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The Start-up category is for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs who are starting a business in the UK for the first time.

Entrepreneurs in this category can work on their own or as part of an entrepreneurial team. The business may or may not already exist, but should not yet have started trading fully. Applicants can develop entrepreneurial projects in any sector provided the idea is sufficiently innovative, viable and scalable.

The category is not designed for those wishing to join a business already trading in the UK (the Tier 2 skilled work routes may be more appropriate) or to invest in an existing business (the Tier 1 (Investor) category may be more appropriate).


Endorsement from an Endorsing body approved by the Home Office

Endorsing bodies consider early-stage proposals from entrepreneurs and provide long-term support to those they endorse. Some may offer financial assistance in exchange for a share in the business.

Endorsing bodies will stay in contact with the business founders they endorse to check on their progress. The endorsing body must be satisfied that applicants are continuing to work on their business ventures. This may impact the outcome of any subsequent Innovator applications.

Endorsing bodies may also withdraw endorsement if they consider progress to be unsatisfactory or find breaches of the conditions attached to the visa.

No funds are required for investment in the business but sufficient maintenance funds must be shown for the applicant and their dependants.



Our Experts

Navka Raja Navka Raja

Immigration consultant and trainee solicitor in our General Immigration Team, with extensive experience of Private Client and Corporate Immigration law




I am already trading in the UK, can I apply for a Start-up visa?

The Start-up category is reserved for those who are not yet trading in the UK. However, you may be able to switch to this visa category even if your business is already established in the UK, provided you started it while you were a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Tier 4 doctorate extension scheme visa holder.

I am in the UK with a Tier 4 visa as a student. What can I do to start my business before applying for a Start-up visa?

If you intend to apply for a Start-up visa from within the UK, you should be careful not to establish a trading presence. This can include registering with HMRC and undertaking marketing or marketing research. You may be able to carry out preliminary activities (e.g. preparing a business plan or negotiating contracts) or incur pre-trading costs as part of assessing the business for its viability and scalability in the UK.

Can I work to support myself on a Start-up visa?

You will be required to spend the majority of your time developing the businesses, but you can also take on other work outside of your businesses in order to support yourself.

Do I have to pay for an endorsement when applying for a Start-up visa?

Start-up visa applicants may be charged for additional services provided by an Endorsing body (such as mentoring or renting office space). However, Endorsing bodies must not charge for considering and issuing the endorsement itself, subsequent monitoring or any other matter directly related to your immigration status.

How long will my Start-up visa be granted for?

The category offers a one-off visa for 2 years.

Can my family come with me to the UK if I am granted a Start-up visa?

When applying for a Start-up visa, you may be able to have your partner/spouse and dependent children under the age of 18 apply with you, or if you are successful, your dependents may apply to join you at a later stage.

What happens after 2 years?

The successful Start-up applicant can apply to the relevant Endorsing body to confirm the progress of their project and to confirm that they have demonstrated enough progress to meet the “Innovator – same business” criteria. In this case the Start-up applicant will transform into an Innovator applicant but with one important proviso – they will not need to demonstrate the availability of the £50,000.

Gherson can assist with preparing applications in the Start-up category and in conjunction with specialists assist with making submissions to the relevant Endorsing bodies.

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