What is the Purpose of the Startup Visa Route?
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 is for those setting up an innovative business for the first time. Individuals require support from an Endorsing Body, before applying, which must have assessed the business idea as being innovative, viable and scalable.
An applicant does not need to be a graduate or secure any initial funding. Moreover, 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.
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.
The Start-up route is for a person seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time.
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 and may need to work to support themselves while developing their business ideas.
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.
UK Start up Visa Application Requirements 2021
An adult above 18 years person can apply for a UK startup visa if:
- he/she wants to establish and operate an innovative business in the UK. However, the business be different from any other business in the market. Accordingly, the applicant needs to demonstrate that the business idea is:
- an approved endorsing body endorses the business or business idea. Accordingly, the applicant needs to have an Endorsement Letter from:
- a UK higher education institution
- a business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs
- the applicant meets the English Language requirements of CEFR Level B2
- he/she has at least £1,270 Savings in the bank account for 28 consecutive days to support himself/herself in the UK
Please note, if the applicant has, in the 12 months preceding the application date, received an 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.
|Individuals or Teams||Yes|
|English Language (CEFR Level B2)||Yes|
|Application Fee (£363 or £493)||Yes|
|Immigration Skills Charge||No|
|Immigration Health Surcharge||Yes|
|Maintenance (Min £1,270)||Yes|
|Switching – routes (in country)||Yes|
|Route to settlement||No|
|Dependants (Spouse and Children)||Yes|
|Access to public funds||No|
3. Supporting Documents
UK Startup Visa Application Supporting Documents Guidance
An applicant applying for UK start up visa application needs to provide:
- 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 he/she is 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
- an ‘endorsement letter’ from an approved endorsing body demonstrating the assessment of the business or business idea
- 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
- the proof of meeting the English language requirements CEFR Level B2
- 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
- certified translation of all the documents that are not in English or Welsh
- any additional documents depending on the circumstances of the applicant
What are the UK Startup Visa Points Requirements?
For successfully applying for UK startup visa application, an applicant needs to have 70 points.
|Requirement (mandatory)||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|
|Total number of points required||70|
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Business is innovator, viable and scalable – 25 Points
The applicant must have an innovative, viable and scalable business venture. Accordingly, the applicant needs:
- to have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage; and
- realistic and achievable business plan on the basis of an applicant’s available resources; and
- to actively develop the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business; and
- to have evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets
The applicant has not previously established a business in the UK – 25 Points
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:
- 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.
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 his/her own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body.
UK Startup visa financial requirements – 10 Points
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 needs 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).
UK Startup visa English Language Requirements – 10 Points
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 evidence to prove the English language requirement:
- A national of a majority English speaking country
- 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
- Applicant passing a Secure English Language Test
- 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
UK Startup Visa Endorsement Letter Requirements
The applicant must be a genuine start up applicant and accordingly needs to provide an endorsement letter issued by an approved endorsing body no more than 3 months before the date of UK startup visa application and the endorsing body has not withdrawal the endorsement. Accordingly, a start up visa applicant needs to provide an endorsement letter from their endorsing body which includes all the following information:
- the name of the endorsing body
- endorsement reference number
- 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
- date of endorsement; and
- the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport or other travel document number
- a short description of the applicant’s business venture and the main products or services it will provide to its customers
- confirmation that in the view of the endorsing body the applicant’s business is innovative, viable and scalable
- confirmation that the endorsing body is satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing their business venture
- 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
- confirmation the endorsing body is satisfied that the applicant has created and is relying on their own business plan
UK Startup Visa Endorsement Letter Covid-19 Concession
If your endorsement from an endorsing body has expired because you are not able to travel to the UK then may still be eligible for a UK start-up visa. Nevertheless, the Home Office/UKVI may consider such applications on a case by case basis. Moreover, a start up migrant may be eligible for Exceptional Assurance and Covid Visa Concession Scheme.
What is UK Start up Visa Assessment Procedure?
Before considering a start-up visa application, the immigration office checks that
- the application is valid
- applicant’s passport or travel document is genuine
- application and biometric information are registered and verified
A Valid Start-up Visa Application
In order for a UK start-up visa application to be valid the applicant must:
- paid the relevant Fees for this type of application
- provided their biometrics
- paid the Immigration Health Charge for the relevant period (this will normally be full 2 years, unless they have already spent time in the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) routes)
- have provided a passport or other document that establishes their identity and nationality
- have been issued with an Endorsement Letter from an endorsing body for the Start-up route, dated no more than 3 months before the date of the application
- the endorsement must not have been withdrawn by the endorsing body
A person applying for permission to stay on the start up visa route must be in the UK and must not have, or have last been granted, permission as a:
- Visitor; or
- Short-term Student; or
- Parent of a Child Student; or
- Seasonal Worker; or
- domestic worker in a private household; or
- outside the Immigration Rules
An applicant aged 18 or over on the date of application
Students on Funded Scholarship
If the applicant held permission as a student and was sponsored for their fees and living costs in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency, and the sponsorship is ongoing or was last awarded less than 12 months before the date of application the applicant must:
- have been granted written consent to make the application by their sponsoring government or agency
- provide a letter from each sponsoring organisation confirming this
The letter must be issued by an authorised individual of that organisation and contain contact details which allow it to be verified
Checking Validity of the Endorsement Letter
The decision maker checks the validity of UK start up visa Endorsement Letter by contacting the start-up route inbox stating the:
- name of the applicant
- secure reference number
- name of the endorsing body
- contact name on the endorsement letter
Assessment of the Start-up Visa Business Criteria
The Endorsing body who are supporting the applicant’s application needs to state in the endorsement letter that they are satisfied that the applicant meets business innovation, viability and scalability Criteria required for UK start-up visa application. However, if the decision maker has doubts that the applicant meets this requirement, such as where it is unclear that the applicant has the relevant knowledge or skills to carry out business plan or it is unclear how the applicant’s proposed business meets a market need or creates a competitive advantage, then will only award points if the decision maker is satisfied that the applicant meets the requirement. If there is insufficient information to reach a decision then the decision maker can request further information from the applicant to support the claim.
UK Start-up Visa Financial Requirements Assessment
To verify an applicant’s Finances, the decision maker assesses that either
- the applicant has personal savings (in line with the appropriate levels of funding required) held for a consecutive 28 day period (finishing on the date of the closing balance on the statement), ending no more than 31 days before the date of the start-up visa application; or
- the endorsing body confirms in the Endorsement Letter that it has awarded the appropriate amount of maintenance funding to the applicant
If the funds are in a currency other than pounds sterling then the decision maker uses the exchange rates (on the date of the application) published on the OANDA website to convert the amount.
Please note, a person coming to the UK on the Tier 1 start up visa needs to apply for and obtain entry clearance before arrival.
What are UK Start up Visa Suitability Requirements?
An applicant applying for UK start-up visa must not fall for refusal under Part 9: grounds for refusal. Moreover, if the applicant is applying for permission to stay then must not be:
- in breach of immigration laws, except that where paragraph 39E applies, that period of overstaying will be disregarded; or
- on immigration bail
UK Start up visa Application Form Requirements
An applicant applying for the Tier 1 start up visa needs to submit an online application on the gov.uk website on the following specified forms:
|EEA national with a chipped passport||Either:|
|– Start-up or Innovator using the UK Immigration: ID Check app (when available); or|
|– the forms listed below for applicants outside or inside the UK (as relevant)|
|EEA national with a chipped passport (Dependant Family Member)||Either:|
|– Dependant partner or dependant child using the UK Immigration: ID Check app; or|
|– the forms listed below for dependant applicants outside or inside the UK as relevant.|
|Applicants outside the UK||Start-up or Innovator visa|
|Applicants inside the UK||Start-up or Innovator permission to stay|
|If the dependant is applying at the same time as the main applicant then can be included in the form “Start-Up or Innovator permission to stay” where the form allows dependants to be added.|
|– Dependant partner|
|– Dependant child|
UK Startup Visa Application Fees 2021
An applicant for entry clearance or permission to stay on the Tier 1 start up visa needs to pay the application fee and Immigration Health Charge. Moreover, needs to provide the biometrics and a passport or other travel document to establish identity and nationality. From Jan 31, 2021, the UK startup visa fees for entry clearance and leave to remain applications will be £363 and £493, respectively. If eligible the main applicant can also avail a Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) discount of £55.
What is the UK Startup Visa Processing Time 2021?
The service standard is to process 90%, 98% and 100% of UK start-up visa applications within 15, 30 and 60 working days. Therefore, the UK visa processing time after biometrics for start-up entry clearance applications is usually 10-30 working days. If the priority service is available at the application centre (VAC) for start up entry clearance visa then an applicant can fast track application processing time within 5-working days (1 week).
The UK start-up visa leave to remain (extension or switching) processing time after biometrics is normally within 8 weeks (or 40 working days). A migrant may be able to use the priority and super-priority (aka premium service) to decide leave to remain applications within 5 and 1-working day, respectively.
Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP)
Successful applicants for entry clearance are given a Biometric residence permit (BRP). If the entry clearance application is successful then applicants have a 30-day start-up visa to allow them to collect their BRP after they have arrived in the UK.
BRP Covid-19 Concession for Start-up Visa
However, if a migrant on start-up visa arrives in the UK then will not be penalized for unable to collect the biometric residence permit (BRP) while coronavirus measures are in place.
For latest updates please refer to UK Visa Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance
What is the Duration of UK Start-up Visa?
The length of leave for initial applications under the UK start-up visa is 2 years. The duration of extension is also 2 years, minus the time already granted in Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Startup categories. Therefore, if a migrant has already spent the maximum 2-year time on the UK start-up visa, then any further application will be refused. However, an applicant can switch from start-up to innovator category of Appendix W. Therefore, a migrant on UK start-up visa cannot directly apply for an indefinite leave to remain (ILR aka settlement). However, a migrant has an option of switching to the innovator route.
UK Start-up Visa Extension 12-Months Covid-19 Concessions
If a migrant is in the UK on Start-up visa route and his/her business has been disrupted due to Covid-19 then can apply for additional leave of 12-months. Accordingly, this will allow the start-up migrant to go beyond the normal maximum 2-year period so he/she can continue developing business against the agreed business plan.
Nevertheless, the migrant needs to meet the requirements of the UK start-up visa route as normal such as endorsement by an endorsing body. Therefore, the endorsing body needs to assess the business and be satisfied that reasonable progress has been made, taking into consideration the impact of coronavirus and that the business remains viable. Accordingly, the UK start-up visa endorsing body must provide an Endorsement Letter. The endorsement letter needs to state that it is a UK start up visa application for a temporary extension due to coronavirus pandemic.
What are the requirements for Family Members?
A person applying as a dependent partner must be aged 18 or over on the date of application. The applicant must be the partner of a person, who has permission on the UK startup visa route; or at the same time, applying for (and is granted) permission on the Start-up route. However, if the applicant and the Start-up partner are not married or in a civil partnership then needs to meet all of the following requirements:
- they must have been living together in a relationship similar to marriage or civil partnership for at least the 2 years before the date of application; and
- any previous relationship of the applicant or their Start-up partner with another person must have permanently broken down; and
- the applicant and their UK startup visa partner must not be so closely related that they would not be allowed to marry or form a civil partnership in the UK
Furthermore, the relationship between the applicant and their Start-up partner must be genuine and subsisting. The applicant and their Start-up partner must intend to live together throughout the applicant’s stay in the UK.
The applicant needs to be the child of a person, who has permission on the Start-up route; or at the same time, applying for (and is granted) entry clearance or permission on the Start-up route. Moreover, the applicant’s parents must each be either applying at the same time as the applicant, or be present in the UK with permission (other than as a visitor) unless:
- the parent applying for or with permission on the UK startup visa route is the sole surviving parent; or
- the parent applying for with permission on Start-up route has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing; or
- the decision maker is satisfied that there are serious and compelling reasons to grant the child permission to come to, or stay in, the UK with the parent who has permission on the Start-up route
If the applicant is under the age of 18 on the date of application then there must be suitable arrangements for the child’s care and accommodation in the UK, which must comply with relevant UK legislation and regulations.
The child must be under the age of 18 at the date of application, unless they were last granted permission as the dependent child of their parent or parents. If the applicant is aged 16 or over at the date of application, they must not be leading an independent life.
What are the Conditions of Stay for start-up migrants?
A migrant on the startup visa route in the UK is subject to the following conditions:
- no access to public funds; and
- work (including self-employment and voluntary work) permitted except for employment as a professional sportsperson, including as a sports coach
- study is permitted, subject to the ATAS condition in Appendix ATAS; and
- if Part 10 applies the applicant will be required to register with the police
If the migrant breaches the conditions of stay in the UK then the Home Office will curtail the leave with a re-entry ban and cancel the visa.
8. Success Rate
UK Startup Visa Success and Refusal Rate
So far, since 2019 (i.e. from 2019 Q2 to 2020 Q3), 572 applications resolved and 546 UK startup visas granted. Moreover, 20 applications rejected, 6 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/ Quarter||Decisions||Success Rate|
Start-up Leave to Remain (Extension or Switching) Success Rate
So far, since 2019 (i.e. from 2019 Q2 to 2020 Q3), 1,178 start-up leave to remain (extension or switching) applications resolved and 32 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/ Quarter||Decisions||Success Rate|
UK Start-up Visa Rejection
If an applicant has not demonstrated that they have met a requirement which could be addressed, such as where they have not paid the IHC for the required period, the decision maker normally writes out and allows the applicant an opportunity to address this. If the application fails on the basis of something that cannot be addressed such as age or current immigration status or where the decision maker has requested missing information and had not received this within the time given then normally rejects the UK start-up visa application.
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.
Cancellation of Start-up Migrant’s Leave to Remain in the UK
The Home Office can cancel a migrant’s permission in the start-up route if the institution that endorsed the application for the current grant of permission:
- loses its status as an endorsing institution for Start-up migrants
- withdraws the migrant’s endorsement
The Home Office can also cancel permission for other reasons. For instance, if the migrant has committed a serious offence or breaches the conditions of stay in the UK. Accordingly, the Home Office can deport the migrant with a re-entry ban.
- Home Office Immigration and Nationality Charges
- Tier 2 General Skilled Worker Visa Requirements
- Business Visitor Visa Requirements
- A Complete Guide to UK Visa and Immigration Statistics
- A Guide to US Visa Approval and Rejection Rate by Country
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Policy Guidance after March 29, 2019
- A Guide to UK Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa Requirements