What is the Start-up visa program?

Apply for a UK Start-up visa if you are trying to establish an original business in the country

Requirements for the Start-up visa program

In order to be eligible for the Start-up visa program you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have your business or business concept assessed by (and receive a letter of endorsement from) an approved body (this should be done prior to applying)
  • Demonstrate your capability to financially cover all your living expenses throughout your stay. This means that before you apply you must have the following in your bank account, at minimum:
  • £945, for 90 days in a row

Duration of stay

The Start-up visa program will allow you to remain in the country for 2 years. However, you may face problems with your UK Immigration status and your time in the country may be cut short in the event that your endorsement is withdrawn

When to apply

You should apply for the Start-up visa program around 3 months (not before) prior to your journey to the UK

Processing time

Applicants for the Start-up visa program from outside the country should receive a decision in around 3 weeks

Fees

The fees for the Start-up visa program are determined in part by the nature of your application and whether you are applying from inside or outside the country.

  • Fee for the Start-up visa program outside the UK:
  • If you are applying for yourself: £363
  • As a citizen of Macedonia or Turkey: £308
  • All family members (dependents): £363 (per person)
  • Fee to switch to the Start-up visa program from within in the UK:
  • If you are applying for yourself: £493
  • As a citizen of Macedonia or Turkey: £438
  • All family members (dependents): £493 (per person)
  • In addition to the above costs for UK Start-up visa immigration, those applying for the Start-up visa program will also be subject to the Healthcare surcharge. For more information on healthcare surcharge fees for Start-up visa program, click here.
  • There is also a fee for an expediated UK Start-up visa immigration. For more information about receiving quicker decision by paying an expediated fee, click here

Requirements

The requirements for the Start-up Visa program are outlined below. Those who are on a British Start-up visa are allowed to do the following:

  • Have family members (dependents) join you in the UK.
  • Work for your job
  • Work for a job that is separate from (i.e. in addition to) your main job

Those who are on Start-up visa program are NOT allowed to do the following:

  • Settle in the country
  • Receive public funds
  • Work as either a dentist or a doctor
  • Work as a professional athlete or as an athletics coach

Getting your business endorsed

  • One of the steps to getting into the Start-up visa program is receiving an endorsement  for your business from either a UK University or an institute of higher education or a business organization with a proven track record of extending support to entrepreneurs in the UK
  • In order to be endorsed, your business (or the concept for the business) must meet the following criteria:
  • Viable, and with the prospect of future expansion. 
  • Newness-your business must be an original business, you may not invest or become part of a business that is currently established or trading.
  • Innovative-your business (or business concept) must be original and unique from anything which currently exists in the UK business marketplace.
  • For more information about getting endorsed for the Start-up visa program, and for a full list of endorsing bodies, click here.

Withdrawn endorsement

In the event that your Start-up visa is withdrawn, the following will occur regarding your UK immigration:

  • Your visa time will likely be reduced
  • In order to stay in the country longer, you will have to reapply for a new endorsement (and a new visa)
  • In the event that you are granted a new visa (and a new endorsement) your time allowed in the UK will be limited to 2 years

Required Documents

The below documents are required for a British Start-up visa All documents not written in either English or Welsh must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please note that you may be asked to submit additional supporting documents UK Start-up visa Immigration.

  • An endorsement letter demonstrating proof of assessment of your business or business concept
  • A valid passport or other valid ID, with one blank page for your new visa
  • Proof that your bank account holds a minimum of £945 and has held that exact amount for at least 90 days in a row

The following may also be required for the Start-up visa program

  • Tuberculosis test results (if from a country where a TB is required)
  • Proof of English language competency

English Language requirements UK Start-up Visa Immigration

  • To complete their UK immigration process for the British Start-up visa, applicants who are not from the United States, Canada, or one of the following countries will need to provide evidence of having achieved a degree of English language fluency:
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The English requirement for UK Start-up Visa Immigration can be satisfied in one of two ways
  • Taking an approved English language test and receiving (at minimum) a CEFR level B2 grade in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • Having a degree from an English-language university or college that is considered by UK NARIC to be equal to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
  • Those who have already satisfied the English language requirement on a previous successful UK Immigration application do not need to again fulfill this requirement

Apply for a UK Start-up visa

  • Apply online, here
  • Go to a visa application center to have your biometric information taken. This is where you will have your fingerprints collected and your photo taken.
  • Pick up your biometric residence permit within 10 days of the date you gave as your arrival to the UK, even if your arrival is in fact later than the day you first provided.
  • Please note that the online option is closed to those applying from North Korea. If you are applying for a British Start-up visa from North Korea, you must apply by downloading application form and following its written in instructions, available here.
  • Expediated service may be available for this service at an additional cost

Extending a Start-up visa

You cannot extend a Start-up visa

Switching to the Start-up visa program

  • Eligibility
  • If you are capable of fulfilling all of the above requirements for the UK Start-up Visa Immigration and if you are already in the country legally on one of the following visas:
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur visa)
  • Please note that you do not need evidence that your business is an original concept with growth potential in order to switch from this visa to a Start-up
  • A Tier 2 visa
  • Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • Standard Visitor visa. As evidence you are seeking funding, you will need to supply a letter of support
  • Duration of stay for switched Start-up visas
  • A Start-up visa will allow you to remain in the country for 2 years
  • Please note that if you have already spent time in the country on a Tier 1 visa, that time will be subtracted from the 2 years granted to you under your duration of stay                                                      
  • How to apply for a visa switch
  • Apply online, here
  • Attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, where you will:
  • Supply the required fingerprints and photos (biometric information)
  • Supply the required/supplemental documents (either in person at your appointment or by uploading them online)
  • Remain inside the UK (including the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and Ireland) while you await the decision on your extension. Those who travel outside of the UK while their application for an extension is pending will have their application cancelled

Processing Time

The processing time for switching is generally 8 weeks, although it can take longer depending on the following:

  • You are called to appear at an in-person interview
  • Your application materials require additional verification
  • You have been arrested or are facing other relevant personal issues
  • Please note so long as your application was submitted prior to the expiration of your previous visa, you may remain in the UK while your application is being processed

Family Members

Family members can accompany you on your British Start-up visa and complete UK immigration, however they will each need a visa unless they are from either Switzerland or the European Economic Area (EEA).

  • Family members are classified as dependents, which are any of the following:
  • Your partner
  • Your child:
  • Under 18 years old
  • Over 18 years old, but only if they are already a dependent in the UK.
  • Family Savings

You must demonstrate your ability to support yourself and your dependents throughout the stay in the UK, through the following:

  • Providing proof that you have at least £630 per dependent 
  • It is not enough to have this money in your bank account. You must also establish that your bank account (or that of your dependent) has held these funds for a minimum of 90 days prior to any visa application being lodged 
  • Please note, dependent funds are in addition to the £945 you must possess in order to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself throughout your stay.
  • For example, if you are trying to bring three family members with you to the UK on your Start-up visa (your wife and two children) you must demonstrate your possession of funds in the amount of: £2655 (at a cost of 630 per each dependent, for 3 dependents, plus £945).
  • How to apply as a dependent (if applying from outside the UK):
  • Apply online, here
  • Go to a visa application center to have your biometric information taken. This is where you will have your fingerprints collected and your photo taken for

UK immigration purposes

  • Pick up your biometric residence permit within 10 days of the date you gave as your arrival to the UK, even if your arrival is in fact later than the day you first provided.
  • Please note that the option of applying as a dependent of someone on a Start-up visa from outside of the UK is only available to dependents under the age of 18. If you are over 18 but in the UK on a dependent visa, you must remain in the country in order to apply.   
  • Please note that the online option is closed to dependents applying from North            Korea. If you are applying as a dependent from North Korea, you must apply by downloading application form and following its written in instructions, available here. Please note that each NK dependent must fill out a separate application

If you are a dependent applying on your own (in the UK)

  • Family members who are already in the UK may submit an application to switch to being  dependent of someone on a Start-up visa program, so long as they are not in the county on visitor’s visa
  • Apply as a dependent partner online here
  • Apply as a dependent child online here
  • How to apply
  • Apply online, here
  • Attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, where you will:
  • Supply the required fingerprints and photos (biometric information)
  • Supply the required/supplemental documents (either in person at your        appointment or by uploading them online)
  • Remain inside the UK (including the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and Ireland) while you await the decision on your extension. Those who travel outside of the UK while their application for an extension is pending will have their application cancelled.  
  • For UK born dependents
  • Children who are born to you while you are in the country can be added to your Start-up visa in order for them to be allowed to enter and exit the country
  • You can apply online by filling out the form and providing the birth certificate of the UK born child, which should also have the names of his or her parent’s

Processing time for dependents

The processing time for switching as a dependent into the Start-up visa category is generally 8 weeks, although it can take longer depending on the following:

  • You are called to appear at an in-person interview
  • Your application materials require additional verification
  • You have been arrested or are facing other relevant personal issues
  • Please note so long as your application was submitted prior to the expiration of your previous visa, you may remain in the UK while your application is being processed

More info:

For more information on making a UK business investment through a business visa for uk, click here.

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