The New Start-Up UK Visa Route
On 29 March 2019, the UKVI introduced a new immigration category known as the Start-Up UK Visa route. This route together with the Innovator route will be replacing the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) categories.
Is this Start-Up Route for You?
It depends on your intentions and circumstances. This category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. This category offers leave for 2 years. It does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but applicants may progress into the Innovator category below.
There are a number of requirements all Start-Up applicants will need to meet. These requirements are divided into two main categories: general and specific.
There are six general requirements.
According to these requirements, all applicants:
- Must be over the age of 18
- Can only switch from the following immigration categories: · Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) · Tier 2 · Tier 4 (General)(the restrictions apply) · a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur
- In addition to the above requirement, they must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal. I’ve explained what this means in a separate article
- need to prove to the decision makers that they are genuine applicants. However, generally, the UKVI will not carry out a credibility assessment for Start-up applications. This is because an endorsing body will already have assessed an applicant’s business plan. For this reason, the decision makers do not need to duplicate that assessment.
- The applicant must have at least a B2 level of English language ability, as defined in the Council of Europe’s common European framework for language and learning. This is unless one of the exemptions apply.
- For entry clearance, an applicant must show they have at least £945 of available funds, plus £630 funds for each dependant. You need to hold this amount in your bank account for at least a consecutive 90 days, ending no earlier than 31 days before the date of application.
Specific Requirements define the rules about endorsement, endorsement criteria and endorsement bodies.
All endorsements should come from endorsing body listed on the gov.uk website. They should be in the form of an endorsement letter. This letter should be in a specified format.
According to the Immigration Rules, there is no need for the applicants to be the sole founders of the business. They may be members of entrepreneurial teams.
Endorsement Criteria has three key components: Innovation, Viability and Scalability.
The innovation factor is satisfied when the applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage. Additionally, the business ides will be viable when you can prove that you have or are actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business. Furthermore, for the scalability factor, the applicant will need to provide evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.
Length of Your Visa and Conditions
When the application is successful, it will be for 2 years, minus the time already granted in Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Start-up categories. The standard conditions of ‘no recourse to public funds’, ‘registration with the police (if required)’, ‘no employment as a doctor or a dentist or a sportsperson’ will be imposed on your stay.