Start-up visa

Start-up visa

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 – start-up visa

You must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either:
• a UK higher education institution
• a business organisation 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

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

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

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

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn.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.

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
You cannot:
• get public funds
• work as a doctor or dentist in training
• work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
• settle in the UK on this visa

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

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

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 recognised 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.
You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
• Antigua and Barbuda
• Australia
• the Bahamas
• Barbados
• Belize
• Canada
• Dominica
• Grenada
• Guyana
• Jamaica
• New Zealand
• St Kitts and Nevis
• St Lucia
• St Vincent and the Grenadines
• Trinidad and Tobago

When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ from an authorised 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.
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Switch to this visa

You may be able to switch to a Start-up visa.
You should apply before your current visa expires.

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 potential for growth.

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

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:
• your husband, wife or partner
• your child under 18
• your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

You must have £630 for each dependant in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself. This is to show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.
You need proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.
Example You must have £2,205 if you want to bring your partner and 1 child with you to the UK: £945 to support yourself + £630 for your partner + £630 for your child.

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. Dependants must either:
Family members cannot apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

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