UK Start-up Visa (Tier 1)

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UK Start-up Visa (Tier 1)

The UK Start-up visa, formerly known as a Tier 1 Start-up visa, is for entrepreneurs who want to set up an innovative business in the UK that is different from anything else on the market. The business idea should also have potential for growth. It does not need to have any capital input from you.

If you are successful in your application for a Start-up visa, you will be able to stay in the UK for two years. If your business develops, there may be potential for you to move to an Innovator visa for a further period of time to allow you to carry on.

In applying for UK Start-up visas (Tier 1) you will need a letter of endorsement from a body authorised to provide this.

IBB Law’s expert immigration solicitors have successfully applied for this type of visa and provided Start-up visa guidance to clients from around the world. Our team has extensive experience across all aspects of acquiring a visa, to include dealing with complex situations and Start-up visa refusals, and we will give you support and guidance throughout the application process.

Our advice will be tailored to your unique circumstances and we will ensure that the Start-up visa is the correct option for you. We deal with the full range of UK work visas and will ensure that your application is as strong as it can be, to give you the best possible chance of success. Where necessary, we can advise you in respect of alternative options.

Complete support for UK Start-up visa applications

We provide a full visa service for clients seeking a UK Start-up visa, including the following:

  • Taking your details to check you are eligible for a UK Start-up visa and advising you of any other available options
  • Applying for a Start-up visa on your behalf
  • Compiling the documents to accompany your visa application
  • Dealing with enquiries raised by UK Visas and Immigrations
  • Advice and preparation if you are asked to attend an interview
  • Dealing with rejection or refusal of your visa application
  • Advice in respect of switching to another visa at the end of your Start-up visa term

For more information in respect of the services we offer to those seeking a visa, see UK business immigration lawyers.

Why choose IBB Law for help with applying for a Start-up visa?

At IBB Law, our UK immigration experts offer:

  • In-depth knowledge of UK Immigration laws, policies, and procedures.
  • Hands- on support from experts who keep up-to-date with developments in the law so that you always receive practical and accurate advice.
  • A cost-effective and timely service with great attention to detail.
  • Independently accredited immigration expertise with our team being ranked by leading client guide the Legal 500 for Immigration Law.

Looking for immediate help with a UK Start-up visa application?

If you want to apply for a UK Start-up visa, our team will be happy to help.

To discuss your situation with our industry-leading business immigration solicitors, you can call us on 03456 381381 or email

How to apply for a Start-up visa for the UK

Below is a guide to applying for a UK Start-up visa, with information covering the following key points:

Making a UK Start-up visa application

In making an application for a UK Start-up visa, you will need to demonstrate that your start-up idea is innovative, viable, and scalable. You will need to provide your business plan to a body authorised to assess it on behalf of UK Visas and Immigration.

You will also need to satisfy them that you will be spending most of your working time on developing the business and that the plan is your own.

Your idea should be genuine and original and meet new or existing market needs or be competitive. Based on your resources, your plan should be realistic and achievable. You should have or be developing the skills, knowledge, and experience that you will need.

Your business plan should provide evidence of structured planning and of the potential for growth and creation of jobs.

Start-up visa applications can be complicated and it is always recommended to seek assistance from a genuine expert in immigration law. Our team have a strong track record of success in securing Start-up visas for our clients and if you ask us to represent you, we will put together a sound application along with all of the necessary supporting documents.

What is the difference between a Start-up visa and an Innovator visa?

While both the Start-up visa and the Innovator visa are aimed at those with new, innovative, and viable business ideas, the Innovator visa is reserved for experienced business people with a minimum of £50,000 to invest.

The Start-up visa does not require this lump sum and is suitable for those with less experience, although their idea does need to have potential.

Those with a Start-up visa can also take on other work outside of their business, while holders of an Innovator visa cannot. The Start-up visa lasts for two years and cannot be extended, although switching to a different visa such as the Innovator visa may be possible.

The Innovator visa lasts for three years and can be extended repeatedly. It is also a potential route to settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

Start-up visa refusals and rejections

If your Start-up visa is refused or rejected, you will be advised as to the reason. It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice as to your options, as you may still be able to obtain a visa if you follow the correct process.

You may be able to re-apply if errors were made in your original application or in some circumstances you may be able to request an administrative review. The UK Start-up visa success rate was over 97% in 2020. Even if you have had your initial application refused or rejected, it may be possible to overturn this and secure a visa by ensuring you provide the requisite information.

It is important to ensure that your application is presented correctly the first time, to include enclosing all of the relevant accompanying documents. Most rejections arise because the initial application contains mistakes or because omissions have been made.

Renewing a Start-up visa

A Start-up visa cannot be renewed at the end of the two-year term, however, it is often possible to apply to switch to a different visa, such as an Innovator visa. The Innovator visa will allow you to stay in the UK for three years and can be renewed. There is also the possibility of applying to settle in the UK at the end of the three years, ie. once you have been in the country for five years.

To switch to an Innovator visa from a Start-up visa you will need to show that your business is active, trading, and sustainable. You should also be involved in the day- to- day running of it and your endorsing body will need to assess the business again and agree that it is appropriate for an Innovator visa.

Alternatives to a Start-up visa

If you are not eligible for a Start-up visa or another route might be more appropriate, you could also consider the following visas:

Innovator visa – for those who are experienced in business and who have a sound business plan for an innovative idea with potential for growth. The sum of £50,000 to invest in the business is required.

Global Talent visa – available to talented and promising individuals in the fields of the arts, sciences, and digital technology.

Frontier Worker permit – for those who work in the UK but live in a different country.

Start-up visa fees

If you are applying from outside of the UK, the fee is £363. If your partner and children will also be applying, they will also need to pay £363 each.

If you are already in the UK and are applying to switch to a different visa, the fee is £493. Again, this will also be payable by your partner and each child.

When you apply, you will also have to have paid the healthcare surcharge of £624. For under-18s, this is reduced to £470. The healthcare surcharge is payable every year of your stay.

What rights does a Start-up visa give you?

Once you hold a Start-up visa, you are entitled to bring your partner and any children aged under 18 to the UK with you, provided they are eligible.

You can work in another job outside of your business and travel overseas and return to the UK.

You will not be eligible for most state benefits.

Start-up visa requirements

Your business or business idea will need to be assessed by an endorsing body who will provide an endorsement letter to be sent with your application if they agree that the business is viable.

There are also a number of additional requirements, including the following:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You need to meet the required standard in the English language, either by holding a relevant exam qualification or by passing a Secure English Language Test
  • You cannot apply if you have previously established a business in the UK
  • You must hold funds of at least £1,270 in a bank account to support yourself for the first month of your time in the UK. If you are bringing dependants to the UK with you, you will also need to hold a minimum of £285 for your partner, £315 for your first child, and £200 each for any other children

Supporting documents for a Start-up visa

The supporting documents required for a Start-up visa application include the following:

  • A letter from your endorsing body, that should include a short description of the business venture and the main products or services to be provided as well as confirmation that the business is considered to be innovative, viable and scalable. The endorsement letter should have been issued no more than three months prior to the date of your visa application
  • A valid passport or other national travel document, with a blank page available for the visa to be added
  • Bank statements providing evidence that you hold a minimum of £1,270 in savings, plus funds to support any dependants, and that you have had this for a minimum of 28 days
  • Confirmation that your English language skills are at the required level
  • Tuberculosis test results if you are from a country where this is required
  • Certified translations of documents that are not in English or Welsh

UK Visas and Immigration may write requesting further information or inviting you to attend an interview so that they can gain more insight into your business proposition.

How long does it take to get a Start-up visa?

Application for a UK Start-up visa should be made online and you will also need to prove your identity and provide your biometric information. This can be done either at a visa application centre or by using the UK Immigration: ID Check app. If you attend a visa application centre, they may need to retain your passport or other identity information while they deal with your request.

Once you have satisfied the identity requirement and submitted your application, you can expect a decision in respect of your visa within three weeks if you have applied from outside of the UK.

If you have applied from within the UK, then it could take up to eight weeks.

You may be able to pay to have your application processed more quickly.

Get immediate expert advice on applying for a UK Start-up visa

If you need expert advice and support with a UK Start-up visa application, our highly experienced business immigration team will be happy to assist.

To discuss your situation with our industry-leading business immigration solicitors, you can call us on 03456 381381 or email