What is the UK Start Up Visa?
Foreign entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the UK for the first time have been given a new route to do so via the Start-Up visa. Commencing on 29th March 2019, it has replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and is the best way for professional businesspeople with proven potential to start setting up a business within the UK.
Here at Osbourne Pinner, we’re committed to providing clear advice to help you navigate the complexities of the Start-Up visa and the UK’s immigration system, ensuring your business gets off on the right foot.
You’ll undoubtedly be keen to get started with your business and won’t want to be held back by endless paperwork or unsuccessful applications. With numerous requirements to meet, thorough preparation is essential to meet the standards set by the Home Office. That’s why it’s crucial to have straightforward guidance to help you throughout the process.
Osbourne Pinner can assist with everything from the initial application of the visa, right through to legal advice when handling a rejection. We have proven expertise in helping clients understand how to process their visa and arrange the correct documentation when needed.
Don’t risk going through the process unassisted and without the correct guidance. We’re ready and waiting to achieve the outcome you need.
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How can our immigration solicitors help?
Starting a new business is stressful enough. When you add on the pressure of obtaining the correct documentation to transfer to another country, it is inevitably going to be even more daunting.
At Osbourne Pinner, our immigration team will assist you every step of the way, clearly outlining the requirements you will need to meet in order to successfully secure your visa, including finding the correct endorsement and passing a potential credibility interview.
Boasting years of experience and countless success stories supporting those looking to obtain work within the country, we pride ourselves on using our knowledge to help others from the application phase, right through to reversing refused decisions.
Our dedicated and adept solicitors will take you through the process step by step and give you all the tools you need for a successful visa application.
What is the Start Up visa application process?
In March 2019, the UK replaced the previous Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa with the ‘Start-Up’ and ‘Innovator’ visas.
The two key introductions mean that it is now a requirement to be endorsed by an approved organisation as listed by the Home Office.
The change was made to make the visa more inclusive to entrepreneurs worldwide and help further attract ambitious people wanting to set up businesses within the UK. In turn, it’s hoped that this will drive growth by increasing levels of productivity and creating high-paid jobs for local residents, which will benefit the economy as a whole.
The first step when starting to apply for a Start-Up visa should be to speak to an expert immigration solicitor. The dedicated Osbourne Pinner team will first invite you for an initial consultation where we will work with you to review your credentials and suitability for the visa.
We will also run through the requirements for the visa and analyse your business plan to ensure you are eligible enough to be successful when applying. This is the time where you can ask questions and explore alternative options which may be more suitable for your particular case.
Stage 1 – Business Proposal
The first stage in obtaining a Start-Up visa is to ensure the business proposal is a new idea that meets the Home Office’s requirements:
- Innovation: You must have an authentic and original business plan that meets the needs of the UK’s new or existing market, or creates a competitive advantage.
- Viability: You must be in the process of, or already boast, the skills, knowledge and experience that is required to successfully run the proposed business.
- Scalability: You must be able to provide evidence that the business has structure and the potential for growth, including job creation.
- Investment: While there is no specific requirement for your business to have secured investment, they will consider a company without investment to be less viable.
Your dedicated solicitor will be able to advise as to whether a business plan is suitable and will help with any supporting documentation. Still, it will be up to you to devise the plan and come up with any creative aspects.
Stage 2 – Endorsement
You then must obtain an endorsement letter from an approved body to submit with your application. The endorsing body will then review your business proposal and decide whether it meets the required tests, as well as ensuring that you have not previously established a business in the UK.
Our solicitors will guide you through this endorsement stage by creating an application that clearly demonstrates your skills and match you with a suitable endorsement body.
A full list of authorised organisations is published and regularly updated by the Home Office on the GOV.UK website. The list mainly includes UK higher education institutions and business organisations that have a history of supporting entrepreneurs in the UK.
Once approved, it is the endorsing body’s responsibility to keep in contact with you. If they do not accept your application, they will be required to report to the Home Office where you have not met the requirements of the scheme. The visa may be halted if an endorsement body withdraws their endorsement or loses its status as an approved endorsing institution.
Stage 3 – Credibility
You will then be invited to attend a credibility interview to ensure that your business is genuine. At this stage, you would need to prove to that Home Office that you:
- Plan to undertake the business referred to in their application and are capable of doing. The Home Office will consider things such as your previous work experience, education and immigration history and any declarations made to other government departments (such as HMRC) regarding previous roles.
- Do not intend to breach immigration law.
- Intend to make sure that any money you claim is genuinely available as you have described and that you intend to use it for the purposes described in your application.
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Start-Up visa guidelines
As with all visas, there is a set of specific guidelines that cover exactly what you can and can’t do when you’re in possession of a Start-Up visa.
You can bring dependent family members with you on a Start-Up visa. However, they will need to submit a separate application, which will incur additional costs for each dependent. You will also have to prove that you can support them. Again, this is something our Start-Up visa specialists can assist with.
It is possible for you to change your visa from Start-Up to a Student or Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. It’s also fairly common for those who have completed the Start-Up Visa to switch to the Innovator category as this will, if accepted, extend your stay for an additional three years.
On a Start-Up visa, you will be allowed to work in another job as well as work for your own business. This can be key for supporting you while you set up your company.
Some types of employment are restricted for those on a Start-Up visa. For example, you will be unable to work as a doctor or dentist in training or work as a professional sportsperson.
Unfortunately, if you secure temporary settlement via the Start-Up visa, you and your business will not be eligible for grants or other public funds. As such, you will have to privately fund your business.
Additionally, the Start-Up visa doesn’t lead directly to permanent settlement, and those who come to the UK via the visa will only be able to stay temporarily. As such, once the period is over, you will want to look at securing another type of visa to lengthen your stay.
On completion of the visa
Once you have been successfully granted the Start-Up visa, you will be able to remain in the UK for two years. At the end of the two years, you will be expected to switch to the Innovator visa if you wish to remain in the UK to manage your business.
The Innovator visa is for individuals with more experience. As well as an endorsement, applicants for the Innovator category will need £50,000 to invest in their business from a legitimate source.
Once the Innovator visa has been secured, you will be able to remain in the UK for three years, at which point you can apply for the right to stay in the United Kingdom permanently, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Start-Up visa fees
How much an individual pays for a Start-up visa depends on their situation and whereabouts in the world they are applying from. Applicants must pay £363 to apply unless they are a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia where the fee changes to £308. All family dependents must also pay the fee.
The applicant must also have held at least £945 for a consecutive period of at least 90 days unless the endorsing body is certifying maintenance. On top of this, you will also have to pay the UK Immigration Healthcare Surcharge as part of the application, which is around £400 per year.
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If you’re ready to start your Start-Up visa application, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our practised immigration team are available to guide you through the whole process – from securing endorsement to collecting the supporting documents – ensuring you obtain a successful outcome.
We’re available via phone, video call, or in person, ready and waiting to answer any questions you may have. For a free and no-obligation initial chat, contact us today on 0203 980 9348 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Start Up Visa FAQs
The Start-Up visa is a new visa route in the UK that allows entrepreneurs from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to set up a business within the country. It replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Programme, which closed to new applicants on 6th July 2019.
To be successful, you must not have already begun the setup process of the business within the UK or started trading.
Firstly, a person who wishes to apply for a Start-Up visa must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by a related endorsing body.
The plan must also meet new or existing market needs, have the potential for job creation or growth and be original. It is also ideal for the person owning the business to show the skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness that is needed to successfully run the business.
They must also be able to prove that they have enough personal savings to support themselves while in the UK and have had their business idea endorsed by an approved body.
To be eligible for a Start-Up visa, you must be at least 18 years of age and meet the English language requirement.
You will be able to prove your knowledge of English by passing the English language test with at least a CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening or having a qualification that was taught in English and is recognised as being equivalent to a degree, master’s degree or PhD.
You will also need to provide a current passport or other valid travel identification, bank statements showing at least £945 in savings in the bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply. You will also need tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test.
In addition to these, to secure a biometric residence permit, you will be required to have your fingerprints and a photograph taken at a visa application centre.
You will not be able to apply for a Start-Up visa until at least three months before you plan to travel to the UK. Once you’ve applied, it can take a minimum of three weeks to receive a decision on the visa.
You can only apply online for a Start-Up visa.
On a Start-Up visa, you will be able to stay in the UK for two years.
Once completed, the visa cannot be extended. However, an applicant may opt to switch from the Start-Up category to the Innovator category, which if accepted, may be granted for an additional three years.
If dependent family members wish to join an applicant in the UK and are based in a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, they are required to have a visa as well.
Dependent family members as classed as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, same-sex partner or child under the age of 18. If your child aged 18 or over, they may be able to apply as a dependent if they are already living in the UK.
Start-Up visa applications can only be made as an individual and cannot be made as part of a team.
However, you can be a member of an entrepreneurial team and share the same business idea, as long as each applicant is issued with their own individual endorsement and meet all of the requirements in their own right.
Start-Up visas are one-off visas which do not directly lead to settlement in the UK or British nationality.
However, prior to the expiry of the initial visa, Start-Up visa holders may extend their stay in the UK by switching to the Innovator visa category if they continue to hold endorsement from an endorsing body.
There are certain things that you cannot do on a Start-Up Visa that it is important to remember. You will not be able to apply for public grants, or work as a training medical professional or sports professional. You will also not be able to apply directly for settlement in the UK
If an endorsement is withdrawn, then it is very likely that the visa will be cut short.
The applicant must then decide if they want to continue their work in the UK, as they then must re-apply with a new endorsement before the current visa expires. Keep in mind that you can only stay for a total of two years, even when granted a new visa with a new endorsement.
When an application is refused, it will carefully spell out the circumstances of the refusal and if you have the right to appeal. For example, you could be refused endorsement on the basis of the business idea, or as a simple result of failing to meet the general grounds for admission?
It is wise to seek advice immediately as soon as an application is refused to ensure proper assessment of the next steps you can take.