If you have a genuine business idea, you can start it in the UK. It is possible through the UK start-up visa. The visa helps talented or ambitious people to pursue their dreams. The British government wants to benefit from the world’s talent and innovators. It seeks to create more jobs for its people through the business plans of foreigners. It’s a win-win situation for the government and talented foreign people. The start-up visa is a new version of the Tier1 Entrepreneur visa. Now the Entrepreneur visa has been replaced by the start-up visa.
What is a UK start-up visa?
If you have a genuine business idea, you can start it in the UK. It is possible through the UK start-up visa. The visa helps talented or ambitious people to pursue their dreams. The British government wants to benefit from the world’s talents and innovators. It seeks to create more jobs for its people through the business plans of foreigners. It’s a win-win situation for the government and talented foreign people. The start-up visa is a new version of the Tier1 Entrepreneur visa. Now the Entrepreneur visa has been replaced by the start-up visa.
Who is eligible for a UK Start-up visa?
The government has set eligibility principles over the UK start-up visa. You have to fulfill them to apply for the visa. If not, the officials will deny your application. The eligibility criteria for the UK start-up visa is as follows:
You can not be a national of the EEA or Switzerland.
The applicant must have reached the consent age (be at least18).
You mustn’t have set up a business in the UK before.
Note: The applicants who have proved their language proficiency in a previous application don’t need to prove anything.
You must have sufficient money to cover your expenses in the UK. You must have at least £945 to cover your expenses. If your dependents accompany you, you need £630 for each one of them.
The applicant must prove his/her language proficiency skills. You could do it through one of the below ways:
Taking a standard test. The least CEFR level must be B2 in:
The equivalent of CEFR B2 in IELTS will be a 5.5-6 score.
Who is exempt from providing a language proficiency certificate?
The following group is exempt from providing a language proficiency certificate:
- Having a certificate equal to a UK’s:
- Bachelor’s degree,
- Master’s degree
The UK UK NARIC must have recognized the degree.
The people who are from the below countries do not need to prove language proficiency:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
A certified body or organization must evaluate and endorse your business plan or idea. The UK government has a list of certified centers. The center will evaluate the below factors of your business plan:
The business plan must be authentic or brand new. It must be a solution to the market’s current demands: the more competitive factors it provides, the better.
You hold whatever it needs to run a successful business in the market.
The plan will make hobs for the British community. It also has the potential to grow.
When they approve your plan, they will grant you an endorsement letter. You must satisfy the officials to spend most of your working time in the UK to develop your business. The center must be assured of it. Also, the letter could not be older than three months at the time of application.
As mentioned, you must satisfy the endorsing body to spend most of your working time developing the business.
UK Start-up visa Requirements
The requirements for a UK start-up visa are as follows:
Your passport must hold validity over the date you will enter the UK. It can not be older than ten years. Having for minimum one blank page in the passport is mandatory.
Providing that you are applying from outside the UK, you need an application form. You can get it from the British embassy’s website.
Proof to have enough funds
Holding enough funds to cover your living expenses is a must. It is £945 for three months of living in the UK. Your bank statements stating to have the money is fine.
The citizens of a few countries have to take a TB test before entering the UK.
Proof of language proficiency
You have to provide a certificate that proves your language proficiency. Bear in mind the required score.
Start-up visa Endorsement letter
When the verified center approves your plan, they will grant you an Endorsement letter. You need it at the time of application. It can not be older than three months at that time.
You must pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge in the UK. When you pay £400 for one year, you are eligible for the National Health Service (NHS). It will allow you to receive health services like British citizens.
Attention: Remember to have the original documents translated into English/Welsh. The translation must be by a verified translation office.
British officials will require more documents. The mentioned list is a general list of requirements for The UK start-up visa.
How to apply for a UK Start-up visa?
The application process for the UK start-up visa is as follows:
1. Are you eligible?
An essential step is to see if you are eligible or not. The British government is strict with the eligibility principles. Remember that you need an endorsement letter from an authorized organization. The start-up visa is impossible without it. So, make sure you can fulfill all of them. Otherwise, your application will get rejected.
There are no financial requirements for the UK start-up visa. You only need to have enough to pay for your expenses in the UK. But you must have a genuine business plan. It must be innovative and contribute to the British economy. You need to get an endorsement from a verified center or body. See the section above to know more. When the center approves your plan, they will issue an Endorsement letter. You need it for your application. Only by holding it you can apply for the UK start-up visa.
3. Inside or outside the UK, that is the question.
The way you apply is different, whether you are inside or outside of the UK.
Apply form Inside the UK
The application process for the UK start-up visa is online.You have to make the application to the UK visa and immigration website. Bear in mind that must be eligible to apply from inside the country.
Gather all the requirements you need to submit. You have to submit them to the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS). You may upload the documents online. You could also submit them during your meeting with the UKVCAS. Bear in mind that you must be switching to the start-up visa to apply online.
The UKVCAS will inform you of the further procedures. They need your biometric too. So you must be in the UK until the UKVCAS replies to your application. You shouldn’t leave the UK until then.
Apply form Outside the UK
If you are outside the UK and will be applying for the first time, visit the UK visa anf immigration website. Through the website, you have to choose your country to submit your biometrics. If there is no place to submit requirements in your country, the system wants you to submit them somewhere else. So, choose the place carefully.
The British officials require some supporting document. They are the requirements for the UK start-up visa. See the section above to know about them. Remember, the British embassy might ask for additional documents. It could take some time to gather them. So, start this part a bit sooner.
6. Submitting the biometrics
Get a meeting with the British embassy or the place you have to submit the requirements. You have to submit your biometrics to them. It includes your fingerprints and digital photo. You have to carry the requirements to submit them.
Get to the embassy in time. You must get there on time. So arriving there at least half an hour sooner is a good idea. Remember to bring all the requirements.
Some applicants say it could take up to 20 minutes to get to the embassy. Passing through the security could take longer. It depends on the embassy. When you meet the officials, submit the documents. Then pay the fee for visa processing. Ask them in advance whether they accept
- Cash or credit card.
- Local currency, pound, or EUR.
The officials might ask you a few questions about your background and visiting the UK. It is nothing to worry about. But give them true and honest answers.
After completing the procedures with the British embassy, wait until they process your visa. The processing time depends on various factors. When they issue the visa, they will inform you. Then you can move to the UK.
Can my application for the UK start-up visa get rejected?
Yes. Your application may get rejected. There are different possibilities. First, you might not get the endorsement. Without endorsement from the verified body, there is no application. Also, British officials might refuse your application due to other reasons:
- Not holding enough money to cover expenses.
- Providing wrong information on the application form.
- Applying late. The endorsement letter cannot be older than three months at the time of application.
- Not fulfilling the language requirements.
- Setting up a business in the UK before.
If you don’t want your application to get refused, pay attention to small details. Try to be as fussy as you can. Make everything perfect.
I am in the UK. Can I Switch to a UK start-up visa?
The answer depends on your conditions. You may apply for a UK start-up visa if you are eligible. Also, you must fulfill the requirements. The holders of the following visas can switch to the UK start-up visa:
Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
If you still have a Graduate Entrepreneur visa.
Tier 2 visa
any UK visa that falls under this category is accepted.
People staying in the UK under a tourist visa must get an endorsement from a verified body or organization.
Tier 4 (General) student visa
Can I bring my family members under a UK Start-up visa?
The British law permits you to bring your family under a start-up visa. The family you can bring are:
- Spouse or law-partner
- Children under 18
Remember that you need proof of a relationship to bring your family. Also, you must have enough funds to cover their expenses. The good point is that you can work outside of your business to pay for your expenses. But, the law wants you to spend your working time in the UK.
How long will the UK Start-up visa be valid for?
The UK Start-up visa is valid for two years. There is no way for you to extend it. But, you can switch to other UK visas. You can switch to the UK innovator visa. It is valid for three years and permits you to extend it.
Do I have to be the only creator of a business?
There is no obligation for you to be the sole creator of the business. You could share it with others. You could be part of a start-up and apply for the start-up visa. But, remember you must get an endorsement from the verified centers.
Are there financial requirements for the UK start-up visa?
Unlike the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa that expired, there are no financial requirements over the start-up visa. The only financial requirement is to have enough to cover your expenses. You don’t need funds for your business plan. Yet, you have to get an endorsement from a verifies body. The British government has introduced a list of them. See the section above to know about them.
UK start-up visa success Rate
In 2019, the British government issued 234 UK start-up visas. The success rate of the start-up visa depends on your situation. You should work on your conditions to improve the success rate of your visa. If your documents are missing or faulty, the rate will decrease. The essential part is the business plan. The more convincing it is, the better. Work on it to a large extent. It is the key to the start-up visa.
Can I apply for the UK Residence Permit or citizenship through the Start-up visa?
No. The UK start-up visa only permits you to stay in the country for two years. If you seek to stay longer, you must switch to the UK innovator visa. The innovator visa authorizes you to stay for three years. It p[ermits you to extend your stay in the UK. After five years, you will become eligible to apply for the UK Indefinite Leave to Remain. It is permission to stay in the UK without any time limit.
UK visa fees/Cost
The fee for the UK start-up visa depends on your situation and the country you apply from. The general feel is £363. But the British embassy might accept local currency. It is up to them.
Providing that you are in the UK and want to switch to the start-up visa, the fee is £493. If your dependents accompany you, you need to pay £363 for each one of them.
Let’s sum up
This text covered whatever you need to know about the UK start-up visa. It explained who can apply for it, the requirements, eligibility principles, the application process, validity, fees, FAQs, and more.
If you wish to learn more knowledge about other types of a UK visa, visit the left-sidebar.
When you wish to gain more knowledge about other country’s visas, go to the Visa Library’s home page.
Visa applicants want you to share your experience or knowledge about visas in the comment section if you have any. They are valuable tips.