Start Up Visa

Start up visa

This route does not accept any endorsement applications from 13 April 2023 and is replaced by Innovator Founder visa.

The Start-up visa category is an expanded version of what was previously the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category. This visa is designed for individual who would be starting a new business for the first time in the UK.

You do not need to be a graduate, nor do you need to have an initial secured funding.

Once successful, an applicant will receive a visa which is valid for no more than 2 years. It is expected that a Start Up visa holder will convert into the Innovator visa category before the completion of 2 years.


* Immigration Update 14 May 2020 – see our article here

Some of the main changes that will apply from 4th June 2020 includes:

  • Emphasis on the viability  criteria whereby the Business Plan submitted must be realistic to the resources available to the applicant;
  • Start-up visa applicants can change their business venture provided that the Endorsing body is satisfied that the new venture meets all of the eligibility criteria. This means that visa applicants won’t have to apply for a new endorsement.
  • Further emphasis is being made that the Home Office caseworker will be able to ask questions and raise concerns if they don’t think that the endorsement has been issued appropriately


Basic Requirements

The applicant must be at least 18 years old


Eligibility to apply inside the UK

You are allowed to make an initial application in the UK for leave to remain as a Start Up visa holder if you are currently in the UK with permission to stay as:

  • a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant;
  • a Tier 2 migrant;
  • a Tier 4 General student (with restrictions);
  • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur as set out in Appendix V


Credibility Assessment

For all applications

  • The Applicant must genuinely intend to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK as stated in their application
  • You must not intend to work in the UK in breach of your conditions
  • Any money that you are claiming to be available is genuinely available as described, and that you intend to use it for the purpose described in your application

The decision maker may request additional information from yourself, or your endorsing body, and they can also decide to carry out an interview.


English Language Requirement

There are 4 ways in which you can show you meet the English language requirement. These include:

  • Being a national of a majority English speaking country; or
  • Passing an English language test level from a provider listed in Appendix O and had taken the test at a Secure English Language Test centre – note that you must achieved the required scores in all relevant component in a single sitting; or
  • Holding a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.
  • If you have previously been granted an entry clearance or leave to remain in any of the following categories:
    • Start Up Innovator
    • Tier 1 (General)
    • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)
    • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012 Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
    • Tier 4 (General), supported by a CAS assigned on or after 21 April 2011


In order to qualify for entry clearance or leave to remain under the Start Up visa, you must show that you have enough money to support yourself (and any dependants). The maintenance requirement is detailed below:

  • You must have at least £1,270 of personal savings;
  • If the main applicant and their partner or children are applying at the same time, there must be enough maintenance funds in total of the required amount;
  • The amount required for a dependant partner will be £285, a first child will be £315 and £200 for each subsequent child. The total amount must be maintained for 28 consecutive days.



Applicants wishes to apply under this category must be endorsed in this category by an endorsing body listed on the website.

The endorsement letter must confirm both parts of the following:

Part 1
  • The applicant’s business venture meets all of the requirements in the table below:



The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.


The applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.


There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

Part 2
  • The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business


Endorsing Bodies

The organisation must be one of the following

  1. An approved UK higher education institution which has established a process for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among its undergraduate and postgraduate population; or
  2. An approved organisation which has a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs, including resident workers

Sincere Immigration has successfully assist clients in obtaining an endorsement as well as a Start-up visa. Get in touch at for more information.

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