The Start-up Visa, which was originally called the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, is a type of entry clearance used by graduates who want to start a business in the UK.
If you want to come to the UK to start a business as a recent university graduate you can apply for a Start-up Visa. To be eligible, you must have an endorsement from one of several possible endorsing bodies. In the case of this type of visa, which is specifically for graduates, this endorsing body is usually a British higher education institution. You can also be endorsed by a business organisation that has a history of supporting Tier 1 entrepreneurs.
If your business is successful you can switch to an Innovator Visa (originally called a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa). This will allow you to stay in the UK for a further five years and can be used as a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain. To find out more about our team of London immigration lawyers can help you by calling us on 020 4502 8582.
UK Start-up Visa requirements
There are several requirements you must meet in order to be eligible for a UK Startup Visa. These are very similar to the old Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa (which has now been replaced by this visa), but there are some key differences.
The requirements are:
- You must be 18 years old or over
- You must meet the English language requirement
- You can show that you have enough funds to support yourself when in the UK
- Your business has been endorsed by an approved body and you have a letter from this endorsing body
Unlike in the case of the Innovator Visa, you do not need to invest funds initially to qualify for this entrance route. However, you cannot have started a business in the UK previously.
To meet the requirements for a UK Startup visa you need to be endorsed by a Home Office ‘approved body’.
This can either be:
- A educational institute based in the UK, like a British university
- A business that has a history of supporting new entrepreneurs
A business or educational facility must be included on the government’s list of ‘approved bodies’ in order for you to be endorsed by it. You can find this list on the UK Gov website.
To get your endorsement, you should contact an endorsing body and present them with your business plan. You should choose which endorsing body to approach based on your educational history, as well as the type of business you want to set up. If you have studied at a British institution, you can switch from Student Visa onto a Start Up Visa when you graduate. In this circumstance, it is common that your university will act as your endorser.
Your business plan should be clear and detailed. With it, you are trying to prove that your business is viable, and that is likely to be successful and profitable. A good business plan, that is likely to be endorsed, should include:
- An executive summary of your business;
- A clear and concise overview of your business;
- An operations plan (including information on the physical setup of your business);
- Market analysis – (who is likely to buy your goods and products?);
- A description of the products/services you will be selling to consumers;
- An outline of your sales and marketing strategies;
- Competitor analysis (who are your direct competitors and why are they successful?)
- Details roles and players involved in the business and a planned hierarchical structure;
- Financial plan and projections.
English language requirements
To meet the Tier 1 Startup Visa requirements, you must prove that you have a knowledge of the English language when you apply.
You can do this by either:
-Passing a Home Office approved English language test (like an IELTS test) with a minimum score of CEFR level B2 in writing, reading, listening and speaking; or
– Having an academic qualification which was taught in English and is from a recognised UK educational facility (or paired universities) to the equivalent of bachelor’s, masters of PhD
If you have met English language requirements for a previous application to enter the UK – to a B2 level or higher – you do not need to do so again.
You are exempt from the English language criteria if you are from an English-speaking or commonwealth country.
To make a Tier 1 Start-up Visa application, should submit the following documents alongside your application:
- Your endorsement letter
- Your current passport/travel document
- Banks statements which show you can support yourself in the UK while setting up your business (this must show that you have at least £945 of savings in your bank account for at least 90 consecutive days preceding your application
- Proof that you meet the English language requirements (see above)
- Your TB test results (if you are from a country where this is mandatory)
You can scan or post the required documents along with your Startup Visa application.
You can apply online for this type of Entrepreneurship visa. You will need to submit an application form, alongside all your supporting documents, including your endorsement letter and business plan.
You may be asked to attend a Startup interview with representatives from UKVI. This is to discuss your business plan in more depth and also to assess your reasons for wanting to start a business in the UK after you graduate.
You need to have your biometric information taken (this includes your photograph and fingerprints). This can be done at a UK visa centre.
The Start up Visa processing time is approximately three weeks to one month. However, this can vary depending on how complex your case is. You may also be eligible to use the Home Office’s priority service which enables you to get a decision on your application within five days.
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You can apply for a Startup Visa if you want to start a business in the UK and you have an endorsement from an authorised ‘endorsing body’.
Once you have this endorsement, which can come from either a British educational institution or from an authorised body, you can make a Tier 1 Start Up Visa application online.
Alongside this application, you’ll need to submit documents that prove that you meet the requirements. This includes proof that you meet the English language requirements and financial requirements.
To show you meet the language critieria, you can submit a copy of an English-taught degree if you hold this or a certificate that shows you have passed an English language test. You will need to meet at least a ‘B2’ level for reading, writing, speaking, and listening to be eligible.
Entrepreneurship visas are used by people from outside the EEA who want to start or take over a business in the UK.
The UK Start up visa aha replaced the previous Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. The original counterpart for this visa was the Entrepreneur, which is now called the Innovator Visa.
The Start up Visa and Innovator Visas replaced both these visas and became the only two Entrepreneurship Visas you could apply for last year. Both are under the Tier 1 category of the points-based system.
If you had either a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or an Entrepreneur Visa before this cut off date, your visa would not be valid. And you can still switch from one of these previous visa types to either the Startup or Innovator categories.
You should submit your business proposal to your chosen endorser. This could be an educational facility (such as one you have graduated from/are due to graduate from) or a business that is within your niche and eligible to offer their endorsement.