London Immigration Lawyers
0204 502 8582 (local rate)

Mon - Sun, 8.30 am - 6pm

Find an office

10 offices in the UK


We are the UK's leading immigration specialists
OISC Accredited UK immigration lawyers
We've had over 5000 applications approved
Get the correct advice from qualified immigration experts
4.7 rating 414 reviews

Start-up Visa

Note: The Start-Up visa route will no longer accept new applications after 13 July 2023. Applications made before then must have an endorsement from an authorised body issued before 13 April 2023. If you wish to immigrate to the UK to start a business, you can instead apply for the Innovator visa (now known as the Innovator Founder visa)

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 and start up visa applicants 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.

Immigration Advice Service 4.7 rating 414 reviews Logo

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 These are very similar to the old Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa (which has now been replaced by this other visa category), but there are some key differences.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 start up business to qualify for this entrance route. However, you cannot have started a business in the UK previously.

Endorsing bodies

To meet the requirements for a UK Startup visa you need business idea 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 approved 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.

Business plan

Your business plan should be clear and detailed. With it, you are trying to prove that your business is a innovative viable and scalable, 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.

Application process

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.

How do I get a UK Start Up visa?

You can apply for a Start Up 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 criteria, 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.

What other types of Entrepreneurship Visa UK are there?

Entrepreneurship visas are used by people from outside the EEA who want to start or own business ventures 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 for start up visa holders 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 immigration rules 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 a visa holders either the Start Up or Innovator categories.

Advice Package icon

Advice Package

Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.

Application Package icon

Application Package

Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Fast Track Package icon

Fast Track Package

Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.

Appeal Package icon

Appeal Package

Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.

Advice Package image

The Advice Package

During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.

    Request a call back from our immigration experts

    Request the Advice Package
    Application Package image

    The Application Package

    With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

      Request a call back from our immigration experts

      Request the Application Package
      Fast Track Package image

      The Fast Track Package

      Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.

        Request a call back from our immigration experts

        Request the Fast Track Package
        Appeal Package image

        The Appeal Package

        By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.

          Request a call back from our immigration experts

          Request the Appeal Package

          We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone. Learn more

            Request a call back from our immigration experts

            Related pages for your continued reading.

            Frequently Asked Questions

            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.