The Start-up visa operates outside of the UK immigration Points Based System. This new immigration route allows non-EU citizens to set up a business in the UK. To apply, the applicant first has to get his/her business idea endorsed by an authorised body. The Start-up visa is granted for two years, but it is possible to switch to another visa category. The advantage of the Start-up visa is that there are no investment requirements or the need for the involvement of a UK employer.
Endorsement by an approved body for the Start-up visa
The first step to applying for the Start-up visa is to obtain endorsement by a Home Office approved body. The authorised body will either be a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.
The approved body will assess the business idea. The idea must be new, innovative and original with a potential for growth. It is not possible to join or invest in an existing business.
The Home Office publishes a list of endorsing bodies. Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants will be able to assist applicants in getting endorsed by an approved body. We will provide clients with full guidance in this matter.
How to qualify for the Start-up visa
After getting endorsement by an authorised body, applicants will have to fulfil some other criteria to qualify.
Applicants have to be 18 years or older.
You will have to fulfil the English language requirement. You will have to pass an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Alternatively, you will have to be a national from a recognised English speaking country. It is also possible to fulfil the English language requirement if you have an academic qualification taught in English, recognised by UK NARIC as equivalent to a UK degree.
You have to prove that you can support yourself and any dependents on your visa. You will have to show that you have at least £945 in your bank for 90 consecutive days. If you have dependents applying there is an additional amount of £630 per dependent.
Switching to the Start-up Visa
It is possible to apply to switch to the Start-up visa from one of the following categories; Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), any of the Tier 2 routes, Tier 4 (General) student visa.
Applicants who switch from Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa need not prove that their business is a new idea with growth potential.
It is also possible to switch to the Start-up visa from a standard visitor visa. In such a case, you have to provide a supporting letter from the endorsing body. In all other cases, an applicant will have to leave the UK, and apply from outside the UK.
Length of Stay and right to work
You can stay in the UK for two years on the Start-up visa. It is not possible to extend the visa beyond two years.
You will be allowed to work in your start-up business and another job.
If you have already spent time in the UK on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, this, unfortunately, counts as part of these two years.
Spouses and Dependents of the Start-up
You can apply for your spouse /civil partner /unmarried partner and children under 18 years to join you in the UK. If your child is over 18, and currently in the UK as a dependent, they can also qualify.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
Unfortunately, the Start-up visa does not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain.
It is, however, possible to apply to switch to another immigration category that does lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain, such as the Innovator visa.
How to apply for the Start-up Visa
Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants have a highly trained and experienced team of consultations dealing with business visas. Contact us today to arrange a consultation.