The UK Start Up Visa
In 2018, the UK Government made significant changes across the Tier 1 Visa routes.
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa for applicants with investment funds and a business plan has been changed to the Innovator Visa.
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa which was used by startups to enter the country has subsequently been amended and changed to the Tier 1 Start Up Visa.
As a result, the Start Up Visa route is catered to amateur yet highly ambitious and potential entrepreneurs who have a business plan and who wish to set up their first-ever company in the UK. It requires applicants to have an endorsement from a UK university or an approved business sponsor. The Home Office details legitimate endorsing bodies from which you can send your application.
Although this route is a type of entrepreneur visa, both graduates and non-graduates are invited to fulfil a visa application. In other words, you do not need to be a graduate entrepreneur to be eligible. However, if you already have a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, you may be able to switch or apply for a Tier 1 Start Up instead.
The key difference that sets the UK Start Up Visa apart from the Innovator immigration route is that you will not be required to have investment funds. Instead, you must be seeking to kick-start your career with a thorough and unique business plan in the UK. Your business idea must bring financial benefits and job opportunities that would bring profit into the UK economy.
The Start Up route is particularly favourable for those who consider themselves a prospective entrepreneur with a profitable business plan with a vision to remain in the UK. The route is set up for natural progression in the country as after you have lived in the UK as a Start Up/Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur for two years, you can then switch onto the Innovator Visa. From there, you are then able to move onto Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and thus British Citizenship shortly afterwards.
If you are a budding business person or are in a team of innovating entrepreneurs, it is vital you seek expert UK immigration advice to help you with your Start Up Visa UK application. As this is a category of Tier 1 visa which is only open to high-value individuals, the Home Office assesses each application with scrutiny. As such, it is of utmost importance you submit your application to the highest standard.
Speak to our client care team today to hear more about how our immigration lawyers in Manchester can advise you on your business plan and help you to meet the stringent Home Office requirements. Call us on 0161 826 9783 to arrange an appointment with an immigration lawyer.
The Start Up Visa requirements
In order to be eligible for a UK Start Up Visa, you must ensure you meet the requirements.
The requirements are as follows:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Meet the English Language requirement
- Meet the financial requirements
- Provide a business plan
- Receive an endorsement from a UK authorised body and have an Endorsement Letter to prove it
In addition, your business must be unique and your first-ever business in Britain.
To ensure you meet the terms and conditions of your endorsement, you are required to be in contact with your endorsing body at 6 month, 12 month and 24-month intervals.
The application process
The Start Up Visa application process is split into two key stages.
First, you are required to seek endorsement from higher education such as a UK university, or from a registered business sponsor. To do so, you are required to provide a developed business plan that coherently and concisely demonstrates your business idea, your strategies and the business’ projections for growth and revenue.
Once this step has been completed, you can then move on to the visa application.
Here at Manchester Immigration Lawyers, we can help you throughout the duration of your Start Up Visa Application. Our immigration lawyers are well versed in all areas of domestic, corporate and even international immigration law. Speak to our client care team today to hear about our custom-made Start Up Visa advice sessions and how we can maximise your chances of success on 0161 826 9783.
The financial requirements
The key difference that sets innovators and entrepreneurs apart in the Tier 1 category is the financial requirements.
For instance, whilst innovators must invest a certain amount of funds in the UK to be eligible, Start Up Visa applicants do not need to invest in order to satisfy the visa application.
However, there are still financial requirements to be met.
As a Start Up Visa applicant, you must ensure you can financially support yourself throughout the duration of your stay in the UK. This means you will require at least £945 in personal savings in your bank account that has been saved for a minimum of 90 days.
It is important to note that these maintenance funds will rise if you plan on bringing any dependents, such as children, with you to the UK.
The English language requirement
Most UK Visa applications require you to prove that you can communicate and write in English. This is no different for the UK Start Up Visa application.
If you originate from a non-English speaking country, you will be required to sit an English language test and achieve at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
Alternatively, if you have an academic qualification that was taught in English and has been recognised by UK NARIC, you may not need to sit the test.
You will need to make sure you submit evidence of your English ability within your visa application.
How to gain endorsement
As the Start Up Visa requirements dictate, you must receive an endorsement from an authorised UK agency.
Authorised agencies are only permitted to endorse a business plan that is brand new. This means that you cannot join or invest in a pre-existing business that is trading in the UK or overseas.
In addition, your business idea must be original and unique when compared to other businesses and companies on the market.
To be fully endorsed, your business plan must be able to demonstrate that it has the potential for growth.
Endorsement bodies can be universities, HEI endorsers, or business sponsors. The UK Government has a long list of authorised endorsing bodies that are permitted to endorse your application.
In order to be successful in your Start Up Visa application, you are required to submit a portfolio of supporting evidence.
The documents you will need to submit are:
- The endorsement letter you have received from an authorised UK body, demonstrating that there is support for your business in the UK
- Your business plan which must be thorough and describe your business idea and its potential for growth
- Your passport to verify your identity
- Bank statements to prove you meet the maintenance and financial requirements
- Your English language certificate or degree certificate that demonstrates your English capabilities
If any of the above documents are in a language other than English or Welsh, you will need to have them translated and certified.
Start Up Visa fees
The Home Office has designed visa fees per each type of visa category. There are rarely circumstances where you will be awarded a fee waiver for your application, but it is worth speaking to an immigration lawyer to see whether you could apply for one.
The general base fee for the Start Up Visa starts at £363. However, this is only applicable to applicants who are applying for their Tier 1 Start Up Visa from within the UK.
If you are applying from your home country (I.e. outside the UK), the admin fee to process your application is £493.
If you plan on bringing any dependents with you such as family members, you will need to pay an additional £363 (or £493 from abroad) per each dependant.
However, these costs are only for the visa itself. You will further need to pay to have your biometric information registered, the Immigration Health Surcharge, immigration lawyer fees and any additional costs such as Fast-Track or Super Priority services.
Extending the Start Up Visa
As this visa route is for new entrepreneurs in the UK, you are not able to renew or extend the Start Up Visa.
Your Start Up Visa will expire after 2 years. At the end of these two years, although you cannot extend your visa, you are able to switch onto a different immigration route.
You are eligible to switch onto a Tier 1 Innovator Visa instead, providing you can meet the requirements. If you progress onto this route from a Start Up Visa, the Innovator investor fees of £50,000 may also be waived.
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From the date you submit your application, it can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 8 weeks to receive a decision from UKVI. The Home Office combs through each application it receives, so any errors or discrepancies are likely to cause delays in the processing time.
If you require a faster verdict, you can apply for either the Priority or Super Priority Home Office service. To coordinate with this urgency, here at Manchester Immigration Lawyers, we also provide a Fast-Track application package. Here, your immigration lawyer will endeavour to meet you within 24-hours to fulfil your application to the highest standard and submit it on the same day.
As the Start Up Visa is only valid for a period of two years, this means you will not meet the minimum ‘continuous residency’ requirements to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Generally speaking, you will need to have lived in the UK continuously for at least five years to be eligible for this form of permanent settlement.
That being said, the Start Up Visa is designed so that you can streamline onto the subsequent Innovator Visa route. The Innovator route can last from two to three years, and you can extend or renew this visa.
Once you have accumulated 3 or 5 years in the UK, you can then check to see if you are eligible for ILR. After 12 months of ILR status, you can then seek to apply for British Citizenship.
If for whatever reason your endorsement from a UK agency has been withdrawn or cancelled, your visa will also be invalid.
It is of utmost urgency that you seek a professional to help you if this happens. You don’t want to risk being an overstayer in the UK or breaking the conditions of your immigration requirements.
It is likely that you will need to re-apply for the visa and for a fresh endorsement.
While in the UK under this form of temporary immigration status, you are prohibited from:
- Accessing public funds
- Working as a doctor or dentist in training
- Settling in the UK
- Working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach