Start Up Visa

As an Immigration specialist law firm, founded in 2015, OTS Solicitors know what it is like to set up a new business from scratch. It takes an immense amount of hard work as well as having the right professional support behind you. The Business Immigration team at OTS Solicitors understands the needs of entrepreneurs and start-up businesses and provides commercially astute, proactive legal advice to help entrepreneurs and would-be business owners to successfully apply for a Start-up Visa.

What is a Start-up Visa?

The Start-up Visa is a new category of visa for non-European entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the UK and have a viable, scalable and innovative business idea. The business idea and plan have to be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body.

Why should I apply for a Start-up Visa?

The Start-up Visa replaces the Tier 1(Graduate entrepreneur) Visa and opened in March 2019 for entrepreneurs wanting to set up a business in the UK. The UK remains keen to attract entrepreneurs and those with the business ideas and skills to set up business in the UK.

OTS Solicitors Business Immigration team are specialists in business visas. The team has substantial experience in helping entrepreneurs with their Immigration and business law needs and can help with an application for a Start-up Visa.

What are the eligibility criteria for a Start-up Visa?

As with all immigration applications, there are certain Home Office imposed requirements that have to be met to obtain a grant of leave to enter the UK via a Start-up visa.

The eligibility requirements are:

  • applicants must be at least 18 years old;
  • meet an English language test;
  • have the required maintenance funds that the applicant must hold for a consecutive period of at least 90 days as specified by the Home Office rules. (This requirement is not necessary if the endorsing body is certifying maintenance);
  • want to set up or run a business in the UK (the business or business idea will need to be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body);
  • applicant is from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland;

What is the application process for a Start-up Visa?

The application and endorsement process for a Start-up Visa is a two-stage process. An applicant needs to get endorsement from an endorsing body for their business plan or idea. Once a letter of endorsement is obtained, the applicant can submit their Start-up Visa application to the Home Office with all the necessary supporting documents. 

What are the investment criteria for the Start-up Visa?

There is no requirement under a Start-up Visa to invest a minimum amount of money into the business venture, but an applicant will need to prove to an endorsing body that the business plan is viable. They will also need to satisfy the Home Office that they have a credible business plan under Home Office assessment criteria. 

The business plan criteria for a Start-up Visa

If an entrepreneur wants to start a new business in the UK and apply for a Start-up Visa the applicant’s business idea and plan must meet the following criteria:

1.     Innovation
The applicant must have a genuine, original business plan that meets a new or existing market need and/or creates a competitive advantage.

2.     Viability
The applicant must have the skills, knowledge, and experience and market awareness to run the new business.

3.     Scalability
The applicant must be able to show evidence of scalability of the business with the potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

The endorsement criteria for a Start-up Visa

Applicants for a Start-up visa have to obtain an endorsement letter from a Home Office approved endorsing body to submit with their Start-up Visa.

An endorsing body will assess the business idea and plan of a visa applicant and decide if the plan meets the criteria of innovation, viability and scalability. The criteria is similar to the criteria for an Innovator Visa but the endorsing body does not expect the applicant to have as much business experience as an Innovator Visa applicant.

If the business meets the Start-up Visa criteria, an endorsement letter will be provided and the endorsing body will have the responsibility of monitoring the business performance at regular intervals. Without an endorsement letter an applicant for a Start-up Visa cannot go on to submit their Start-up Visa application to the Home Office.

Endorsement bodies and Start-up Visa applications

An applicant for a Start-up Visa has to secure an endorsement letter from a Home Office approved endorsing body. The endorsing bodies for Start-up Visas are either approved higher educational institutes or business organizations.

The Home Office guidance states that an endorsing body has to have a proven record of supporting UK entrepreneurs and must be able to assess business plans against the endorsement criteria set out in the Immigration rules.

The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies for Start-up visas and this list will be updated as endorsing bodies are added or removed from the list.

The Home Office assessment of Start-up Visa applications

After an applicant for a Start-up Visa has secured an endorsement letter and met the general criteria for the Start-up Visa, they need to ensure that their visa application addresses the additional Home Office criteria.  

The applicant has to be able to show that they genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, the business as set out in their business plan and application.

The Home Office considers an applicant’s work, education and Immigration history when assessing if an applicant is genuine and it is therefore important that a Start-up Visa application is thorough and well prepared.

Every business visa category has complex guidance notes instructing applicants on the specific documents required as evidence to demonstrate eligibility; failure to adhere to these guidelines will result in the refusal of an application.

The length of a Start-up Visa  

A Start-up Visa lasts for two years. A Start-up Visa cannot be extended. At the end of the Start-up Visa, an applicant can apply to switch to an alternative visa and can ultimately secure settlement in the UK if they meet the Home Office criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

If an applicant has held a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) Visa, then time in the UK on that visa counts as part of the two-year Start-up Visa period.

Switching from a Start-up Visa to an Innovator Visa   

If an applicant secures leave to remain in the UK because they hold a Start-up Visa; Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur); or Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa they can apply to switch to an Innovator Visa. The Innovator Visa can lead to settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain

Start-up Visa restrictions

Under a Start-up Visa, you cannot:

  • work as a doctor or dentist in training;
  • work as a professional sportsperson;
  • access public funds.

Why choose OTS Solicitors as your business immigration solicitors?

The Business Immigration team at OTS Solicitors, led by Paul Gulbenkian and Teni Shahiean, are ranked in the Legal 500 directory. Senior immigration solicitor and former judge of the immigration tribunal Paul Gulbenkian is an advisor to the UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee. With many years of combined expertise, the Business Immigration team provides a flawless and strategic business immigration service.

As an innovative and an award-winning law firm, OTS Solicitors understand that your success is our success. We understand that entrepreneurs and investors are vital in continuing the economic growth in the UK. At OTS solicitors, we help act as a gateway to that success by providing world class Business Immigration services to innovators and entrepreneurs. OTS Solicitors can assist you to enter the UK and take full advantage of opportunities to invest in the UK and your business.

For detailed and tailored advice to your individual circumstances, please contact the OTS Solicitors Business Immigration department on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

One-Stop Business Immigration Service

To provide clients with a one-stop business immigration service, our Immigration Solicitors work with business plan writers, business consultants, financial advisors and accountants to ensure your visa application is successful. OTS Solicitors Employment and Corporate lawyers can also provide support to ensure you are advised on the specific immigration rules and requirements to help make your business a success. Providing a one-stop business service our legal teams work with your professional advisors to provide the best seamless business immigration service in the UK.

For detailed and tailored advice on your individual circumstances and planned Start-up visa application, please contact the OTS Solicitors Business Immigration department on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

For a more detailed discussion regarding your case, or to book an appointment with a member of our Business Immigration team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123 


For a more detailed discussion regarding your case, or to book an appointment with a member of our business immigration team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123 

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