Personal Immigration

START-UP

START-UP VISA

The Start-up visa category is for non-EEA nationals who want to establish a new business in the UK for the first time.  You do not need to be a graduate or have secured any initial funding. However, you will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.

What are the main eligibility requirements for a Start-up visa?

In order to qualify for a Start-up visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are at least 18 years old;
  • You have not previously established a business in the UK (unless you previously held leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur);
  • You have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing your business venture;
  • You genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application;
  • You are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B2 (equivalent to IELTS 5.5 in reading, writing, listening and speaking);
  • You have at least £945 available to support yourself (and £945 for any dependants) without relying on public funds.

There is no investment funds requirement, meaning that in theory a Start-up visa can be obtained without any investment funds.  However, you may wish to keep in mind that the Home Office will want to be satisfied that you genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, business activity in the UK and that you do not intend to work in the UK in breach of conditions.

What else do I need to know about the Start-up visa?

Your initial Start-up visa will be valid for 2 years unless you have previously been granted leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur.

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 able to apply for further leave to remain in the Innovator category in order to continue developing your business.  The Innovator category can lead to settlement after a further 3 years.

Applications for Start-up visas can be made from outside the UK, but it is also possible to switch into the Start-up visa category from within the UK if you were last granted leave to remain as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, Tier 2 General or Tier 2 ICT Skilled Worker, Tier 4 General Student or Prospective Entrepreneur.

You do not need to be the sole founder of your business and may be a member of an entrepreneurial team.

As a Start-up visa holder you will not be required to spend any particular amount of time in the UK and you will be permitted to undertake employment other than working for the business or businesses that you have established.

However, you will need to stay in contact with your endorsing body with checkpoints at 6 and 12 months.  The endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you are continuing to work on your business venture and have demonstrated reasonable progress in relation to either your original or a new business idea.  Your endorsement may be withdrawn and your leave curtailed if this is not the case.

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

How our immigration barristers can help

Richmond Chambers is widely recognised as one of the UK’s leading immigration practices for Start-up businesses.  Our immigration barristers were awarded ‘Business Immigration Chambers of the Year in England’ at the 2018 Corporate Intl Magazine Global Awards,  ‘UK Business Immigration Barrister of the Year’ at the ACQ5 Law Awards 2018 and ‘Business Immigration Set of the Year’ at the Global Law Experts Awards 2017.   The work of our immigration barristers on behalf of startups has also been recognised through membership of the Investment Migration Council and the Department of International Trade’s Investor Support Network.

Our team of immigration barristers has experience in assisting all types of startup businesses.  Our barristers are experts in the immigration options for startups and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to startups as part of a professional and friendly service.

We can also assist with

  • Applications for Start-up visa endorsement by approved UK endorsing bodies

    Before you can apply for a Start-up visa, you will need to be endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body.  Our immigration barristers can assist you to prepare a strong application for endorsement which demonstrates that your business idea is innovative, viable and scalable.

    Innovation: Our immigration barristers can assist you to satisfy the endorsing the body that you have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

    Viability: Our immigration barristers can assist you to satisfy the endorsing the body that you have, or are actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run your business.

    Scalability: Our immigration barristers can assist you to satisfy the endorsing the body that there is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

    Our immigration barristers can also assist you to satisfy the endorsing the body that you will spend the majority of your working time in the UK on developing your business venture(s).

  • Drafting a Start-up visa compliant business plan

    As part of your Start-up visa application, you may wish to include a detailed, genuine and original business plan.  Our immigration barristers can assist you to identify a suitably qualified professional business plan writer, instruct the business plan writer on your behalf and then liaise with the plan writer to ensure that your Start-up visa business plan satisfies the requirements of the Immigration Rules.

  • Credibility assessment interview preparation for Start-up visa applicants

    Even if you have obtained an endorsement, you will still need to satisfy the Home Office that you genuinely intend to undertake, and are capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in your application.  As part is its credibility assessment, the Home Office may invite you to attend an interview.

    Our Credibility Assessment Interview Preparation sessions include:

    • Advice as to potential interview questions;
    • One-to-one interview practice with an immigration barrister;
    • Constructive feedback on all aspects of your performance;
    • Advice and tips on further preparation and how to improve on any weak areas;
    • Time for you to ask questions and/or address any other concerns that you have about your credibility assessment interview.
  • Applications for extension of stay as an Innovator

    After you have completed 2 years as a Start-up visa holder, you will be able to apply for further leave to remain in the Innovator category in order to continue developing your business.  The Innovator category can lead to settlement after a further 3 years.

    If you last had leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up and you are applying to extend your stay in the Innovator category in order to pursue the same business venture you must either:

    • have at least £50,000 available to invest in your business or have already invested £50,000 in your business and have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend your entire working time in the UK developing your business venture(s); or
    • have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that is satisfied that you have shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement, you are registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, your business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months, you have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and you will spend your entire working time in the UK developing your business venture(s).  If applying on this basis you will not need to satisfy an investment funds requirement.

    If you last had leave as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or Start-up and you are applying to extend your stay in the Innovator category in order to pursue a different business venture, you have at least £50,000 available to invest in your business or have already invested £50,000 in your new different business venture.  You must also have been endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that has assessed your business idea for innovation, viability and scalability and is satisfied that you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business venture(s).

  • Applications for settlement as an Innovator

    You will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) after spending 3 years in the Innovator visa category.

    In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain as an Innovator you must again be endorsed by an approved UK endorsing body that is satisfied that you have shown significant achievements judged against the business plan assessed in your previous endorsement, you are  registered with Companies House as a Director or Member of your business, your business is active, trading and appears sustainable for at least the following 12 months, you have had an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business and you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing your business ventures.

    You will also have to satisfy at least two of the following:

    • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering your business plan;
    • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary for at least £25,000 a year;
    • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers with no average salary requirement;
    • The number of customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the mean number of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services;
    • The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK;
    • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts;
    • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.

    In order to qualify for settlement you will also need to have spent not more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12 month period during the 3 year period of your visa and have sufficient knowledge of English and Life in the UK.

  • Fresh applications, Administrative reviews and Judicial reviews for Start-up visa applicants

    If your application for entry clearance or leave to remain or settlement as a Start-up has been refused, our immigration barristers can advise on the merits of making a fresh application or challenging the decision.

    If the decision-maker failed to apply the Immigration Rules or Home Office policy correctly, we can bring Administrative Review proceedings to challenge the decision.

    If the decision to refuse your application was unlawful, unreasonable or procedurally improper, our immigration barristers can apply for Judicial Review and provide representation at Judicial Review hearings.

WHAT CAN WE HELP YOU WITH?

To arrange an initial consultation meeting with one of our immigration barristers, contact our Start-up visa team on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

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