The UK Start-up visa is aimed at early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs looking to set up their first business in the UK. The Start-up route is open to both graduates and non-graduates, and no initial funding is needed to be eligible.

The application process is in two stages.

You will first need to secure endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor. This process will require a business plan to be developed, detailing your business idea, strategies and projections.

If approved, the assessing body will provide a letter of endorsement which should be submitted with the application. The assessor will be looking out for the following criteria

  • Innovation – a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viability – that you have or are developing the necessary skill, experience, knowledge and market awareness to run a business properly
  • Scalability – evidence that you are capable of structured planning and the potential for job creation and growth for the UK national market

If approved, you can then make your visa application to the Home Office.

You must

  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while in the UK
  • If applying from inside the UK, already have valid leave in the UK under either Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 2, Tier 4 (General) or as a visitor undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur
  • Not have previously set up a business in the UK
  • Demonstrate that you genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, the work/business activity referred to in your application

If successful, you will be granted leave for 2 years and can also bring your family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK. At the end of 2 years, you can switch into the Innovator category to extend your stay and develop your businesses in the UK.

During the granted period of leave, you must spend the majority of your time developing your businesses but can also take on other work outside of your businesses, to support yourself.

Please note that at present, we are only able to offer visa assistance to applicants who have already received an offer of endorsement from an endorsed body. The full list can be found here.