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Setting up a business in the UK – The UK Start Up Visa

by Simi Dhanjal — Posted on 9 October, 2019

Applying for the recently introduced UK Start Up Visa with an Immigration solicitor

What is the UK Start Up Visa?

The UK Start Up Visa is a visa category that was recently introduced on the 6th July 2019 to replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa program.

This visa would not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but further applications for other visas could be made afterwards, read below to find more information on this.


Who is the UK Start Up Visa aimed at?

The UK Start Up Visa is aimed at entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the UK for the first time that is in the early stages but has high potential.

It is not necessary for you to be the sole founder of your business; you could be part of a team sharing the same business idea and plan. However. Each individual member of the team needs their own endorsement from and approved endorsing body

If you are looking to join an existing business, then the Start-up visa category is not right for you. Consult our immigration lawyers who could help you apply for other more suitable visas.


What are some of the requirements for the UK Start Up Visa?

Some of the main requirements for the UK Start Up Visa are:

  • You cannot be a European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland citizen.
  • You want to set up a business in the UK
  • You must not have previously set up a business in the UK.
  • You are at least 18 years old
  • Your business/business idea must undergo an assessment by an approved body
  • You must meet English language requirements by either:
    • being a national of a majority English speaking country; or
    • passing an English language test level at a Secure English Language Test centre
    • holding a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.
    • Previously been granted an entry clearance or leave to remain in any of the following categories: Start Up, Innovator, Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012, Tier 2 (Minister of Religion), Tier 4 (General), supported by a CAS assigned on or after 21 April 2011
  • You must have at least £945 of personal savings to support yourself whilst in the UK

A Start-up visa holder is not required to spend a specific amount of time in the UK. They are permitted to undertake employment other than working for the business attached to their start up visa. However, they will need to stay in contact with their endorsing body with checkpoint updates at 6 and 12 months.  The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that they are continuing to work on their business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress. Failure to demonstrate this could result in the endorsement being withdrawn

Depending on the circumstances of your case these requirements may vary, or you may be eligible for a different visa such as the Innovator Visa. Therefore, it is recommended that you speak to an Immigration Lawyer at Starck Uberoi for expert advice. Get in contact with us by email at or call us on 0208 840 6640.


What criteria are the approved body assessing business ideas against?

Your business/business idea must undergo an assessment by an approved body that is either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. They will assess your idea by looking at the following areas:

  • Innovation – A genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
  • Viability – You already have or are actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run your business.
  • Scalability – demonstrate evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.


How long does the UK Start Up Visa last for?

The UK Start Up Visa is designed to be a one-off visa. The holder is authorised to stay in the UK for 2 years and can bring family members with them. These family members include a spouse/partner and children under the age of 18.

A UK Start Up Visa cannot be extended after the two years are up, but you can apply to switch for an Innovator Visa. This would allow you to extend you stay in the UK and continue to develop your business. This visa is valid for 3 years, with the option to extend when it expires.

After 5 years in the UK, you could be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain.


How do you apply for the UK Start Up Visa?

The UK Start Up Visa must be applied for online. You will also need a biometric residence permit as part of your application. To get this you will need to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a UK visa application centre in the country you’re applying from.

You must also provide a business plan and supporting documents for endorsement. Those endorsing your Start-up Visa application must be ‘reasonably satisfied that you will spend much of your working time in Britain developing your business venture,’ in accordance with UK immigration rules.


What costs are associated with a UK Start Up Visa?

When applying for the UK Start Up Visa, a UK Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 a year will be required.

Technically, applicants for a UK Start Up Visa do not need any funds to invest in their business. However, the requirement for the business idea to be viable and scalable indicates that you would need to have funds to invest. Depending which endorsement body you apply to they may have a requirement for a certain level of funding.

How Starck Uberoi can help

Our fully qualified immigration solicitors have the expertise to deal with all your complex immigration matters. Whether you are applying for leave to remain or naturalisation, Starck Uberoi’s immigration lawyers can assist you. We are specialists in Visa – Visitor, Student, Spouse, Children, Worker, British Citizenship and Nationality, EEA Family Permit, Asylum, Appeals and Judicial Reviews. For more information please visit our Immigration Law page, or to book an appointment please call 020 8840 6640. Our offices are based in Ealing and London Victoria. For an appointment at any of our offices, email us at

About Simi Dhanjal

Simi is an immigration solicitor and her passion for equality and human rights issues has led to her working in both the paid and unpaid legal sectors. Non-profit organisations she has worked for include the Surrey Law Centre, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, and the Refugee Council. Her expertise, passion and very approachable nature means Simi is extremely adept in her handling of all immigration cases. Apart from human rights issues, Simi’s passions include travel, theology and reggae.