Business Plan

Start-up Visa

What is a start-up visa? 


The Start-up visa category is a 2-year visa for high-potential entrepreneurs who are starting an innovative business in the UK for the first time. It was established in 2019 and replaced the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme. 


What is the benefit of applying the Start-up visa category?

  • You don’t need to proof that you have secured any initial investment capital. In other words, if you have an inspiring business idea but tight budget, this visa route may be right for you.

  • You can bring your dependants with you to the UK

  • You can work in other jobs outside your start-up business to support yourself

  • You can switch from other visa categories to this visa (exceptions apply)


What is the application process?

The application process is in two stages.


Stage 1

Applicants will first need to secure endorsement from a UK higher education institution or approved business endorsing body.  Full list of the approved business endorsing bodies can be found here.  You will have to draw up a business plan to demonstrate that your business plan is viable and detailing your business idea, strategies and projections.  You must be able to show that your business idea is:


  • a new idea - you cannot join in a business that is already trading

  • innovative - you must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage 

  • viable – it is realistic and achievable. You should have or is actively developing necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness that is required to successfully run the  business

  • scalable – there should be evidence to show that your business plan will be able to create jobs and growth into UK markets


Stage 2

If approved, you can then make your visa application to the Home Office.

Drawing up a successful business plan is crucial to the success in the application of this visa category. Our experienced immigration lawyers can give you advice on your business ideas and help you with getting the endorsement. Contact us today by email to or using the enquiry button below.


What is the eligibility criteria?

The applicant must:

  • be at least 18 years old

  • meet the English language requirement of at least CEFR Level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening unless the exceptions apply to you. Or you have a degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English or a qualification that is equivalent to a UK bachelor's degree, master's degree or PhD

  • have a sufficient amount of personal savings to support yourself (and your dependants, if any) while you are in the UK:

    • £1,270 - yourself

    • £285 - for your partner

    • £315 - for one child

    • £200 - for each additional child




  • have a valid Tuberculosis tests certificate

  • not have previously set up a business in the UK

  • be endorsed by an authorised body and able to provide an endorsement letter issued by the endorsing body within 3 months before the date of your application


How much does it cost and how long does the application take?

The application fee for the applicant and each of the dependant is £363 if the application is made outside the UK and £463 if the application is made within the UK. You and your dependants will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of the application process. You can calculate how much you have to pay here. The processing time is about 3 weeks if the application is made outside the UK and 8 weeks if the application is made within the UK. 


Can you apply as a team?

You can team up with your business partners to form an entrepreneurial team and share the same business idea and plan as another Start-up team member. 

However, each member of the Start-up team must be get their own endorsement and be issued with an individual endorsement letter. Each team member must also need to all the requirements of the route in their own right. 

Will Start-up visa lead to settlement?

Unfortunately, the Start-up visa is for 2 years only and it will not need to settlement. However, you may switch to the Innovator visa (without the need to secure additional investment fund) from the Start-up visa. You maybe eligible to apply for settlement after 3 years of continuous stay in the UK under the Innovator Visa category provided other conditions are met.  Please refer to Innovator Visa for further details.

*The money should be kept in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you make the application.

Get in touch with our immigration team today if you need help with your Start-up visa application