The start-up visa - for
fresh and ambitious

For ambitious entrepreneurs seeking to set up a business in the UK for the first time, the Start-up immigration visa might be the most suitable category to apply under.

Open to applicants from outside of the EEA and Switzerland, this visa route expects the business idea to be ‘innovative, viable and scalable’ and, most importantly, supported by an endorsing body.

Endorsing bodies

A growing number of organisations have been appointed by the UK Home Office as Endorsing Bodies for the new Tier 1 Start-up visa route. The list includes a significant number of higher education endorsing bodies as well as organisations with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. Each organisation sets its own parameters as to which type of entrepreneur and business idea they would consider supporting.

Applicants must obtain an endorsement letter from an approved body to submit with their visa application. It is therefore best to do your research first and choose one that would be suitable for your business idea. The full list can be found here.

Gaining endorsement

Endorsing bodies will review an applicant’s business proposal and decide if it meets the following tests:

  •  A new idea
    This cannot be a business that is already trading. You must not have previously set up a business in the UK
  • Innovative
    An original idea that is different from everything else on the market
  • Viable
    You can demonstrate the skills and market awareness to achieve your business goals.

There is no specific requirement for funds to be invested into the business but, as part of the assessment, each endorsing body will expect the business plan to detail the venture’s strategy for growth. Since each body is accountable for those they endorse, they are expected by the Home Office to ensure the applicant is able to meet the requirements of the scheme.

Obtaining a visa

Once endorsement is gained, the visa application should take approximately three weeks to complete – if applying from overseas. As processing times vary between countries it is best to check the processing times.

If you are successful in acquiring a Start-up visa, you may stay in the UK for a maximum of two years to develop their business venture. After 24 months, all applicants are expected to move into the Innovator category.

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