Start-up Visa


On 29 March 2019 the government’s new ‘start-up’ visa became available for applications. The visa replaces the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route. It is designed for the UK to attract the best global talent with a view to maintaining the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs as hoped by the government.
Essentially, the goal for this visa is to help attract ambitious people to set up businesses which it is hoped will drive growth by increasing levels of productivity and creating high-paid jobs for local residents, benefiting the economy as a whole.

You can apply for a Start-up visa if:

In relation to citizens of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, if they or their close family members were living in the UK before 1 January 2021, applications can be made to EU Settlement Scheme. A visa is otherwise required to work in the UK. Irish citizens are exempt from applying for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.


You must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either:

  • a UK higher education institution;
  • a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs;

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

Read the endorsing bodies list – you should only approach ones that are suitable for your business idea.
Where you are not eligible for a Start-up visa, you may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

You can stay for 2 years if you either:

  • come to the UK on a Start-up visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK

If you want to stay longer in the UK you cannot apply to extend this visa. However you may able to switch to an Innovator visa if you set up a business while on a Start-up visa and:

  • your endorsing body assessed and agreed it
  • it is active, trading and sustainable
  • you have day to day involvement in it

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.
You can only stay for a total of 2 years even if you’re granted a new visa with a new endorsement.

How to apply

You must apply online.
How you apply depends on whether you’re:

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible

How long it takes to get a visa

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.
You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within:

  • 3 weeks, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK

If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK


How much you pay for a Start-up visa depends on your situation and where you apply from. To check current fees, click here.

If you’re from an eligible country

Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re from one of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
This reduction only applies to your visa application. Your partner and children will still need to pay the full application fee.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

If you are applying to switch in the UK

You may need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

What you can and cannot do

You can:

  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
  • work in another job, as well as working for your business
  • travel abroad and return to the UK

You can also switch to this visa from some other visa categories.
You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • settle in the UK on this visa

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Start-up visa.

Documents you’ll need to apply

When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ to show that an endorsing body has assessed your business.
You’ll also need to provide:

  • a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £1270 in savings in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

If your documents are not in English or Welsh you’ll also need to provide a certified translation.
You’ll need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you’re:

  • from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein
  • from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but do not have a biometric passport with a chip in it

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

The information above can be found in full on the government website which you can access here.
Should you require any assistance, we are available to assist you.