Svetlova LLP

Start-up Visa

Start-up Visa

The Start-up visa category is for early-stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs with an innovative and viable idea, who are starting a business in the UK for the first time. The business may or may not already exist, but it should not yet have commenced trading.

The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and may work as part of an entrepreneurial but each member must have their own individual endorsement.

Applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage.

Successful Start-up visa applicants are granted leave for 2 years only, with no further extensions in this category. However, after 2 years the applicant may switch to the Innovator visa category for the purpose of settlement.

During the granted period of leave applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses but can also work in another job outside of their businesses, to support themselves.

Getting endorsed

You must be endorsed by an authorised endorsing body that is either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

A new idea – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
Innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
Viable, with potential for growth


You must be at least 18 years old
You must not have previously set up a business in the UK
You may need to prove your knowledge of English language
You must have enough personal savings to support yourself while you are in the UK

How long you can stay

Successful Start-up visa applicants are granted leave for 2 years only.

You cannot apply to extend this visa.

At the end of 2 years, you can switch to the Innovator visa category to extend your stay for another 3 years. After 3 years, you will be able to settle permanently in the UK and obtain your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

12 months after obtaining the ILR you can apply for a British passport.

What you can and cannot do

You can:

Bring family members with you
Switch to this visa from some other visa categories
Work in another job, as well as working for your business

You cannot:

Get public funds
Work as a doctor or dentist in training
Work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
Settle in the UK on this visa

Switch to this visa

You may be able to switch to this visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you are already in the UK on one of the following visas:

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
Any Tier 2 visa
Tier 4 (General) student visa
Standard Visitor visa – you’ll need to get a supporting letter from an endorsing body to prove you’re looking for funding

To find out more about Start-Up visa, or if you need any advice in relation to your immigration options, please contact the Svetlova LLP team on +44 (0)207 129 129 6.