UK Start Up Visa

The UK Start Up visa is aimed at ambitious entrepreneurs looking to set up their first business in the UK.

Replacing the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, the Start Up route is open to both graduates and non-graduates, and no initial funding is needed to be eligible.

As a new visa, DavidsonMorris’ specialist UK business visa experts are on hand to support applicants through the process and ensure the relevant criteria are satisfied at both the endorsement and visa application stages.

What is the UK Start Up Visa? 

The Start Up Visa offers an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs to start their career by pursuing a business idea in Britain that will bring wider benefit to the UK economy.

The visa is available for a maximum of two years, after which point the visa holder will either have to apply to switch to another visa category, such as the Innovator visa, where they can continue to develop their business.

The visa will only be open to those who have secured appropriate endorsement.

Professional guidance is critical to ensure correct interpretation and understanding of the new rules and what these mean in practice for securing endorsement and making a successful visa application.

With so much at stake, it’s important to ensure the Start Up visa is the most suitable route for your needs, and that you follow the application process and submit all required documentation to avoid issues, delays or even refusal of your application.

Making a Start Up Visa application

At DavidsonMorris we help individuals meet their UK immigration needs, including Start Up visa applicants.

As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, we have an established reputation for effective and efficient management and processing of visa applications, and for providing expert visa-related advice.

We are on hand to help you through the endorsement and visa application stages, making the process as smooth as possible.

Do you need help with a Start Up Visa Application?

UK Start Up Visa Articles

Why choose DavidsonMorris to help with your visa application?

We are a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, with an established reputation across all aspects of UK business visas and immigration.

We are highly experienced in all the document and evidentiary requirements vital to a prompt and stress-free application to the Home Office.

Your Questions Answered

What is the Start Up visa application process?

The application process is in two stages.

Applicants will first need to secure endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor. This process will require a business plan to be developed, detailing your business idea, strategies and projections.

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

How much investment will I need to be eligible?

Applicants for the Start Up visa will not need to have secured investment funds for their venture.

In addition, should Start Up visa holders move on to apply for the Innovator Visa at the two-year mark, the investment requirement of £50,000 will be waived.

What are the Start Up visa requirements?

In order to make an application to the Home Office under the innovator route, you will have to show you:

  • Are over 18 years of age.
  • Are endorsed by an approved organisation.
  • Are in regular contact with the endorsing body, at 6, 12 and 24 month intervals.
  • Satisfy the English Language Requirement, Level B2.
  • Already have valid UK leave under either Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 2, Tier 4 (General) or as a visitor undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur.
  • Can show minimum maintenance funds of £945.

What are the eligibility criteria?

Your application will be assessed for its ‘credibility’. Specifically, you will need to show:

  • Any investment funds are genuinely available and intended for use as described in your application.
  • Your genuine intention and capability in undertaking the proposed business activity.
  • Your intention to work lawfully in the UK and not in breach of the regulations eg  ‘no employment as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson’.

Which are the endorsing bodies?

The government has issued a list of authorised bodies and organisations permitted to endorse Start Up visa applications. These include business and HEI endorsers. Contact us for advice on making your application to the relevant endorsing body.

Can I apply as a team?

The route does allow for applications to made as part of a team.

Does the Start Up visa lead to settlement?

It is only possible to stay in the UK under the Start Up category for a maximum period of 2 years. As such, this category does not lead to settlement.

Depending on the route you take at the end of your Start Up visa, you may become eligible for ILR under your new visa.

For example, should you switch from the Start Up visa to the Innovator route – the Innovator visa does lead to settlement where the individual meets the relevant requirements, including 3 continuous years residence in the UK.

What if my application is refused?

Your options will depend on the circumstances of the refusal. For example, were you refused endorsement on the basis of the business idea, or as a result of failing to meet the general grounds for admission? Take advice as soon as possible to assess your options for next steps.

UK Start Up Visa Articles


Starting a business for the first time in the UK?

Endorsement & Eligibility guidance on the UK’s new Start Up visa.

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We can also help with:


We can support with all aspects of the innovator visa application process for entrepreneurs.

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Innovator visa holders may be eligible for fast-tracked settlement in the UK through ILR, provided certain criteria are met.

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If you have a minimum of £2million to invest in the UK, the Tier 1 Investor visa may be an option for you.

Read more

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