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UK Startup Visa Process

Overview

You can apply for a Start-up visa if:

  • you want to set up a business in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

Getting endorsed

You must be endorsed by an authorized body that is either:

  • a UK higher education institution
  • a business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • a new idea – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
  • innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable, with potential for growth

Read the endorsing bodies list – you should only approach ones that are suitable for your business idea.

How long it takes to get a visa?

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Example

You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.

Fees

How much you pay for a Start-up visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

How long you can stay?

You can stay in the UK for 2 years on a Start-up visa.

You cannot apply to extend this visa. You may be able to switch to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you’ve:

  • Completed your second year on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
  • Switched from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa to a Start-up visa for your second year

If your endorsement is withdrawn

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.

You can only stay for a total of 2 years even if you’re granted a new visa with a new endorsement.

What you can and cannot do

You can:

  • bring family members with you
  • switch to this visa from some other visa categories
  • work in another job, as well as working for your business

Eligibility:

Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body.

They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

You must also:

  • Be at least 18 years old · meet the English language requirement
  • Be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK Read the specific requirements for the Start-up visa before you apply.

Supporting yourself

You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.

Documents you must provide:

When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ from an authorized body.

You’ll also need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply · your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • proof that you have knowledge of the English language
  • You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.
  • You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

Apply

You must apply online for a Start-up visa.

You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application center (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.

You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).

Find out how to get your visa decision faster – this depends on what country you’re in.

Check if your visa application center offers faster decisions and other services.

Applying from North Korea

You cannot apply online if you’re living in North Korea.

To apply from North Korea you must:

  • download the application form and guidance – read the guidance if you need help filling in the form
  • Read the instructions to find out where to take your completed form

Switch to this visa

You may be able to switch to a Start-up visa.

Eligibility

You can apply to switch to this visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK on one of the following visas:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • any Tier 2 visa
  • Tier 4 (General) student visa
  • Standard Visitor visa – you’ll need to get a supporting letter from an endorsing body to prove you’re looking for funding

You must meet all of the Start-up visa’s eligibility requirements.

If you switch from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, you do not need to prove that your business is a new idea with the potential for growth.

How long you can stay?

You can stay in the UK for 2 years on a Start-up visa. Any time you’ve already spent in the UK on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa counts as part of the 2 years.

Providing biometric information and supporting documents When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).

You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents.

You can:

· upload them into the online service

· have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment

Get help to apply online

You can get help with completing the online form if you:

  • Do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • Do not have internet access

You can only use this service if you’re applying to switch to this visa in the UK.

How long it takes?

A decision will be made on your application within 8 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example:

  • If your supporting documents need to be verified
  • If you need to attend an interview
  • Because of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

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