The UK Startup Visa: All You Need To Know
If you’re an entrepreneur who wants to start a business in the United Kingdom for the first time, why not consider applying for a UK start up visa? If you’ve always dreamt of living and working in the UK, this might be a great opportunity for you.
In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the UK startup visa and help you understand how it works.
What Is UK Start up Visa?
The UK Start up visa is for ambitious entrepreneurs who want to start their firm in the United Kingdom. Startup Visa provides a wonderful chance for entrepreneurs to begin their careers in the country by exploring a company idea that will benefit the UK economy as a whole.
Start up visa is valid for a maximum of two years, after which you’ll be required to apply for a different visa category, such as the Innovator visa, to continue your company and live in the UK.
Start up Visa vs. Innovator Visa
If you’re already familiar with the UK Innovator Visa, you might be wondering how a startup visa is different. The primary differences are the experience and investment funds. Successful start up visa application is based on an entrepreneur's 'great potential,' rather than their prior expertise. Also, you don’t need to have funds available in your bank account, unlike Innovator Visa. All you need is a scalable business idea and a lot of passion to start a business in the UK for the first time!
UK Start up Visa Eligibility and Requirements
The main eligibility criteria to be eligible for a start up visa in the UK is getting an endorsement from approved bodies.
An authorized body is either a higher education institution in the UK or a business organization with a history of helping UK entrepreneurs.
You’ll also need to demonstrate that your business idea meets the following criteria:
- New - you cannot join an existing company
- Innovative - you must have a unique business concept that is unlike anything else on the market
- Viable- it can grow
The endorsing organization will provide you with a letter that you can include with your visa application. After six, 12, and 24, they will contact you to assess your development concerning your business objectives.
Definition of an Endorsing Body
An endorsing body is a government-approved entity that has been accredited to recommend a business idea. To be able to get a start up visa in the UK an endorsing body should evaluate your business idea and check if it is creative and viable. Incubators, accelerators, government agencies, and business development organizations are examples of endorsing bodies.
UK Start up Visa Application Requirements
- You are at least eighteen years old
- You haven’t started a business in the UK before (exceptions may apply depending on your previous visa applications)
- You have been authorized by the UK endorsing body that has evaluated your business idea for innovation, viability, and scalability, and is satisfied that you’ll be committed to growing your business
- Your endorsement letter was sent out no more than three months before the submission of your startup visa application
- You truly want to engage in any work or business activity in the United Kingdom that you mention in your application, and you are capable of doing so;
- Your English level is at least B2 Level
Citizens of the following countries don’t need to demonstrate their English proficiency when they complete a start up visa application:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
When you apply for a UK start up visa, bank statements demonstrating that you have had at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account for 28 days before applying will suffice. For this visa application, no further financial capacity proof is required.
UK Start up Visa: How To Apply
Check If You’re Eligible
Check to see if you match the eligibility requirements before contacting any endorsing body. This stage is critical, and we recommend that you seek professional advice before proceeding to the next phase.
Create Your Business Plan
As we’ve previously stated, your business plan must be a unique one. If you work with experienced advisors, they’ll help you prepare your business plan.
Contact an Endorsing Body
It's time to contact an endorsing body if you and your business plan meet the requirements. At your initial meeting with the endorsing body, you can submit your business plan and strategy.
If the endorsing body is convinced that your business plan will succeed, they’ll approve it. You can move on to the next step after you receive your endorsement letter.
Start Your Visa Application
If you're applying from outside the UK, you'll need to visit the Home Office's official website to apply for a UK Start up Visa. You'll need to submit your documents and confirm your identity at this point. Depending on the sort of passport you have, your biometric data will be collected at a visa application center or via the UK Immigration ID Check app.
After you’ve applied online, verified your identification, and submitted your documents, you should get a response within three weeks. If your application takes longer than expected, you will be notified, for example:
- If you’re applying with a family member who needs an appointment but you don’t;
- If your supporting documents must be validated;
- Or if you must attend an interview due to personal circumstances, such as a criminal conviction.
You’ll need to stay in touch with your endorsing body while you’re staying and working in the UK under a startup visa. This happens through checkpoints at certain times. At these checkpoints, your endorsing body, will assess your progress and see if it’s in alignment with your business plan.
Validity of UK Start up Visa
Start up visa is valid for two years. It can’t be extended but, at the end of the two-year visa term, if you qualify, you can apply to switch to the UK Innovator Visa.
Eligible Family Members
As a start up visa holder, your dependents, your partner, and children under the age of 18 are welcome to accompany or join you.
While in the UK, your partner and children must each have a set amount of money to sustain themselves.
You – or your partner or child – will require the following in addition to the £1,270 you must have to support yourself:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
The cost of a start up visa varies depending on your circumstances and where you apply.
Who you’re applying for
Apply (outside the UK)
Switch (in the UK)
Your partner and children
£363 each person
£493 each person
As part of your application, you’ll be required to pay a healthcare surcharge too.
Benefits of a Start up Visa
When you get your start up visa, you’ll be granted the following rights:
- Bring your eligible family members to the UK
- Work in another job while you work for your own business
- Travel abroad and return to the United Kingdom without restrictions
What you can’t do with your startup visa in the UK:
- Get benefits such as public funds
- Work as a professional sportsperson
Note that start up visa doesn’t lead to indefinite leave to remain. However, at the end of the two years, you will be able to seek further leave to stay under the UK Innovator Visa category and continue to develop your company. After another three years, you may be eligible for settlement under the Innovator Visa route.
There you have it. We’ve given you an introduction to Start up Visa. Thanks to the opportunities the UK provides to young businessmen and entrepreneurs, a startup visa can be a good choice for you to thrive in your business.
Have you ever thought of living and working in the UK under a start up visa? Let us know…
Frequently Asked Questions on Start up Visa
1. What is start up visa UK?
Start up visa a category that grants residency to people who want to start a UK business.
2. How long is start up visa valid for?
It’s valid for two years. After it expires, start up visa holders can apply to switch to another visa category.
3. What are the main eligibility criteria to get accepted for a start up visa?
The main criteria are that your business idea is unique and endorsed by an approved endorsing body.
4. Are start up visas eligible for indefinite leave to remain?
No they don’t. But when your visa expires, you can switch to other UK visas that lead to indefinite leave to remain.
5. What are the financial requirements for start up visa applicants?
The only financial requirement is that start up visa applicants have at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account. There is no additional financial capacity proof necessary for this visa application.
5. Which endorsing body should approve my plan of business in the UK?
An endorsing body can be a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a track record of assisting UK entrepreneurs.