Start-up Visa UK Guidance and Requirements 2022

This relates to UK start-up visa application guidance and requirements 2022. To apply for UK start-up visa (aka tier 1 startup or London startup visa), an applicant needs to have an endorsement letter, B2 level of IELTS or equivalent for proving English language ability and at least £1,270 for maintenance funds. The UK start-up visa is for those setting up an innovative business for the first time. The approved Endorsing Bodies assess the Business Plan for the start-up visa UK. If the endorsing body is satisfied that the Commercial Idea presented in the Business Plan is new, innovative, viable, and scalable then issues the Endorsement Letter for applying start-up visa UK. For start-up visa application there is no requirement of graduation or securing any initial funding.

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Start-up Visa UK Guidance and Requirements 2022

The British Government has designed start-up visa to attract entrepreneurial talent and innovative, scalable business ideas to the UK. The Home Office launched the startup visa route in March 2019 for individuals looking to set up an innovative business in the UK.

Start-up Visa UK Vs. Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

The UK start-up visa has commenced from March 29, 2019. Startup had replaced Tier-1 Graduate Entrepreneur route from July 6, 2019. Therefore, the UK startup visa is also erroneously known as UK business startup, start-up entrepreneur, Tier 1 start-up, and London startup visa.

Unlike Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, for start-up visa there is no requirement of graduation or securing any initial funding. A successful applicant may get up to 2-year leave, instead of 1-year under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route. Indeed, the start-up is not a route to settlement. Accordingly, a person may be eligible to progress from UK Start-up visa to the innovator visa, which is a route to settlement.

The Start-up route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time.

Immigration Rules Appendix Start-up

UK Start up Visa Application Requirements 2022

A person can apply for a start-up visa UK if they:

  1. want to establish and operate an innovative business in the UK, which should be different from any other business in the market and the business idea is for a:
    • New Business as the applicant cannot join an already trading business
    • Innovative Business, which is original and different from any other business in the market
    • Viable Business with a potential for growth
  2. can get endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body for start-up business or business idea
  3. meet the English Language requirements of CEFR Level B2
  4. have at least £1,270 Savings in the bank account for 28 consecutive days to support themselves in the UK

Please note, if the applicant has, in the 12 months preceding the start-up visa application date, received any award from a government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK then needs to provide a written consent from that Government or agency.

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UK Start-up Visa Requirements 2021

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    70-Points Requirements for Start-up Visa UK

    For successfully applying for UK startup visa application, an applicant needs to have seventy points.

    Requirement Points Available
    Business is innovative, viable and scalable. 25
    The applicant has not previously established a business in the UK 25
    English Language at level B2 10
    Financial requirement 10
    Total 70

    Innovative, Viable and Scalable Business

    For start-up visa applications, the business venture should be innovative, viable and scalable business venture. Accordingly, the applicant needs to have a genuine and original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage. The targets of start-up business plan should be realistic and achievable by applicant’s available resources. The start-up business plan should also explain how the migrant will actively develop the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to successfully run the business in the UK. Moreover, the business plan should provide evidence of structured planning, potential for job creation, and growth into national and international markets.

    No Previous Business in the UK

    The applicant must not have previously established any business in the UK which commenced trading, unless this business commenced trading during the applicant’s last period of permission and that permission was for any of the following routes:

    • Start-up
    • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
    • Student on the doctorate extension scheme

    Where an applicant has established a business in the UK and did not hold permission to stay in the any of the above routes you must consider whether this business commenced trading, such as whether they have made a sale or provided services, regardless of whether payment has been received for this. There are a number of reasons why an individual may choose to register their business ahead of commencing trading such as to secure intellectual property such as the name of the business.

    Financial Requirements

    If the applicant is applying for permission to stay and has been in the UK with permission for 12 months or longer on the date of application, then automatically meets the UK startup visa financial requirements. Therefore, in such instances, an applicant does not need to show funds for maintenance in the UK.

    However, if an applicant is applying for entry clearance, or has been living in the UK for less than 12 months at the date of application, then the applicant or Start-up partner/parent needs to funds of at least:

    • £1,270 for the main applicant; and
    • £285 for a dependent partner; and
    • £315 for the first child; and
    • £200 for each additional child

    The required level of funds must have been held for a 28-day period and as set out in Appendix Finance. Moreover, acceptable finances need to be in the form of cash funds held in an account (this includes savings accounts and current accounts, even when notice must be given).

    English Language (IELTS) Requirements for Start-up Visa UK

    The applicant must show English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) of at least level B2. Moreover, the applicant must show they meet the English language requirement as specified in Appendix English Language. Accordingly, the applicant needs to provide one of the following types of evidence to prove the English language requirement:

    1. A national of a majority English speaking country
    2. The degree taught in English – applicant needs to provide UK NARIC certificate confirming the qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a bachelor’s degree in the UK
    3. Applicant passing a Secure English Language Test
    4. The applicant met the requirement in a previous successful application for:
      • Start-up, Innovator, Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
      • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012
      • Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned on or after 21 April 2011

    IELTS Requirements for Start-up Visa UK

    For start-up visa UK, if an applicant has skills equivalent to CEFR level B2 for English language in speaking and listening, then can meet the English Language requirements. Therefore, for UK startup visa IELTS requirements is 5.5-6.5 Band Score, which is equivalent to CEFR Level B2. Please note, according to the official CEFR guidelines, the B2 CEFR Level is for Competent Elementary users in English, who can:

    • understand the main ideas of a complex text such as a technical piece related to their field
    • spontaneously interact without too much strain for either the learner or the native speaker
    • produce a detailed text on a wide range of subjects

    UK Startup Visa Endorsement Letter Requirements

    For start-up visa applicants need to provide an endorsement letter issued by an approved endorsing body, which should include all the following information:

    1. the name of the endorsing body
    2. endorsement reference number
    3. the name, telephone number, email, and workplace address of a person at the endorsing body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested
    4. date of endorsement; and
    5. the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport or other travel document number
    6. a brief description of the applicant’s business venture and the main products or services it will provide to its customers
    7. confirmation that in the view of the endorsing body the applicant’s business is innovative, viable and scalable
    8. confirmation that the endorsing body is satisfied that the applicant will spend most of their working time in the UK on developing their business venture
    9. evidence/confirmation that the endorsing body is satisfied the applicant is either the sole founder of the business or an instrumental member of the founding team
    10. confirmation the endorsing body is satisfied that the applicant has created and is relying on their own business plan

    Please note, the letter should not be issued more than 3 months before application date and the endorsing body has not withdrawn the endorsement for start-up visa UK. Moreover, Multiple Start-up migrants can apply for endorsement to be co-directors of the same company. However, these are not linked as ‘team’ applications and each applicant needs to receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body.

    Supporting Documents

    An applicant applying for UK start up visa application needs to provide:

    1.  a valid passport or other document for demonstrating an applicant’s identity and nationality, with a blank page in the passport for the UK startup visa vignette if they are from:
      • outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein
      • the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with a chip in it
    2. an ‘endorsement letter’ from an approved endorsing body demonstrating the assessment of the business or business idea
    3. bank statements to show at least £1,270 in savings (maintenance funds) in the bank account for 28 consecutive days before the application date.  However, if the applicant is applying the UK startup visa with dependent family members, then needs addition maintenance funds:
      • £285 for partner
      • £315 for one child
      • £200 for each additional child
    4. the proof of meeting the English language requirements CEFR Level B2
    5. tuberculosis test results as per paragraph A39 and Appendix T of the Immigration Rules if the applicant is from a country where he/she needs to take the TB test
    6. certified translation of all the documents that are not in English or Welsh
    7. any additional documents depending on the circumstances of the applicant
    Start-up Visa UK

    FAQs

    Who can apply for the UK Start-up Visa?

    The start-up visa route is open to both EU and non-EU citizens. Applicants can apply as individuals or teams. Moreover, the start-up route is for those setting up a business for the first time. Therefore, start-up migrants may need to work to support themselves while developing their business ideas. A migrant on start-up route in the UK can study, subject to the ATAS condition in Appendix ATAS. 

    The duration of start-up visa is 2 years, minus the time already granted in Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or startup category. If a person has already spent the maximum 2-year time as a start-up migrant, then need to switch from start-up to innovator or any other route.

    Who are the Endorsing Bodies for Start-up Visa UK?

    Each applicant for start-up must have the support of an approved Endorsing Body. Endorsing Bodies are either Higher Education Providers or business organisations who have a track record of supporting UK based entrepreneurs and the support of a Government Department. Endorsing Bodies assess each application to ensure it is innovative, viable and scalable, and are responsible for monitoring the progress of the businesses they endorse.

    To deliver and ensure an improved service to startup visa applicants, the Home Office has partnered with some of the UK’s leading business development experts. Therefore, it is the Endorsing Body, rather than the Home Office, who assesses an applicant’s business idea.

    Please note in terms of the statement of changes, the UK start-up visa has commenced from March 29, 2019.

    Is there any Cap on Start-up Visa UK?

    There is no cap on the startup visa route. The UK Government is actively promoting the startup visa route to attract talented entrepreneurs as it enhances the UK’s visa offer to leading international business talent and maintains UK position as a top destination for innovation and entrepreneurs. In the future, the British Government intends to expand coverage of the route to more sectors and businesses.

    How much is the UK Start-up Visa Fees?

    From April 6, 2022, the start-up visa UK fees are £378 for main applicant and dependants. If eligible the main applicant can also avail a Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) discount of £55.

    What is the UK Start-up Visa Processing Time after Biometrics?

    From outside the UK, the service standard is to process 90%, 98% and 100% of start-up visa applications within 15, 30 and 60 working days. Therefore, the UK visa processing time after biometrics for start-up applications is usually within 3-weeks. From inside the UK, the start-up visa processing time after biometrics is normally within 8 weeks (or 40 working days). To expedite processing time applicants may also use the priority or super-priority service from inside and outside the UK.

    What to do if the UK Start up visa is refused?

    After the Tier 1 start up visa application refusal an applicant can reapply or file an administrative review. Please note there is no right of appeal against the refusal of start-up visa. However, an applicant can file an immigration judicial review after an unsuccessful administrative review. If an applicant used false documents or misrepresented fact, then can get 10-year deception ban.

    What is the UK Startup Visa Success Rate?

    So far, since 2019 (i.e. from 2019 Q2 to 2020 Q3), 572 applications resolved, and 546 UK startup visas granted. Moreover, twenty applications rejected, six applications withdrawn, and no application lapsed. Therefore, the UK startup entry clearance visa success and refusal rate are 95.45% and 3.66%, respectively. The UK start-up visa success rate in 2019 and 2020 is 93.17% and 97.21%, respectively.

    Year/ QuarterSuccess Rate
    201993.17%
    2019 Q289.29%
    2019 Q397.85%
    2019 Q490.63%
    202097.21%
    2020 Q197.70%
    2020 Q2100%
    2020 Q396.21%
    Total95.45%

    Start-up Visa UK Extension or Switching Success Rate

    So far, since 2019 (i.e. from 2019 Q2 to 2020 Q3), 1,178 start-ups leave to remain (extension or switching) applications resolved and thirty-two applications rejected. Therefore, the start-up leave to remain applications success and refusal rate are 97.28% and 2.72%, respectively. The start-up leave to remain success rate in 2019 and 2020 is 96.23% and 98.07%, respectively.

    Year/ QuarterSuccess Rate
    201996.23%
    2019 Q296.00%
    2019 Q394.48%
    2019 Q497.09%
    202098.07%
    2020 Q197.87%
    2020 Q2100.00%
    2020 Q398.20%
    Total97.28%