How To Get a UK Start Up Visa

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One of the most effective and presumably the easiest ways to make your own mark on the economy of the United Kingdom is by setting up your very own business, with or without capital, that is, retaining a start up. In order to achieve this, you need a UK start up visa to permit you a temporary stay in the UK with all the rights and benefits attached to being a business owner.

What is a Start Up?

Just as the name implies, a start up is a newly established company which is considered to still be in the developing stage. A start up is expected to bring to the labor market innovative, unique and irresistible ideas that would be peculiar to the start up alone. The ideas should have the tendencies to thrive, grow and also provide new employment opportunities to a reasonable percentage of the population. Opening a start up in foreign countries comes with its own share of conditions but the most important requirement which is quite common to most countries is the possession of a start up visa. 

What is the UK Start Up Visa?

The UK start up visa was introduced by the British Government on the 29th of March, 2029. It is a new initiative that allows Entrepreneurs to set up their businesses in the UK for the first time. By implication, such Entrepreneurs must not have a pre-existing business in the UK.  The validity of start up visas usually varies with respect to the country or location. In the UK, the start up visa has a period validity of two years after which the visa would no longer hold value. When this happens, the most feasible option is to apply for a different visa category like the innovator visa. The latter will allow you to continue with developing your business while extending your stay in the UK. There are certain conditions which need to be met before the UK start up visa can be obtained. There is also a limit to what the start up visa can do. Therefore, before applying for this category of visa, ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and are satisfied with the visa conditions.

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One fun thing about the UK start up visa is that you are not bound by the visa in such a way that you are restricted from doing other things. While the majority of your time goes into developing your start up, you are allowed to work other jobs as well. Also, the requirement of having an initial investment capital is not needed when applying for the UK start up visa.

What are the Eligibility Criteria for a UK Start Up Visa Application?

The most important part of the eligibility criteria is having your start up business idea assessed and endorsed by an endorsing body in the UK. The areas of assessment include viability, scalability and innovation. If your startup is tested fit for a UK start up visa application, a letter of endorsement will be provided by the body. Endorsing bodies in the UK could be a university in the UK or a business sponsor with a history of supporting start ups. Check out the list of endorsing bodies here. Other criteria include:

  1. a minimum age requirement of 18 years old;
  2. a minimum English language requirement of B2 level;
  3. Enough savings of about £1270 to support yourself throughout the stay. You must also be able to keep that amount intact for a period of 28 consecutive days.
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How Can I Apply for the UK Start Up Visa?

Application is done online. However, your method of application depends on where you are applying from and for whom you want to apply for the visa. 

  • If you are applying from outside the UK, click here for information on how to apply.
  • For people already in the UK and are switching from a different visa to a UK start up visa, click here.
  • If your visa application involves your dependent relatives such as your partner and/or children, click here for more information.

Check out this article on work in the UK and the types of visas needed.

How Much Do I Need for a UK Start Up Visa Application?

If application is done ONLY for yourself while:

  • outside the UK, you need a total amount of £378.
  • within the UK, you need a total amount of £508.

If application involves your dependants while:

  • outside the UK, you need a total of £378 per person.
  • within the UK, you need a total of £508 per person.

What Else do I Need to Pay for as an Immigrant?

Any UK immigration visa application would require you to pay the fees for healthcare surcharge under the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) scheme. This gives you access to NHS services but does not necessarily guarantee the coverage of your medical expenses.


What Happens if I have my Endorsement Withdrawn by the Endorsing Body?

For one reason or the other, the endorsing body could decide to withdraw the endorsement thereby, cutting your visa short. If this happens, there is usually no remedy to it and it automatically renders the visa useless. To continue in your pursuit of a UK start up company, you would need to re-apply for the start up visa but this time, with a new endorsement. Note that this has to be done before the expiration of the current visa and this doesn’t change the two-year validity period of the visa.

How Long Does it Take to Get a UK Start Up Visa?

The first step is to start and complete the online application process during which you will be asked to prove your identity and provide all necessary documents. The waiting period, after which your visa is expected to have been obtained, varies with respect to location. For prospective immigrants applying from outside the UK, it takes 3 weeks to get the whole process done. However for immigrants applying from within the UK, you would have to wait a total of 8 weeks to get the process done with.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a UK Start Up Visa?

Pros The UK Start-up visa allows you to:

  • come with your dependants, that is, the spouse and the children as long as they are eligible.
  • work multiple jobs. However, this should not in any way interfere with or affect your start up.
  • Go on trips to other countries
  • You have the opportunity of switching between visas.

Cons As a UK start up visa holder, you are not allowed to:

  • Participate or solicit for public funds or pension programs.
  • Take up professional roles.
  • Permanently move to the area without void.

What Are the Documents Needed for a Successful UK Start Up Visa Application?

One of the most essential documents without which the visa application may fall through is the endorsement letter provided by an accredited endorsing body in the UK. A bank statement showing that you were able to retain the required amount of £1270 for 28 consecutive days in your bank is also important. This will serve as proof that you have enough to save you from a financial crisis during your stay in the UK. The other documents you will be asked to provide are:

  • a national identity card, a valid passport or any other document that provides information on your nationality as well as your identity;
  • certain countries require that you take a tuberculosis test result before showing up in the UK. As thus, depending on your country, you might need to take a tuberculosis test result and present the proof in the UK;
  • a documented proof that the English Language requirement has been met;
  • Your documents are expected to be written in English or Welsh languages. If the reverse is the case, you would be expected to provide a certified translation

How to Switch to a Start Up Visa In the UK.

This is a question that arises a lot. You can switch to a UK start up visa even if you are already in the UK on an entirely different type of visa. However, just because you have been able to gain entry into the UK doesn’t change the features or conditions attached to a UK start up visa. The validity period remains two years and the time already spent in the UK on the different visa will be deducted from this time frame. You will also need to apply for the start up visa before the expiration of the current one. The eligibility criteria are also pretty much the same. However, if you are already in the UK with your dependents and wish to switch to a start up visa while retaining a similar situation, your dependents (that is, spouse and/or children) would have to apply separately. Please note that switching to a UK start up visa has to be done outside the UK. Therefore, you will be mandated to change your location and leave the UK if you have to apply for a switch.

UK Visas that cannot be Switched to a Start Up Visa.

If you are a holder of any of the following visa types, switching to a UK visa would be impossible.

  • a visit visa;
  • a student visa (short term);
  • a permission to stay in the UK on compassionate grounds;
  • a domestic worker visa;
  • a Parent of a Child Student visa;
  • a seasonal worker visa or
  • an immigration bail.

Have you seen this article on the UK-HPI Visa? 

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