For whom?

This route is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. This new category replaces the existing Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category.

Applicants are required to have and innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. The endorsements of applicants will be handled by UK trusted bodies – such as business accelerators, seed competitions and government agencies, as well as higher education providers. These bodies will assess applicants’ business ideas for their innovation, viability and scalability.

The full list of endorsing bodies with programmes descriptions and application process can be found via this link.

New route to open on 29 March 2019.

Call us on
+44 (0) 207 907 1460 (London),
+7 495 933 7299 (Moscow),
+971 509 265 140 (Dubai)
for immediate help & assistance with the Start-up Visa. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.


Applicants will not need to be graduates and will not need to have secured any initial funding.

Successful applicants will be granted 2 years’ leave and will be able to progress into the Innovator category to continue developing their businesses in the UK after that time.

Endorsement for initial applications will be based on assessment whether applicants’ business ideas are innovative, viable and scalable.

This route does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but applicants may progress into to the Innovator category subject to meeting additional criteria.

The new category will not include points-scoring tables.

Requirements for entry clearance and leave to remain

The applicant must be at least 18 years old.

Credibility assessment

The UKVI will be undertaking a new credibility assessment which entails the following requirements:

  • Genuine intention to undertake, and to be capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
  • The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
  • Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.

The UKVI will further take into account any endorsement of the applicant and may also take into account additional factors:

  • the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility;
  • the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history;
  • declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK;
  • any other relevant information.

The UKVI may ask the applicant to attend an interview or to provide additional information and evidence.


All applicants for entry clearance or leave to remain must have been endorsed in this category by an endorsing body listed on the website. The endorsement letter issued by the endorsing body will have to contain the following information:

  • the name of the endorsing body;
  • the endorsement reference number;
  • the date of issue, which must be no earlier than 3 months before the date of application;
  • the applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality and passport number;
  • confirmation that the applicant has not previously established a business in the UK (unless the applicant’s last grant of leave was under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category);
  • a short description of the applicant’s business venture and the main products or services it will provide to its customers;
  • confirmation that the applicant’s business venture meets the endorsement criteria;
  • the name and contact details (telephone number, email and workplace address) of an individual at the endorsing body who will verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office if requested.

The applicant can choose to apply as a sole founder of the business or as a member of an entrepreneurial team.

There is no strict requirement for the new endorsement to be issued by the same endorsing body if the applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start-up category. The endorsement however has to be valid at the time of application.

Endorsement criteria

The endorsement letter must confirm both following features:

1. *That the applicant’s business venture meets all of the three endorsement requirements:

Innovation - the applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

Viability - the applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business. 

Scalability - there is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

(*the requirement in 1. above does not apply if the applicant’s last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, and the endorsement is from the same endorsing body as the endorsement which led to that grant of leave. Instead, the endorsement letter must confirm that the applicant’s business venture is genuine and credible.)

2. That the endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures.

Endorsing bodies

There will be a full list of endorsing bodies on the website.

The applicants will be asked to stay in contact with their respective endorsing body with checkpoints after 6 and 12 months.

The endorsing bodies will monitor whether the applicants are continuing to work on their business ventures and have either demonstrated reasonable progress with their original ideas or are pursuing new business ideas that are also innovative, viable and scalable.

Maintenance funds

An applicant will need to show maintenance funds of £945 for a consecutive 90-day period ending no earlier than 31 days before the date of application. 

The applicant does not need to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from their endorsing body confirms that they have been awarded at least £945.

English language

The applicant must have good command of English to be able to communicate with variety of business organisations and potential customers. This can be demonstrated by one of the following:

  • being a national of a majority English speaking country;
  • passing an English language test proving a knowledge of English equivalent to level B2 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework (please refer to the Approved English Tests Providers List);
  • holding a degree taught in English and equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.

Alternatively, the applicant can meet the English language requirement by demonstrating that they met the requirement in a previous successful application and they must have had a previous grant of entry clearance or leave to remain in any of the following categories:

  • Start-up;
  • Innovator;
  • Tier 1 (General);
  • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work);
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012;
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion);
  • Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned on or after 21 April 2011.
To discuss your visa application contact with one of our immigration lawyers by phone 
+44 (0) 207 907 1460 (London),
+7 495 933 7299 (Moscow), 
+971 509 265 140 (Dubai)
or complete our enquiry format on the top of the site

Periods and conditions of grant 

Leave to enter or remain will be granted for up to 2 years initially and can only lead to a maximum of 2 years in the category.

For extension/switching applications 2 years can be granted however the time already granted in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Start-up categories will be deducted.


An applicant may also be able to switch to this category if they already hold leave to remain in the UK in one of the following categories:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur);
  • Tier 2;
  • Tier 4 (General) – subject to *restrictions outlined below;
  • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur.

*Restrictions for Tier 4 (General) Students applying in the UK 

If the applicant’s last grant of leave was as a Tier 4 (General) Student, the following restrictions apply:

1. The applicant must have been sponsored as a Tier 4 (General) Student by one of the following:

  • a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution from one of the following:
    • the Higher Education Funding Council for England,
    • the Scottish Funding Council,
    • the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales,
    • the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland;
  • an overseas higher education institution to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the United Kingdom;
  • an Embedded College offering Pathway Courses;
  • an independent school.

2. If the applicant was sponsored for their studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency, and the sponsorship is ongoing or ended less than 12 months before the date of application, the applicant must:

  • have been granted unconditional written consent to make the application by their sponsoring government or agency;
  • provide a letter from each sponsoring organisation confirming this (the letter must be issued by an authorised official of that organisation and contain contact details which allow it to be verified).


An applicant can bring dependants to the UK and dependants already in the UK can apply for further leave as dependants in this category, subject to the dependant maintenance requirements. Dependants will now be allowed to apply from within the UK, as long as they are not here illegally, as visitors, or on temporary admission or temporary release.

Administrative review 

Any refusal decision will attract a separate right of administrative review.

Our services

  • We can advise on the procedure, requirements and merits of making an application for leave to enter or remain in a Start-up category
  • We can advise and represent our clients in making representations in support of their immigration matters
  • We can advise and represent our clients’ dependants to seek dependant visas in line with the visa of the main applicant
  • We can offer a Super Premium Service where the Home Office will visit the applicants in order to process the applications within 24 hours
  • We can advise on the merits of an administrative review in the event of any refusal and represent clients in appeals

Whatever the case, we are here to assist, advise and represent our clients in relation to any aspect of their immigration matters.


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