Start-Up visa

This route is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time.

Please note that from 13 April 2023, this visa route shall be replaced with the new visa category called Innovator Founder.

However, those who have been issued with endorsements for Start-Up visa prior to 13 April 2023, shall still be able to apply for a Start-Up visa as per the old rules.


Applicants are required to have and innovativeviable 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.

A. Applying

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 the Innovator category subject to meeting additional criteria.

The new category will not include points-scoring tables.

B. 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. 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.

Endorsement criteria

The endorsement letter must confirm both following features:

1. *That the applicant’s business venture meets all 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.

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.

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 £1,270 for at least 28 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 £1,270.

In addition to the £1,270 you must have to support yourself, you - or your partner or child - will need:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

English language

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

  • being a national of a majority of 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;
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) – currently called Minister of Religion Visa;
  • Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) – currently called Student Visa

To discuss your visa application

Please contact with one of our immigration lawyers by phone +44 (0) 207 907 1460 (London), +971 509 265 140 (Dubai) or complete our enquiry

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C. 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.

D. Switching 

You might be able to apply to change (‘switch’) to a Start-up visa if you’re already in the UK on a different type of visa, with the exception of:

  • a visit visa
  • a short-term student visa
  • a Parent of a Child Student visa
  • a seasonal worker visa
  • a domestic worker in a private household visa
  • immigration bail
  • permission to stay outside the immigration rules, for example on compassionate grounds

E. Dependants

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.

F. What is allowed and prohibited on the Start-up Visa

On this visa, you are allowed to:

  • bring your family (‘dependants’) with you to the UK – spouse and children below 18 years old
  • work in another job, as well as working for your business
  • travel abroad and return to the UK

On this visa, you are not allowed to:

  • apply for most benefits and public funds, or the State Pension
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • settle in the UK on this visa

G. Administrative Review (Entry clearance and extension applications)

If the entry clearance or extension application is refused by the ECO in the British Diplomatic post or by the Home Office, the applicant will be given a right to make a request for a review of the decision that must be exercised within 28 days of the date of service of the decision if the application was submitted outside the UK or 14 days if application is made inside the UK. The applicant will only be able to rely on the information/documents already submitted with the application, and will not be allowed to provide or submit any fresh evidence with the review request.

It is therefore strongly advised to take professional help while making grounds for making review request.

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 advise on the merits of an administrative review in the event of any refusal

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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