Not everyone who enters the United Kingdom on a certain UK immigration visa remains in the country on that same visa they used for entry purposes. Some foreigners, particularly those on UK business visas, find themselves wanting to switch from one visa category into another at some point over the years as their circumstances change. If you are currently in the country on one type of valid UK visa, you may be interested in making the switch to a Start-up visa. Relevant for individuals who are looking to set up a business in the country, the UK Start-up visa is available to men and women who meet the investment funds requirement for a Start-up visa, as well as other eligibility terms and conditions. Read on for more information about how to apply to change to a Start-up visa. Additionally, this blog will also cover topics including who cannot apply to switch to Start-up visa, the process for obtaining a Start-up visa endorsement, and the Start-up visa validity period. 

UK Start-up Visa

  • The Start-up visa is a kind of UK business visa available to eligible applicants who seek to establish a company/business in the country. 
  • In order to be eligible for the UK Start up visa, you should apply to establish a business that is both dynamic and new to the UK business scene. 
  • Obtaining a Start-up visa endorsement is another major pre-requisite for a Startup visa. You can access a list of official UK endorsing bodies through this link.
  • As well as fulfilling conditions related to the nature of your business, eligible applicants must also meet additional personal and financial requirements. 
  • The Start-up visa validity period is two years, however, if you are switching into the start-up visa category from a Graduate Entrepreneur visa, however long you lived in the UK while on your original Tier 1 visa will be subtracted from the two years you get on the Start-up.  
  • Any family members who seek to make the switch into the Start-up visa category as your dependents will have to individually lodge separate applications. Please keep in mind that applying for a Start-up visa as part of a team is not the same thing as applying for a dependent visa for family members. 
  • All applications must be written in either English or Welsh, and any documents you provide must be accompanied by an official translation into one of those two languages, if they are not already in them originally. 
  • Please note, if you are applying for a Start-up visa as part of a team (i.e. trying to switch into the Start-up visa category as part of a team, each team member who seeks to make the switch must lodge an individual application. 

How to apply to change to a Start-up Visa

  • 1. Check your eligibility status
    • Before you apply to switch to a Start-up visa, make sure that you are eligible. 
    • Eligible candidates are those who fulfill the specific English language requirement and have reached age 18 by the time they apply. In addition, applicants must meet the investment funds requirement for a Start-up visa (i.e. provide evidence of their ability to financially support themselves). 
    • Keep in mind who cannot apply to switch to Start-up visa—not everyone who is legally in the country on a UK visa is eligible to switch to a Start-up visa.
    • If one of the below categories of visa holders or persons describes you, you will likely have to exit the country and apply for a new UK Start-up visa in order to enter the UK on a Start-up visa (rather than switch into the category): 
      • Student visa (short term)
      • Visitor’s visa 
      • Seasonal worker visa 
      • Domestic worker in a private household visa 
      • Parent of a Child Student visa 
      • If you have: 
        • Obtained permission outside of the immigration rules. 
        • Are currently on immigration detention bail. 
  • 2. Gather your required documents
    • Current passport.
    • Evidence that you meet the English language requirement.
    • Proof of a negative Tuberculosis test (depending on what country you are applying from).
    • Evidence that you fulfill the financial requirements:  
      • If you are applying to switch into the UK Start up visa category, and you have been in the country for over a year, you will not need to show evidence of possessing certain funds in order to be considered eligible for the visa. 
      • However, if you are looking to switch and you have spent under 12 months in the country, you will have to provide evidence that you can afford your cost of living. 
      • Applicants can meet this requirement by providing documents proving that their bank account holds a minimum of £1270, and that the money has been there for a minimum of 28 days in a row (meaning that you cannot simply have someone transfer funds into your account the day you submit your application—they have to have been there for at least 28 days). 
  • 3. Access the online application form
    • Contact us to help you with your application to switch to the Start-up visa.
  • 4. Pay the visa fee
    • The basic application fee for switching to a Start-up visa from within the UK (which is where you will automatically be applying from if you are switching into the start-up category) is £493. 
    • If you seek to make the switch with family members, keep in mind that the cost to switch is £493 per dependent (spouse/child). 
    • Please keep in mind that the application fees do not take into account the funds you must acquire and demonstrate possession of in order to prove your ability to afford your costs of living in the UK (as detailed above). 
  • 5. Provide evidence of your identity
    • Applicants will be asked to provide evidence of who they are. They can do this by having their biometric information (photo and fingerprints) collected at a visa application center OR uploading their British identity document via the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. 
    • You should learn about which option to pursue at some point during your application process. 
  • 6. Await a decision
    • The processing time for applications for switching into the Startup visa category is typically 21 days (three weeks). 
    • However, the processing time could take longer depending on the nature of your application (i.e. whether it is complete, and whether UK immigration asks you to come in for an interview). 
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