Start Up Visa

Start Up Visa

New entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time can apply for a UK Start-up visa. There is no requirement that you are a graduate or that you have secured any initial funding before applying. In order to qualify, you will need to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that has been approved by an endorsing body.

This category of visas is valid for 2 years, and does not lead directly to the establishment of a permanent residence in the UK.  Holders of UK Start-up visas may, however, extend their stay in the Innovator visa category and apply for ILR three years later.  A UK Start-up visa applicant can bring his or her partner and any under-18 children to the country.

Is the UK Start-up visa suitable for those who want to start a business in the UK?

UK Start-up visas are designed for entrepreneurs who are in the early stages of their business development, but have high potential for growth, and who are looking to start a business in the UK for the first time.

There is a general expectation that UK Start-up visa applicants have not already started establishing their businesses in the UK before applying for a visa.  Nevertheless, even if they have, the new business should not yet have started trading, if they have already done so.  Applicants will only be exempt from this rule if they have already been granted leave under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories or under the Tier 4 doctorate extension scheme if they have already been granted leave under those categories.

If you are an experienced businessperson seeking to launch a new venture in the UK, you may find that an Innovator visa would be a more appropriate option if you wish to establish a business in the UK. If you plan to join an already-existing business, then the Skilled Worker visa may be more suitable. If you are looking to invest in an already trading company, you may want to consider a Tier 1 Investor visa. Senior employees of overseas companies looking to establish a presence in the UK may be interested in the Global Business Mobility Visa.

UK Visas and Immigration requires that you satisfy the following requirements in order to qualify for a UK Start-Up Visa

  • You are at least 18 years old;
  • You have not previously established a business in the UK (unless you previously held leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing your business venture.
  • Your endorsement letter was issued not more than 3 months before the date of your Start-up visa application.
  • You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application.You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking)
  • If you are outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months then you have at least £1270 to support yourself, plus £285 for a dependent partner, £315 for a first child and £200 for each additional child.

In some cases, you may need to meet a number of specific requirements, depending on the circumstances of the case. For further assistance, we advise you to speak with an immigration lawyer for further guidance.

Investment Funds Start Up Visa

Applicants for a startup visa do not need to invest any funds in their businesses. The requirement to have a 'viable' and 'scalable' business idea, however, may require you to have funds available to invest. Endorsing bodies may require a certain level of funding in order to endorse.

Start Up Visa endorsements 

Entrepreneurs from around the world come to our immigration lawyers for assistance in preparing successful Start-up visa applications. Additionally, we can assist applicants with securing Start-up visa endorsements. Several endorsing bodies trust Alexandra & Spencer to provide qualified clients with direct access to investment panel members, ensuring transparent and timely decision-making.

You will be issued a Start-up visa endorsement letter if your application to be endorsed by a Start-up visa endorsed body is approved. As part of your Start-up visa application, you must submit this letter. There are strict requirements in the Immigration Rules regarding the information that must be included in an endorsement letter for a start-up visa. By seeking legal advice, you can ensure that your endorsement letter is compliant with the rules.

Time Spent in the UK Start Up Visa

With a Start-up visa, you will not be required to spend a certain amount of time in the UK, and you will be granted the right to take on other employment in addition to working for the business or businesses that you have established.

The endorsing body, however, will require you to keep in touch with them as well as provide checkpoints every six months and 12 months. There will be a requirement for the endorsing body to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture. This will be done by demonstrating reasonable progress either in relation to your original business idea or in relation to a new business idea. Should this not be the case, you may lose your endorsement and have your leave curtailed.

Children under 18 and your partner may accompany or join you as dependent(s).

Applying for a Start Up Visa?

Alexandra & Spencer has established itself as one of the most experienced and successful immigration practices in the UK for start-up companies. Several of our immigration lawyers have received recognition for their work on behalf of startups, including membership in the Investment Migration Council and the Department of International Trade's Investor Support Network.


UK Immigration rules are complex and challenging which is why we work to our client's best interest and understand what is at stake.

Fill out the form and one of our immigration experts will be in touch.


How can Alexandra & Spencer assist me with the application for endorsement?
Creating a business plan that is compliant with the Start-up visa requirements
Assessing the credibility of applicants for a start-up visa and preparing them for the interview