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Overview and Eligibility

The start-up visa category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. The start-up visa category has replaced Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa category. Applicants are expected to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been assessed and supported by an approved endorsing body. In all cases applicants must provide a letter of endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsing body.

As a result of successful application as a start-up migrant, the applicant will be granted leave to remain for 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement (ILR) in the UK, but applicants may progress into the innovator visa category which does lead to ILR after 3 years.

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 must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body.

You're eligible for this visa if:

  • You are not an European Economic Area EEA or Switzerland citizen.
  • You want to set up a business in the UK*. To set up a business in Britain you must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

The Start-up Visa category is reserved for early-stage, high potential entrepreneurs starting a business in Britain for the first time.

The earliest that you can apply for a UK Start-up Visa is three months before you travel. It can take a minimum of three weeks to receive a decision on your visa application.

*Unlike the UK Innovator Visa, you do not need to invest funds initially. However, you must not have previously set up a business in the UK.

The UK Start-up Visa will replace the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Programme, which closes to new applicants on 6 July 2019. New applications for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa will be accepted up until 5 July 2019.

UK immigration rules published on 7 March 2019 describe the Start-up Visa as: "An expanded version of the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme."

Start-Up Visa Requirements

UK immigration rules specify the following, minimum requirements to be eligible for the Start-up Visa:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Your business or business idea must undergo an assessment by an approved body
  • You must meet English language requirements
  • You must provide evidence of personal savings to support yourself during your time in the UK

For more information about the requirements you need to meet to apply for a Start-up Visa, contact Worldwide Immigration.

Your stay in the UK

You can stay in the UK for two years on a Start-up Visa and you can bring family members, including a spouse or partner and children under the age of 18. You will spend the majority of your time in the UK developing your business, but you can work outside your business to support yourself.

There is no option to extend your Start-up Visa after two years, but you can switch to the Innovator Visa to extend your stay in the UK and develop your business. The Innovator Visa is valid for three years, with the option to extend when it is due to expire.

After five years, you could be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (UK settlement).

Applying for a UK Start Up Visa

You can only apply for the Start-up Visa, online**. In addition, you will need to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a UK visa application centre in the country from which you are applying. You must do this to get a biometric residence permit, which is needed as part of your Start-up Visa UK application.

**If you live in North Korea, you cannot apply online. Contact us for more information on how to apply for the Start-up Visa.

To support your application, you must provide a business plan and supporting documents for endorsement. Most UK universities are endorsing bodies, along with the following business sponsors:

Those endorsing your Start-up Visa application must be "reasonably satisfied that you will spend much of your working time in Britain developing your business venture," in accordance with UK immigration rules.

UK Immigration Health Surcharge

When you apply for a Start-up Visa, you will have to pay the UK Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 per year.

Further information, help, and advice

We are registered with the OISC at the highest level 3 to provide Immigration advice and services. We can submit your visa application to the Home Office to be dealt with on the same day.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or email us at

WorldWide Immigration
WorldWide Immigration