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What is a UK start-up visa?

This route is suitable for individuals seeking to establish a new business in the UK for the first time. You must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been assessed and supported by a Home Office approved endorsing body. If approved, the endorsing body will provide a letter of endorsement which you can then use for your visa application.

You cannot join an existing business under the Start-up visa route.

You can work in another job as well as working for your own business under this category.

How many points do I need to score for a successful application?

You will need to score 70 points as follows:

  • Business is innovative, viable and scalable (25)
  • You have not previously established a business in the UK (25)
  • You have an approved English language qualification at CEFR level B2 (10)
  • You meet the financial requirement (10)

Do I require investment funds?

Unlike the Innovator visa, there is no set threshold for investment funds. However, the requirement to have a viable and scalable business idea means that you will need to have some funds available to invest.  Some endorsing bodies require a certain level of funding as a condition of endorsement which can be determined by contacting the endorsing body.

Do I require maintenance funds?

Yes, if you are applying from outside the UK (or you have not already been in the UK for at least 12 months before your application), you must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependents without recourse to public funds as follows:

  • £1,270 for main applicant
  • £285 for dependent partner
  • £315 for a first child
  • £200 for each subsequent child

Can I switch into the Start-up visa category?

It is possible to switch into this category from within the UK as long as you do not have, or were not last granted permission in one of the following categories:

  • Visitor
  • Short-term Student
  • Parent of a Child Student
  • Seasonal Worker
  • Domestic Worker in a Private Household
  • outside the Immigration Rules.

Can I apply for a Start-up visa as part of a team?

Yes, you can apply as part of a team. This means that you may share the same business idea and plan as another Start-up team member.  However, each applicant must receive their own individual endorsement from an approved endorsing body and must have the relevant maintenance funds available.

What is the length of leave?

If your application is approved, your visa will be valid for a maximum period of 2 years.  Leave previously held in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route counts towards the maximum 2-year limit.

This route does not lead directly to settlement, but you can, as a start-up visa holder, extend your stay in the UK under the innovator visa category and qualify for indefinite leave to remain 3 years later should you satisfy the requirements.

Can my dependents join/accompany me to the UK?

Yes. Your partner and any children under the age of 18 may accompany or join you as your dependant(s).

What are the requirements of the Start-up visa?

Before you apply for a Start-up visa, you must ensure that your business or business idea has been assessed by an endorsing body.

In order to qualify for a Start-up visa you will need to demonstrate that:

  • You are at least 18 years old
  • This is your first business in the UK (unless you were a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur previously)
  • You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea and has provided an endorsement letter to that effect (letter must not have been issued more than 3 months before your application)
  • You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application;
  • You meet the English language requirement (at least CEFR Level B2 which equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking)
  • You must be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself and any dependents while in the UK without recourse to public funds

Can I apply for further leave to remain and ILR?

As mentioned above, it is not possible to extend a Start-up visa and Start-up visa holders are not eligible for settlement. However, at the end of 2 years you will be eligible to apply to switch into the innovator category (should you meet the requirements) in order to continue developing/running your business and your endorsing body has assessed and agreed to it.  The Innovator category can lead to settlement after a further 3 years.

What are the fees?

There is a fee of £363 for overseas Start-up visa applications (+ £363 for each dependent) and £493 (+ 493 for each dependent) if you are applying to switch into the category from a permitted visa route in the UK.

However, if you are from one of the following “eligible categories”, the application fee will automatically be reduced to £55 (for main applicant only): Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

You and any dependents will be mandated to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge.


The exact requirements and documents required for each application will vary depending on your circumstances.

Our experienced lawyers can help to:

  • Prepare an initial application
  • Prepare a detailed and thorough business plan including financial forecasts
  • Prepare you for interview

We will assist by:

  • obtaining the complete facts of a case
  • collecting relevant documents
  • advising on the best solutions
  • using our expertise to undertake one-to-one interview preparation
  • preparing the application (including completion of forms)
  • preparing covering submissions
  • submitting the application(s) to the relevant authority
  • communicating with the relevant authority until a decision is made
  • advising about rights and entitlements following a decision an application
  • providing follow up support and services



DESCARTES SOLICITORS is recognised as one of the leading multi-practice firms in the UK. Our

specialist immigration team will advise, prepare, and submit high-quality visa applications for applicants and their dependent family members. Contact our lawyers on 0208 995 3556 or e-mail