Start Up 2022 – a Look at the UK Start-up Visa banner


Start Up 2022 – a Look at the UK Start-up Visa

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We all make New Year resolutions. Maybe yours was to start up your own business. You may have resolved to come to the UK to live. With the start-up visa you can combine both of your 2022 New Year resolutions because to get entry clearance to the UK on a start-up visa you need to have entrepreneurial spirit and intend to start your own business. In this article our immigration solicitors look at the whether the start-up visa is your best visa route and the eligibility criteria for the start-up visa.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors 

For advice on UK immigration law and best visa options call the expert London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The start-up visa – is it the best visa for you?

Is the start-up visa the right visa for you? If you are contemplating coming to the UK on business you have a number of visa options. The start-up visa may be your best visa option if you want to set up a business in the UK but you don’t have a long track record of previous business success. You may therefore think the start-up visa is aimed at students or young people. It isn’t. It is open to anyone, regardless of age, and may be ideal for you if you have business experience gained in the workplace but you now want to move to the UK and, at the same time, pursue your goal of owning your own business.

Alternate visa options include:

  • The skilled worker visa – if you want to work for a UK employer who holds a Home Office issued sponsor licence and sponsors your employment in the UK. You will need a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship before you can apply for a skilled worker visa.
  • The intra company transfer visa – if you are transferring your employment from an overseas branch of an international company to the UK branch.
  • The business visitor visa – if you want to come to the UK for six months or less and your planned business activities are classed as ‘permissible’ under the business visitor visa immigration rules. This type of visa may be suitable if you want to spend some initial time in the UK checking out the feasibility of starting a business in the UK.
  • The innovator visa – if you have some previous business experience and you meet the eligibility criteria for the innovator visa, including £50,000 to invest in the business.
  • The sole representative visa – if you work for an overseas business and you are tasked with setting up the first UK subsidiary company or branch of the overseas parent company in the UK.
  • The investor visa – if you have the funds to invest in the UK and you are willing to put them in investments that meet the investor funds immigration rules then this visa allows you to come to the UK and you can , if you wish to do so, then set up a business without having to comply with the business rules relating to the start-up visa or innovator visa.
  • The global talent visa – if you meet the eligibility criteria for the global talent visa you can work in the UK without needing a sponsoring employer or you can start your own business without having to comply with the start-up visa immigration rules.

Most people looking to move to the UK have more than one visa option and immigration lawyers can talk you through which ones are available to you and which one best meets your circumstances and goals. For example, if you are risk adverse but you meet the skills criteria, the skilled worker visa may be the best visa for you as it leads to settlement in the UK as you can apply for indefinite leave to remain once you have met the five-year residence requirement. Alternatively, if you have the money or talent, the investor visa or the global talent visa may be your best option as they can both lead to accelerated settlement in the UK and give you the most flexibility and impose the least restrictive immigration controls.

The start-up visa – are you an innovator?

The start-up visa is designed to attract innovators and entrepreneurs to the UK as the UK needs talented and ambitious people who can meet the points-based immigration system eligibility criteria and go on to set up an innovative business in the UK.

Immigration solicitors find that when they mention that a business idea must be ‘innovative’ that would be start-up visa applicants are deterred from making a business visa application. The word ‘innovative’ should not put you off applying for a start-up visa but it should make you think about your business idea and how it can be made innovative. Your business idea can't be the same as everyone else’s business plan but it does not have to be a brand-new invention, just a bit different to other things that are already on the market in the UK.

As well as your business being new and innovative your business also needs to be viable. Think of the 2022 Apprentice series with Lord Sugar and you will know what the Home Office means. If you have never watched the Apprentice TV programme then we mean that you can't plan to set up an innovative business if your anticipated overheads and market base show that the business won't be viable and won't grow. Viability is a key part of the eligibility criteria as the UK wants to attract entrepreneurs who will make a success of their business so they end up employing UK workers, paying taxes in the UK and contributing to the UK economy. That way it is a win-win situation for the government and the entrepreneur.

Start-up visa endorsement

The start-up visa application process is carried out in two stages. First, you need to get endorsement from an endorsing body. Second, you need to get the Home Office to approve your start-up visa application.

The government produces a list of approved endorsing bodies for the start-up visa as you can't go to your bank , accountant or family friend for a letter of endorsement. With the right business plan and professional support most committed entrepreneurs can get endorsement. Once you have that you need to apply to the Home Office for your start-up visa within three months of the date of your endorsement letter.

Start-up visa and the Home Office application

Before you get your business plan looked at by the endorsing body it is best to get your immigration solicitor to check that you will meet the general eligibility criteria for the start-up visa. The general eligibility criteria are assessed by a Home Office official as part of the second stage of the visa application process.

The start-up visa general eligibility criteria are:

  • Age - you must be at least eighteen years old.
  • English language – you must meet the English language requirement – you may either need to take an English language test or be exempt from doing so because of your nationality or qualifications.
  • Maintenance requirement – you must meet the maintenance requirement – this means you need to be able to prove that you have savings ( currently the immigration rules say the minimum is £1,270 ) to support yourself whilst you are in the UK. (With the start-up visa you don’t need to have funds to set up your business although you will need to be able to convince the endorsing body that your business is viable and that you will have the funds through your own resources or borrowing).
  • General eligibility – you meet the general entry clearance requirements for all visa applicants.

The start-up visa – your future in the UK

A start-up visa lasts up to two years and it can't be extended. However, if your business is a success and you meet the eligibility criteria you can apply for an innovator visa. To get an innovator visa you will need endorsement from an endorsing body and submit an application to the Home Office. If you are able to switch to an innovator visa then once you meet the residence requirement you can apply to settle in the UK by securing indefinite leave to remain.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors 

For specialist advice on any aspect of immigration law call the London immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitorson 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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