Immigration Specialists London

The Ultimate Guide to Start Up Visa UK for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: The Start Up Visa UK, has been a cornerstone of entrepreneurial migration. This guide provides an exhaustive overview of what was the UK Startup Visa, detailing requirements, application procedures, and success strategies for launching your business. Notably, as of July 13, 2023, the Start Up Visa route has transitioned to the Innovator Founder Visa UK, marking a new chapter for entrepreneurial entry into the UK.

Start up Visa UK Guidance and Requirements

1. Comprehensive Overview of the UK Startup Visa

The UK Startup Visa, launched in 2019 as a replacement for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route, is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs from around the globe. This visa creates a streamlined pathway for international entrepreneurs with high-potential business ideas, enabling them to establish or expand their ventures in the UK’s innovative and robust business environment. It plays a pivotal role in stimulating the UK’s economy, encouraging job creation, and enhancing global competitiveness by attracting and nurturing entrepreneurial talent.

Key Features and Purpose of the UK Startup Visa

  • Aims:
    • To foster promising startups, contribute to economic growth, and maintain the UK’s status as a global innovation hub.
  • Target Group:
    • Ambitious individuals with innovative, viable, and scalable business proposals.

Eligibility Requirements for the UK Startup Visa in 2023

To be eligible for the UK Startup Visa, applicants must satisfy several criteria:

  • Endorsement from an Approved Body:
    • Obtain validation of the business idea from an approved UK higher education institution or business organization, confirming the idea’s innovation, viability, and scalability.
  • Maintenance Funds:
    • Demonstrate sufficient funds for self-support, with at least £1,270 available for 28 consecutive days prior to application submission.
  • English Language Proficiency:
  • Documentation:
    • Present a valid passport with at least one blank page, and other necessary documents like a tuberculosis test result, certified translations, and the official endorsement letter.


The UK Startup Visa offers a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs to bring their innovative ideas to the UK market. By understanding and meeting the outlined requirements, applicants can embark on a successful entrepreneurial journey in the United Kingdom, contributing to its economy and benefiting from its thriving business ecosystem.

2. The UK Startup Visa Endorsement and Application Process

The application process for the UK Startup Visa involves several critical steps, including obtaining an endorsement, preparing a strong business plan, fulfilling financial requirements, and submitting a complete and accurate application. This section provides a detailed guide to help aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the process with confidence.

Endorsement Process and Choosing the Right Endorsing Body

The first step is securing an endorsement from an approved body. Follow these steps to improve your chances:

  • Research Endorsing Bodies:
    • Identify which endorsing body aligns best with your business idea and sector.
  • Review Criteria and Expectations:
    • Understand the specific requirements and expectations of the endorsing body.
  • Establish a Connection:
    • Engage with the endorsing body and present a well-thought-out business proposal.

Preparing a Strong Business Plan for the UK Startup Visa

A robust business plan is essential for securing an endorsement and demonstrating the viability of your venture. Your business plan should include:

  • Executive Summary:
    • A concise overview of your business.
  • Market Research:
    • Detailed analysis of market demand and potential.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy:
    • Plans for promoting and selling your product or service.
  • Competition Analysis:
    • Insight into your competitors and your competitive edge.
  • Financial Forecast:
    • Projections of your financial performance.
  • Management Team:
    • Information about your team and organizational structure.

Ensure your business plan is professional, well-organized, and easy to understand.

Financial Requirements and Proof of Funds

Applicants must demonstrate their financial capability to support themselves and any dependents while in the UK. Prepare the following:

  • Evidence of Maintenance Funds:
    • Bank statements showing the necessary amount for at least 28 consecutive days prior to your application.
  • Up-to-Date Financial Documents:
    • Ensure all documents are clear, accurate, and easy to verify.

Tips for a Successful UK Startup Visa Application

To increase your chances of a successful application, consider these tips:

  • Start Early:
    • Give yourself ample time to research, prepare documents, and address any potential issues.
  • Consult an Immigration Specialist:
    • Seek guidance from an immigration lawyer or specialist to ensure compliance with all requirements.
  • Double-Check Documents:
    • Verify the accuracy and completeness of your application and supporting documents.
  • Stay Informed:
    • Keep up-to-date with any changes in immigration rules or requirements.
  • Maintain a Positive Attitude:
    • Persistence and a positive outlook are crucial in navigating the application process.

By following these steps and tips, you can navigate the application process with greater ease and improve your chances of securing a UK Startup Visa. This visa can be the key to launching a successful business in the United Kingdom and achieving your entrepreneurial dreams.

3. UK Startup Visa Success Rate and Factors

Understanding the success rate and factors influencing the approval of UK Startup Visas can help aspiring entrepreneurs optimize their applications and set realistic expectations. This section explores current success rates, success stories, and factors that contribute to a higher success rate. Additionally, it compares the UK’s program with similar initiatives in other countries, such as Canada.

Current Success Rates and Trends for UK Startup Visa

Between Q2 2019 and Q3 2020, a total of 572 applications were resolved, with 546 UK Startup Visas granted. This amounts to a success rate of 95.45%. In contrast, only 20 applications were rejected, resulting in a refusal rate of 3.66%.

The success rates for the UK Startup Visa in 2019 and 2020 were 93.17% and 97.21%, respectively. These statistics indicate a high success rate, suggesting that well-prepared applicants with strong business ideas and the necessary funds have a higher likelihood of approval. It is essential to stay informed about trends in visa approvals and any changes in immigration policies, as these may influence success rates over time.

Annual and Quarterly Start up Visa Success Rate

  • 2019: 93.17%
    • Q2 2019: 89.29%
    • Q3 2019: 97.85%
    • Q4 2019: 90.63%
  • 2020: 97.21%
    • Q1 2020: 97.70%
    • Q2 2020: 100%
    • Q3 2020: 96.21%

Success Rate for UK Startup Visa Extension or Switching Applications

From Q2 2019 to Q3 2020, a total of 1,178 startup leave to remain (extension or switching) applications were resolved, with 32 applications rejected. The success and refusal rates for startup leave to remain applications were 97.28% and 2.72%, respectively. The success rate in 2019 and 2020 was 96.23% and 98.07%, respectively.

  • 2019: 96.23%
    • Q2 2019: 96.00%
    • Q3 2019: 94.48%
    • Q4 2019: 97.09%
  • 2020: 98.07%
    • Q1 2020: 97.87%
    • Q2 2020: 100.00%
    • Q3 2020: 98.20%
  • Overall Success Rate
    • Startup Visa Extension Success Rate: 97.28%

Factors Contributing to a Higher Success Rate

  • Strong Business Idea:
    • A well-developed and innovative business plan that demonstrates potential for growth and job creation.
  • Necessary Funds:
    • Sufficient financial resources to support the startup and living expenses in the UK.
  • Preparation:
    • Thorough and accurate completion of the application, including all required documentation.
  • Endorsement:
    • Securing an endorsement from an approved body that recognizes the viability and innovation of the business idea.
  • Awareness of Trends:
    • Staying informed about current trends in visa approvals and any changes in immigration policies.

UK Startup Visa Success Stories from Entrepreneurs

Numerous entrepreneurs have successfully obtained UK Startup Visas and launched thriving businesses in the country. These success stories often involve innovative business ideas, strong endorsements, and the applicants’ determination and resilience. Studying these success stories can provide valuable insights into what makes an application stand out and how to navigate potential challenges during the application process.

Success Story #1: Priya Sharma, Eco-Friendly Fashion Brand

Priya Sharma, an aspiring entrepreneur from India, successfully obtained a UK Startup Visa and launched her eco-friendly fashion brand in London. Her business idea focused on producing sustainable clothing using ethically-sourced materials and environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. She secured an endorsement from a reputable business incubator known for supporting sustainable ventures.

Key Factors in Her Success:

  • Well-Researched Business Plan:
    • Highlighted market demand for eco-friendly fashion and the competitive advantage of her brand.
  • Endorsement:
    • Secured from a recognized incubator.
  • Financial Background:
    • Demonstrated strong financial stability.
  • English Language Proficiency:
    • Ensured effective communication and business operations.

Success Story #2: Ahmed Khan, HealthTech Startup

Ahmed Khan, a Pakistani entrepreneur, received a UK Startup Visa for his innovative HealthTech startup aimed at improving remote healthcare access through advanced telemedicine solutions. His business idea caught the attention of a top UK university, which endorsed his application.

Key Factors in His Success:

  • Extensive Market Research:
    • Provided a strong foundation for his business plan.
  • Endorsement:
    • Obtained from a prestigious UK university.
  • Technical Expertise:
    • Background in software engineering and experience in the healthcare sector.
  • English Language Skills:
    • Essential for clear communication and business execution.

Success Story #3: Maria Gonzales, EdTech Platform

Maria Gonzales, a Spanish entrepreneur, secured a UK Startup Visa for her EdTech platform, which focused on providing personalized learning experiences for K-12 students through AI-driven technology. Maria’s innovative approach to education earned her an endorsement from a renowned business accelerator in the UK.

Key Factors in Her Success:

  • Innovative Business Idea:
    • Emphasized the potential to revolutionize the UK education sector.
  • Endorsement:
    • Gained from a well-known business accelerator.
  • Strong Business Plan:
    • Demonstrated the platform’s viability and scalability.
  • Financial Resources:
    • Showed solid financial backing.
  • English Fluency:
    • Crucial for effective business communication and operations.

4. Start up Visa UK Processing Time and Costs 2023

When planning to apply for a UK Startup Visa, it is crucial to consider the typical processing times and costs involved. In this section, we will discuss the average processing time for applications, the various fees and associated costs, and factors that may impact the processing time.

Typical Processing Time for UK Startup Visa Applications:

The processing time for UK Startup Visa applications can vary depending on several factors, such as the applicant’s location, the time of year, and the completeness of the application. Generally, the processing time for a UK Startup Visa is around 3 weeks (15 working days) from the date of submission. From inside the UK, the start-up visa processing time after biometrics is normally within 8 weeks (or 40 working days). However, in some cases, it may take longer. It is essential to plan accordingly and submit your application well in advance to avoid any potential delays.

Application Fees and other Associated Costs:

There are several fees and costs associated with a UK Startup Visa application. The main costs include:

  • Visa application fee: As of September 2021, the application fee for a UK Startup Visa is ££378 for the main applicant. If you are bringing dependents (spouse or children), you will need to pay an additional fee for each dependent. If eligible the main applicant can also avail a Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) discount of £55.
  • Healthcare surcharge: Applicants must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) to access the National Health Service (NHS) during their stay in the UK. The IHS fee is £624 per year for the main applicant and each dependent.
  • Maintenance funds: Applicants must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves (and any dependents) for the duration of their stay in the UK. The required amount is £1,270 for the main applicant, £285 for partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child.
  • Endorsement fees: Some endorsing bodies may charge a fee for reviewing your business proposal and providing an endorsement. These fees can vary, so it is essential to research the endorsing body’s specific requirements and costs.

Factors that may Affect UK Startup Visa Processing Time:

Several factors can influence the processing time for a UK Startup Visa application, including:

  • Application volume: High volumes of applications during peak periods, such as the summer months or around major holidays, may result in longer processing times.
  • Application completeness: Incomplete or inaccurate applications may require additional time for review, clarification, or resubmission of documents.
  • Background checks: Thorough background checks, including security and criminal history, may prolong the processing time, especially if additional information is required.
  • Personal circumstances: Applicants with complex immigration histories or personal circumstances may experience longer processing times.

5. Alternatives to the UK Startup Visa

  • Innovator Visa:
    • The Innovator Visa is designed for more experienced entrepreneurs who wish to establish a business in the UK.
    • Applicants must have a minimum investment of £50,000 and receive an endorsement from an approved body.
    • The Innovator Visa success rate is relatively lower than the Startup Visa, but it still presents a viable option for seasoned entrepreneurs.
  • Global Talent Visa:
    • The Global Talent Visa is designed for individuals with exceptional talent or promise in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, digital technology, and arts and culture.
    • This visa does not require an investment, but applicants must receive an endorsement from a recognized UK organization.
  • Graduate Entrepreneur Visa:
    • The Graduate Entrepreneur Visa (now replaced by the Startup Visa) was designed for graduates identified by UK higher education institutions as having a genuine and credible business idea.
    • This visa option is no longer available for new applicants.
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (if still relevant):
    • The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa allowed applicants to invest in and actively manage a business in the UK.
    • This visa category required a minimum investment of £200,000 (or £50,000 from certain approved sources).
    • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa was replaced by the Innovator Visa in March 2019 and is no longer available for new applicants.

6. Startup Visa Credibility Interview Q&As

During the credibility interview, the UK visa officer will assess your intentions, background, and business plan to determine if you are a genuine applicant for the UK Startup Visa. Here are some common questions and tips on how to prepare for the interview:

  • Can you briefly explain your business idea and its unique selling points?
    • Tip: Provide a concise description of your business idea, emphasizing its innovative aspects and potential market impact.
  • How did you develop this business idea?
    • Tip: Explain the inspiration behind your idea and any research, experience, or knowledge that contributed to its development.
  • How do you plan to scale your business in the UK?
    • Tip: Discuss your growth strategy, including target markets, sales channels, and potential partnerships.
  • What is your background and experience in this industry?
    • Tip: Highlight relevant education, work experience, or achievements that demonstrate your ability to execute your business plan.
  • How do you plan to fund your business?
    • Tip: Detail your funding sources, including personal funds, investments, or grants, and explain how they will support your business operations in the UK.
  • Why have you chosen the UK as the location to launch your startup?
    • Tip: Explain the benefits of launching your startup in the UK, such as market opportunities, access to resources, or supportive regulations.

7. FAQs: UK Startup Visa Requirements

  1. 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.

  2. What are the English language requirements for a UK Startup Visa?

    To meet the English language requirements for a UK Startup Visa, applicants have two primary options. First, they can pass an approved English language test, such as IELTS, achieving a minimum level of B2 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Alternatively, applicants can hold a degree taught in English, which UK NARIC (the UK’s national agency for recognizing international qualifications) recognizes as equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD. It’s important to note that English language test results are valid for two years from the test date, so applicants should ensure their test results are still valid when submitting the visa application.

  3. What is the Duration of Start Up Visa UK?

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. Can I Bring My Dependents on A UK Startup Visa?

    Yes, you can bring your dependents with you to the UK on a Startup Visa. Dependents include your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, and children under the age of 18. Each dependent must submit their own visa application and pay the relevant fees. They must also meet the maintenance fund requirements to demonstrate they can support themselves financially while in the UK.

  6. What Are the Work Restrictions on a Startup Visa?

    As a UK Startup Visa holder, you are allowed to work for your own business, but you cannot take on additional employment outside of your endorsed business venture. You must dedicate your time to developing your business and not engage in other work that may hinder your progress.

  7. Can I extend my visa or switch to another visa category?

    The UK Startup Visa is valid for two years and cannot be extended. However, you can switch to an Innovator Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements, which include having an innovative business idea, receiving an endorsement from an approved body, and securing a minimum investment of £50,000. If you have a different visa type, such as a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you may be able to switch to a Startup Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and obtain an endorsement from an approved body.

  8. 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.

For further information you may refer to Immigration Rules: Appendix Startup Visa