From 13 April 2023, the UK Start-up Visa route will only be open to those who hold a valid Start-up endorsement issued before the 13 April 2023. From 13 July 2023, the UK Start-up Visa route will be closed to new applications. Start-up entrepreneurs who are looking to establish a business in the UK and who have not yet been endorsed may qualify for an Innovator Founder Visa instead. If you are interested in setting up a new business in the UK, or you own an existing UK business, you may also be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa via self-sponsorship, that is by being sponsored by your own UK company.
The UK Start-up visa is for individuals who are new entrepreneurs and want to establish a business in the UK for the first time. You do not need to be a graduate or have secured any initial funding. However, you will need to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been approved by an endorsing body.
Start-up visas are one-off visas, valid for 2 years and the category does not lead directly to settlement in the UK. However, UK Start-up visa holders may extend their stay in the Innovator visa category and qualify for ILR three years later. UK Start-up visa applicants can bring their partner and any children under the age of 18 to the UK.
The UK Start-up visa category is suitable for early-stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business in the UK for the first time.
Generally, UK Start-up visa applicants will not already have started setting up their business in the UK. However, where they have, the new business should not yet have started trading. The only exceptions to this are if the applicant has already been granted leave under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories, or under the Tier 4 doctorate extension scheme.
If you are an experienced businessperson seeking to establish a business in the UK then the Innovator visa may be more appropriate. If you wish to join an already trading business then the Skilled Worker visa may be more appropriate. If you wish to invest in an already trading business then you may wish to consider the Tier 1 Investor visa route. If you are a senior employee of an overseas business looking to establish a commercial presence in the UK then you may like to consider the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
In order to qualify for a UK Start-up visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
The exact requirements that you will need to satisfy may vary depending on the circumstances of your case. We recommend speaking to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
To discuss your UK Start-up visa application with one of our business immigration barristers, contact our Start-up visa lawyers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.
UK Start-up visa applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business. However, the requirement to have a ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea means that, in practice, you may need to have funds available to invest. Some endorsing bodies require a certain level of funding as a condition of endorsement.
In order for your business proposal to be endorsed, an approved endorsing body will need to be satisfied that your business idea meets all of the following criteria:
The endorsing body will also need to be satisfied that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing business ventures.
The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies for Start-up visa applications. This list of endorsing bodies contains the names of all currently approved UK Start-up visa endorsing bodies, as well as links to their websites and, where available, details of their application process and endorsement criteria.
Our immigration barristers assist entrepreneurs from around the world to prepare successful UK Start-up visa applications. We can also assist applicants to secure UK Start-up visa endorsement. Richmond Chambers is a trusted introducer to several endorsing bodies, ensuring eligible clients direct contact with investment panel members as well as transparent and timely decision-making.
Applications for Start-up visas can be made from outside the UK, but it is also possible to switch into the Start-up visa category from within the UK provided you do not have, or were not last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules.
The UK Start-up visa category is for people seeking to establish a new business in the UK for the first time. If you are looking to join an existing business then the UK Start-up visa category is not an appropriate immigration route.
You do not need to be the sole founder of your business and may be a member of a Start-up team. This means that you may share the same business idea and plan as another Start-up team member. However, each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body.
If your application to be endorsed by a UK Start-up visa endorsing body is approved, you will be issued with a UK Start-up visa endorsement letter. This letter must be submitted as part of your Start-up visa application. The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the information that must be included in a Start-up visa endorsement letter. Advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that your endorsement letter satisfies the requirements of the rules.
Your initial UK Start-up visa will be valid for 2 years, unless you were previously granted leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, in which case you will be granted leave for a period that will take you to the maximum 2-year limit.
It is not possible to extend a UK Start-up visa and UK Start-up visa holders are not eligible for settlement. However, at the end of 2 years you will be able to apply for further leave to remain in the Innovator category in order to continue developing your business. The Innovator category can lead to settlement after a further 3 years.
As a UK Start-up visa holder you will not be required to spend any particular amount of time in the UK and you will be permitted to undertake employment other than working for the business or businesses that you have established.
However, you will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body with checkpoints at 6 and 12 months. The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress in relation to either your original or a new business idea. Your endorsement may be withdrawn and your leave curtailed if this is not the case. You will also need to abide by various other conditions of stay.
Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany or join you as your dependant(s).
Richmond Chambers is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading immigration practices for Start-up businesses. The work of our immigration barristers on behalf of startups has been recognised through membership of the Investment Migration Council and the Department of International Trade’s Investor Support Network.
Our team of immigration barristers has experience in assisting all types of start-up businesses. Once your business idea has been endorsed by an approved endorsing body, our barristers will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies to ensure a successful Start-up visa application.
We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to startups as part of a professional and friendly service.
As specialist immigration solicitors, we pride in having one of the best team of specialist immigration solicitors with wealth of knowledge and experience to deal with all types of UK visa and immigration matters. Our top rated immigration solicitors have successfully helped thousands of clients with all types of UK visa and immigration applications, immigration appeals, Administrative Review, Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and Judicial Review.
Representing your Interest