The Start-up Visa is a new category of visa for non-European entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the UK and have a viable, scalable and innovative business idea which must be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body.
The Start-up Visa replaces the Tier 1(Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa and opened in March 2019 for entrepreneurs wanting to set up a business in the UK.
The UK remains keen to attract entrepreneurs and those with the business ideas and skills to set up business in the UK.
The business plan endorsement and visa application is a two-stage process. First, the applicant needs to get endorsement letter from an endorsing body for their business plan or idea.
Once, this is obtained, the applicant can submit their start-up visa application and necessary supporting documents with the Home Office.
There are no requirements under a start-up visa to invest a minimum amount of money into the business venture. The applicant needs to prove the endorsing body that his or her business plan is viable. They will need to satisfy the home office that they have a credible business plan under the home office assessment criteria.
If an Entrepreneur wants to start a new business in the UK and apply for a Start-up Visa the applicant’s business idea and plan must meet the following criteria:
The applicant must have a genuine, original business plan that meets a new or existing market need and/or creates a competitive advantage.
The applicant must have the skills, knowledge, and experience and market awareness to run the new business.
The applicant must be able to show evidence of the scalability of the business with the potential for job creation and growth into national markets.
Endorsement criteria for a start-up Visa:
Applicants for a Start-up visa have to obtain an endorsement letter from a Home Office approved endorsing body to submit with their Start-up Visa. If the business meets the Start-up Visa criteria, an endorsement letter will be provided and the endorsing body will have the responsibility of monitoring the business performance at regular intervals. Without an endorsement letter, an applicant for a Startup Visa cannot go on to submit their Start-up Visa application to the Home Office.
Endorsement bodies and Start-up Visa applications:
The endorsing bodies for Start-up Visas are either approved higher educational institutes or business organizations. The Home Office guidance states that an endorsing body has to have a proven record of supporting UK entrepreneurs and must be able to assess business plans against the endorsement criteria set out in the Immigration Rules.
The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies for Start-up visas and this list will be updated as endorsing bodies are added or removed from the list.
Length of a start-up Visa:
Start-up visa last for two years. A start-up visa cannot be extended. The applicant would have to apply to switch to an alternative visa which can be either an Innovator visa or any other suitable visa allowed under the Immigration Rules.
If an applicant has held a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa, then time accrued in the UK on that visa counts as part of the two-year Start-up Visa period.
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