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UK Start Up Visa

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Overview and Eligibility

The UK Start Up Visa is a new visa category that will replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa program.  Because of the endorsement requirement this visa may be difficult to come under at the moment.

You’re eligible for this visa if:

  • You are not an European Economic Area EEA or Switzerland citizen.
  • You want to set up a business in the UK*. To set up a business in Britain you must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

The Start-up Visa category is reserved for early-stage, high potential entrepreneurs starting a business in Britain for the first time.

The earliest that you can apply for a UK Start-up Visa is three months before you travel. It can take a minimum of three weeks to receive a decision on your visa application.

*Unlike the UK Innovator Visa, you do not need to invest funds initially. However, you must not have previously set up a business in the UK.

The UK Start-up Visa will replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Programme, which closes to new applicants on 6 July, 2019. New applications for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa will be accepted up until 5 July, 2019.

UK immigration rules published on 7 March, 2019 describe the Start-up Visa as: “An expanded version of the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme.”

Start-Up Visa Requirements

UK immigration rules specify the following, minimum requirements to be eligible for the Start-up Visa:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Your business or business idea must undergo an assessment by an approved body
  • You must meet English language requirements
  • You must provide evidence of personal savings to support yourself during your time in the UK

For more information about the requirements you need to meet to apply for a Start-up Visa, contact

Your stay in the UK

You can stay in the UK for two years on a Start-up Visa and you can bring family members, including a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18. You will spend the majority of your time in the UK developing your business, but you can work outside your business to support yourself.

There is no option to extend your Start-up Visa after two years, but you can switch to the Innovator Visa to extend your stay in the UK and develop your business. The Innovator Visa is valid for three years, with the option to extend when it is due to expire.

After five years, you could be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (UK settlement).

Applying for a UK Start Up Visa

You can only apply for the Start-up Visa, online**. In addition, you will need to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a UK visa application centre in the country from which you are applying. You must do this to get a biometric residence permit, which is needed as part of your Start-up Visa UK application.

**If you live in North Korea, you cannot apply online. Contact for more information on how to apply for the Start-up Visa.

To support your application, you must provide a business plan and supporting documents for endorsement. Most UK universities are endorsing bodies, along with the following business sponsors:

• The Bakery
• Bethnal Green Ventures
• Blue Orchid
• Capital Enterprise
• CyLon
• Deep Science Ventures
• DRS Business Solutions
• Emerge Education
• Emsworth Corporate Planning (ECP)
• First Corporate Finance
• Founders Factory
• Fortunis Capital Ltd
• Ignite
• Innovate Britain
• Innovator International (powered by Geminus)
• International Innovation Hub Ltd
• Invest Northern Ireland
• Kollider
• Level 39
• MedCity
• NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator
• Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator
• The Royal Society of Edinburgh
• Scottish EDGE
• Seedcamp
• SeedHaus
• SETsquared Bristol
• Startup Funding Club
• Tech Nation
• Techstars London
• Tech X
• Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator
• Wayra
• Zinc

Those endorsing your Start-up Visa application must be ‘reasonably satisfied that you will spend much of your working time in Britain developing your business venture,’ in accordance with UK immigration rules.

UK Immigration Health Surcharge

When you apply for a Start-up Visa, you will have to pay the UK Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 per year.

Further information, help, and advice’s team of specialists has 30 years of experience in visa services, helping thousands of people to study and work in the UK and other countries. We work with clients under Section 84 of the 1999 Immigration Act and can submit your UK visa application to the Home Office to be dealt with on the same day.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or email us at