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UK Start-up Visa

The UK Start-up Visa is designed for entrepreneurs who are at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys. This visa replaced the old Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa back in 2019.

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    UK Start-up Visa

    Please Note: The Start-up route closed to all new applicants from 13 July 2023. However, there are other suitable routes available, including the Innovator Founder Visa Route. Get in touch to get the most up-to-date advice on how to start a business in the UK.  

    The UK Start-up Visa is designed for those who are new to the world of entrepreneurship. American citizens can apply for this visa if they have an original business idea which has been endorsed by an authorized body in the UK.

    The business idea must be deemed to be new, innovative and viable. You can stay in the UK for up to two years under the Start-up Visa. You can apply for the Innovator Visa after your Start-up Visa expires.


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    Eligibility for the UK Start-up Visa

    American citizens can apply for the Start-up Visa if they have an original business idea which has been endorsed.

    The main requirements for this visa for American citizens are as follows:

    • Must be at least 18-years-old
    • Your business idea must be endorsed by an authorized body which is either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of sponsoring UK entrepreneurs
    • Must be able to prove that you have the financial means to support yourself in the UK. You need to have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply for the visa
    • Must genuinely intend to undertake business activities in the UK

    You will need to provide information and documents as part of the application process for the Start-up Visa to prove your eligibility.

    What are the Requirements for the Business Idea?

    The most fundamental requirement for the Start-up Visa is that your business idea must be endorsed.

    You need to be able to demonstrate that your business idea is:

    • Innovative: You have a genuine and original business idea and plan which meets new or existing needs
    • Viability: There must be potential for growth
    • Scalability: Your business plan has potential for job creation and growth into national markets

    Unlike the Innovator Visa, Start-up Visa applicants do not need to have a specific amount of money to invest in their business idea to be eligible for the visa.

    What are the Required Documents?

    You will need to provide certain information and documents when you apply for your Start-up Visa. This is a vital and necessary part of the application process.

    The specific information which you need to provide will depend on your individual circumstances. Still, you will definitely need to provide the following information:

    • An endorsement letter from an endorsing body. This must be issued no more than three months before the date of your Start-up Visa application
    • Valid passport or another valid travel document
    • Financial documents proving your financial means. (This will usually be bank statements)

    If any of your information is not in English or Welsh, this information must be translated by an accredited translator. You will need to include both the original and the translated version in your portfolio of documents.

    It is imperative that you provide all necessary information in your application. If you fail to do so, this will result in delays in the processing of your application.

    Our expert UK immigration lawyers can help you to prepare all your information and documents.

    We will advise you on what you will need to include in your portfolio of evidence, and help you to source this information too. Also, we will ensure that it adheres to all necessary UK Home Office administrative standards.

    To find out more about how we can help you to become an entrepreneur in the UK, please call us now on +1 844 290 6312.


    UK Start-up Visa Application Process

    You need to apply online for the Start-up Visa, and you can do so from the U.S. Once you have completed the online application form, you will need to pay the application fee and upload all of your information and documents to your online profile.

    You will be required to book an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) center too.

    As part of the application process, you will need to prove your identity. Exactly what you need to do will be explained when you apply. In the past you would always provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) at the UKVCAS center.

    Recently, the Home Office has introduced the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app which you can use to scan an identity document.

    You will usually get a decision on your application within three weeks, provided the Home Office doesn’t have any concerns with your application. You will be contacted if any of your information needs to be formally verified.

    What are the Fees for the Start-up Visa?

    The standard application fees for the Start-up Visa are as follows:

    Who? Application in America/elsewhere Application in UK
    Yourself £378 £508
    Your partner and children £378 per person £508 per person

    In addition to the standard application fee, you will need to pay the annual immigration health surcharge. Currently, the fee is £624 per year. This applies to both yourself and any adult family members who will be joining you in the UK. Also, you will need to pay £470 per year for any children who will be joining you in the UK.

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      Can my Family Join me in the UK?

      Yes, immediate family members can join Start-up Visa applicants on the basis of being a family member of them. Eligible family members will need to submit their application separately and pay the full fee.

      Eligible family members include:

      • Spouse/civil partner or long-term unmarried partner
      • Child who is under 18 (including those who were born in the UK during your stay)
      • Child over 18 if they are currently in the UK as the your dependent

      The information which they will need to provide in their application entirely depends on their circumstances and varies considerably.

      Also, you will need to prove that you have additional money if family members will be joining you. You, your partner or child will need:

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

      Can I Apply for a Start-up Visa Extension?

      The Start-up Visa is valid for up to two years. You cannot apply to extend this visa. However, you can apply for the Innovator Visa instead.

      The Innovator Visa is designed for more experienced business people and entrepreneurs. You may be eligible to switch to this visa if your endorsing body has agreed to the switch, and the business is still active and trading in the UK and you have daily involvement in the company.

      After you have spent three years living in the UK under the Innovator Visa, you could be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status.

      This is a form of settled status, which means that holders of this immigration permission can stay in the UK without any restrictions imposed on them.

      After you have spent one year living in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain, you can apply for British citizenship.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                You do not need to be the sole founder of your business to be eligible for the Start-up Visa. It is possible to apply as a member of a start-up team, meaning you can share the business idea with a partner and other team members.

                However, each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body.

                Yes, it is possible to apply from inside the UK and switch from another visa. You will need to go through the full application process, just as you would if you applied from the U.S.

                However, the application fee will be £493 rather than the standard £363 for applications made from outside the UK.

                Also, the processing time will be longer. It usually takes up to eight weeks for applications made in the UK to be processed.

                If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa may be cut short. In these circumstances, you would need to apply for the Start-up Visa again and obtain a new endorsement before your current visa expires. You will need to provide a new endorsement letter when you submit your application.


                The Immigration Advice Service is a leading immigration law firm operating in the U.S, UK and Ireland.

                Our UK immigration lawyers can help you to formulate your Start-up Visa application to the very highest standard with our specialist application package.

                We will pair you with one of our UK immigration specialists who is well versed in UK entrepreneur visas. They will help you to prepare all your information and documents to prove your eligibility for the visa, ensuring that it adheres to all necessary Home Office administrative standards.

                We will complete the online application form, before submitting your full application to the Home Office. Your application will be accompanied by a letter of recommendation, highlighting the merits of your case.

                We will liaise with the UK Home Office throughout the application process, ensuring your application receives the attention it deserves. Our team will keep you informed on the application’s progress throughout the processing stage. We will follow through on every step until a decision has been reached.

                We are confident in saying that we will maximise your chances of securing your UK Start-up Visa. To find out more about how we can help you begin your business ventures in the UK, please call us now on +1 844 290 6312.