guidance.

Start-Up Visa processing time

Assuming the visa application is completed properly, with sufficient supporting documentation, applicants from overseas can expect a decision within three weeks. Applicants currently living in the UK can expect to wait up to eight weeks for a decision.

Extending a UK Start-Up Visa

The Start-Up Visa cannot be extended. However, entrepreneurs currently operating on a Start-Up Visa can apply to switch to an Innovator Visa. If a person on a Start-Up visa switches to an Innovator Visa they will not need to invest £50,000.00.

Learn more with us

Here at Pacific Legal Training, we regularly offer CPD courses for OISC advisers and immigration lawyers. Check our CPD Courses page to find out about upcoming courses.

If you require private training on corporate immigration, or on any other area of immigration law, please do not hesitate to contact the team by telephone on 0800 066 2219 or by email at [email protected]