Everything you need to know about the Start-up visa

This article was updated by the Great British Mag team on 17 February 2021. 

If you are a budding entrepreneur and want to stay in the UK after graduating to launch a business, then you can apply for a Start-up visa. Keep reading to see what this visa offers and whether you might be eligible to apply. 

What is the Start-up visa?

The Start-up visa is for anyone who wants to set up a new and innovative business in the UK. So if, after you graduate, you want to stay in the UK to launch a new business, this might be the visa for you. 

What are the eligibility criteria for the Start-up visa?

There are quite a few requirements that must be met in order for you to be eligible for a Start-up visa, including: 

  • You have to be endorsed by either a UK university or a business organisation that supports UK entrepreneurs. 
  • The company you intend to set up must be new (you can’t join a pre-existing business)
  • Your venture must be original and have good growth potential
  • You’ll need to prove that you’re fluent in the English language if you’re not from an English-speaking country – but your degree can act as proof of this 
  • You need to be able to prove you have at least £1,270 in your banks account to support yourself. However, if you’ve been living in the UK for longer than a year and are planning on switching from your student visa this may not apply to you. 

How much does a Start-up visa cost?

If you are applying from outside the UK, the current cost is £363. If applying from within the UK, to switch from your current visa, the fee is £493. In addition, you will have to pay a healthcare surcharge of £624 for each year you’re planning to stay. 

How much investment will I need to be eligible?

Good news: to get the Start-up visa, you don’t need to have secured any investment funds for your new business.

In addition, if you successfully establish a business and switch to an Innovator visa to stay in the UK and run it, the investment requirement of £50,000 will be waived.

How long does it take to get a decision on my application?

You should hear back from the Home Office with a decision within three weeks if you’re applying from outside the UK, or eight weeks if you’re already here. 

How long is the Start-up visa valid for?

The Start-up visa is only valid for two years and is not extendable, but you might be able to switch to a different visa before it expires. The Innovator visa could be one option – it lasts for three years, is extendable and can lead to permanent residency. 

To be eligible for the innovator visa you’ll need to have set up a business that is active, be involved in the day-to-day running of it, and had it assessed and agreed upon by an endorsing body (you can find out more about endorsing bodies on the government’s website). 

What can you do on a Start-up visa?

You can set up a new business in the UK, and also work at another job alongside it. Partners and children may also be able to come with you to live in the UK.

You’re not able to claim most welfare benefits though, or use this visa to settle permanently (although if you switch to the Innovator visa in the future, that will be an option).

You may also want to read

What is the EU Settlement Scheme and what does it mean for students?

Can I stay and work in the UK after university?

Skilled worker visa guidance for students