UK Start Up Visa Requirements for 2019 and 2020

The following are the UK start up visa requirements in 2019:

  • You must meet the UK start up visa endorsement requirement
  • You must meet the UK start up visa maintenance requirement
  • You must evidence that you do not have Tuberculosis (TB), if you are applying from outside the UK from certain countries
  • You must meet the UK start up visa English language requirement
  • You must not fail any UK start up visa credibility assessments
  • You must not be in breach of immigration laws if you are submitting the application from inside the UK.
  • You cannot previously have been granted 2 years’ leave in the  Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and Start up categories
  • You must satisfy the UK start up visa immigration status requirement if the application is being made from inside the UK
  • You must be an early-stage entrepreneur
  • You cannot have previously established a business in the UK
  • You must be aged 18 or over on the date of decision
  • Your application must not fall foul of the General grounds for refusal
  • You must pay the UK start up visa home office processing fee
  • You must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge
  • You must meet additional requirements if you are applying as a Tier 4 (General) student in the UK
  • You must meet additional requirements if you have already been granted leave as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • You must meet additional requirements if you have already been granted leave in the UK start up visa category
  • You must submit certain specified documentation for UK start up visas

We will now discuss each of these UK start up visa requirements in more detail.


REQUIREMENT 1

You must meet the UK start up visa endorsement requirement

If you fall into any of the criteria below, you can apply under the UK Start Up visa category:

  • Working on your own as a sole founder, or working together as part of an entrepreneurial team
  • Presenting a new business idea – the business may or may not already exist, but should not yet have fully started trading
  • Presenting an idea in any sector – there are no restrictions (for example, relating to property development, as under the previous Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category), providing the idea is sufficiently innovative, viable and scalable
  • Developing other businesses as well as your main idea

You must submit a detailed business plan to an approved Home Office endorsement body who will assess whether your business venture meets their specific assessment criteria.

The Home Office will not provide advice on how to choose a particular endorsing body. You can find an updated endorsing bodies list on the Start-up and Innovator sections of the gov.uk website.

You must demonstrate that 3 key business criteria are met.  These are Innovation, Viability and Scalability.  You are encouraged to carefully prepare a business proposal and to promote that your idea meets new or existing market needs, that you dispose of the necessary skills, experience and market knowledge for your business venture to be a success.

If your proposal is approved, you will be granted an endorsement.  The endorsement takes the form of a letter which must be submitted as part of your UK Start Up visa application.

A valid endorsement letter contains all of the following information:

  • The name of endorsing body
  • The endorsement reference number
  • The date of issue (which must be no earlier than 3 months before the date of application)
  • Your name, date of birth, nationality and passport number
  • Confirm that you have not previously established a business in the UK
  • A short description of your business venture and the products or services it provides (or will provide) to its customers
  • The name and contact details of an individual at the endorsing body who can verify the contents of the letter to the Home Office
  • Confirm that your business venture is innovative, viable and scalable in accordance with the rules set out in part W5.2 of Appendix W.  However, this confirmation is not required if your last grant of leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category. Instead, the endorsement letter must confirm that your business venture is genuine and credible
  • Confirm the endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that you will spend your entire working time in the UK on developing business ventures

However, an endorsement letter is no longer valid and will not be accepted by a decision maker, if:

  • It is dated more than 3 months before the date of application
  • It has been withdrawn by the endorsing body
  • The endorsing body has lost its status at the date of decision

REQUIREMENT 2

You must meet the UK start up visa maintenance requirement

You must provide supporting evidence to satisfactorily demonstrate that you can support yourself and any dependent family member(s) for whom you also submit application(s) .  This may take the form of funds personally available to you or confirmation in your endorsement letter that the maintenance requirement shall be met by an approved Home Office endorsement body.

If providing evidence of your personal funds, the evidence provided must demonstrate:

  • You dispose of at least £945 for yourself, plus an additional £630 for each dependent family member(s) application(s) submitted
  • You dispose of cash funds and that these funds are held in one account or across multiple accounts for which you are named as the account holder
  • The required level of funds have been held for a consecutive 90 day period with the date of the last closing balance dating less than 28 days before the date the application is submitted

The evidence provided must:

  • Meet the specified criteria showing you dispose of sufficient personal savings to maintain yourself plus any dependent family member(s)

You evidence provided must not be:

  • Shares, bonds, credit cards, overdraft facilities or pension funds.
  • Money earned whilst working in the UK illegally or money earned in breach of the Immigration Rules

Funds in one or more foreign currencies must be converted into pounds sterling (£) as per the exchange rate on the day the funds were available using www.oanda.com

If your valid endorsement letter confirms that an approved Home Office endorsing body has awarded you the appropriate funds to cover the maintenance costs of yourself and any dependent family member(s), then you do not need to provide any evidence of your personal funds.

If the maintenance requirement is not met, your entire visa application falls to be refused.


REQUIREMENT 3

You must evidence that you do not have Tuberculosis (TB), if you are applying from outside the UK from certain countries

TB tests are mandatory if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in any of these listed countries.

However, if you fall in any of the categories below, you do not need to be tested:

  • You are a diplomat accredited to the UK
  • You are a returning UK resident and have not been away for more than 2 years
  • You lived for at least 6 months in a country where TB screening is not required by the UK, and you have been away from that country for no more than 6 months

The TB test takes the form of a chest X ray.  If the result of the X ray is not clear, then you may also be asked to give a sputum sample (phlegm coughed up from your lungs).  If you do not have TB, you will be given a TB certificate which is valid for 6 months. This certificate must be submitted with your visa application.

For applications for dependent children – you must take your child to an approved clinic and complete a health questionnaire. Clinicians will decide if children need a chest X ray. If the clinician decides your child does not have TB, they will issue a TB certificate which is valid for 6 months.   This certificate must be submitted with their visa application.

Pregnant women can decide between an X ray with an extra shield, a sputum test or to wait until after delivery.  If a pregnant woman does not want to be tested, she can use an X ray taken within the last 3 months at a UK-approved screening clinic and reviewed by a clinician at an approved clinic.  If it is accepted, the clinician will furnish a certificate which must be submitted with the visa application.


REQUIREMENT 4

You must meet the UK start up visa English language requirement

In order to meet the English language requirement, you are required to show that you meet the B2 standard of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language and Learning in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

You can satisfy this requirement in one of several ways, as outlined below:

  • Passing an approved English Language test with minimum CEFR level 2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening by an approved provider – listed in Appendix O –  and taken at a Secure English Language Test Centre
  • Holding an academic qualification taught in English and recognised by UK NARIC as equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree, Masters degree or PhD
  • Having a previous successful application under the categories of Start-up visa, Innovator visa, Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion), Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned on or after 21 April 2011

because you already proved your knowledge of English to be level B2 or above.  However, if false documents were included or material facts were not disclosed in a previous application, whether or not to your knowledge, your application will fail the English language requirement.

  • As a national of a majority English speaking country, listed below:
    • Antigua and Barbuda
    • Australia
    • the Bahamas
    • Barbados
    • Belize
    • Canada
    • Dominica
    • Grenada
    • Guyana
    • Jamaica
    • New Zealand
    • St Kitts and Nevis
    • St Lucia
    • St Vincent and the Grenadines
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • USA

REQUIREMENT 5

You must not fail any of the required UK start up visa credibility assessments

As a Home Office approved endorsing body has already assessed your business plan, your business venture will not be assessed again by a decision maker.  However, if the decision maker has any doubts about the overall credibility of your application, a credibility assessment will be conducted.  This may include an assessment of your previous employment, educational or immigration history within the UK or outside the UK, any declarations made by you to any UK government department, the credibility of the information submitted or any previous successful or unsuccessful visa applications.  A decision maker also reserves the right to conduct any further verifications on any supporting evidence or information submitted, or to obtain further information or evidence from your approved Home Office endorsing body or any other source.  You may also be invited to attend a further interview.  Note that any requests for additional information must comply with the instructions set out by the decision maker.  Failure to do so may result in the refusal of your application.

Your application will be assessed based on the strength of all of the information available to the decision maker at the time of assessment.

If your application falls for refusal under any other grounds, the decision maker reserves the right not to undertake any additional form of credibility assessments or reconsider any decision.


REQUIREMENT 6

You must not be in the UK in breach of the Immigration Rules, unless you fall under one of the exceptions outlined in Paragraph 39E in Part 1 of the Immigration Rules


REQUIREMENT 7

You cannot previously have been granted 2 years’ leave in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and UK Start up categories

You cannot submit a UK Start Up visa application if:

  • You were previously granted a visa as a UK Start Up migrant for the maximum total period of 2 years
  • You were previously granted two visas as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur migrant

REQUIREMENT 8

You must satisfy the UK start up visa immigration status requirement if the application is being made from inside the UK

You must apply in the same category as your last visa, or switch from an eligible category if applying from within the UK.


REQUIREMENT 9

You must be an early-stage entrepreneur

If you are an experienced entrepreneur, you may wish to consider submitting an application under the Innovator visa category instead.


REQUIREMENT 10

You cannot have previously established a business in the UK

You cannot apply if you have previously established a business in the UK, unless your approved Home Office endorsement body withdrew your previous endorsement and your original visa period was curtailed.


REQUIREMENT 11

You must be aged 18 or over on the date of decision


REQUIREMENT 12

Your application must not fall foul of the General grounds for refusal

Your application must not fall for refusal under any of the General Grounds for Refusal detailed in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.


REQUIREMENT 13

You must pay the UK start up visa home office processing fee

Processing fees will differ depending on whether you apply from within the UK or outside the UK, or whether you submit additional visa application(s) for your dependent family member(s)

The table below sets out current fees:

Who you are applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
Yourself £363 £493
If you are a citizen of Macedonia £308 $438
All dependants £363 each person £493 each person

REQUIREMENT 14

You must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge

As part of your visa application, you are required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) costs.  Note that each additional application submitted for your dependent family member(s) must also pay IHS costs. You can check costs here.

You must apply using the correct application forms.

If you are making the application from outside the UK, click here.

If you are switching into the UK Start Up visa category, click here.


REQUIREMENT 15

You must meet additional requirements if you are applying as a Tier 4 (General) student in the UK

If you were previously granted a Tier 4 (General) visa, you must meet the requirements below.

a) You were sponsored as a Tier 4 (General) Student by one of the following:

i) A UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education provider from:

    • The Office for Students
    • The Scottish Funding Council
    • The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
    • The Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland
    • Any other provider registered with the Office for Students

ii) An overseas higher education institution to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the United Kingdom

iii) An Embedded College offering Pathway Courses

iv) An independent school

(b) If you were sponsored for your studies in the UK by a government or international scholarship agency, and the sponsorship is ongoing or ended less than 12 months before the date of application, you must:

i) Have been granted unconditional written consent to make the application by your sponsoring government or agency

ii) Provide a letter from an authorised official from each sponsoring organisation confirming this – the letter must contain contact details as information may be verified


REQUIREMENT 16

You must meet additional requirements if you have already been granted leave as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

To be granted leave to remain under the UK Start Up route, you must meet all of the requirements of an initial Start Up application.

But, depending on your circumstances, the following may apply:

  • If your endorsement is from the same approved Home Office endorsement body that granted your last endorsement which led to your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, your endorsing body does not need to assess whether you business idea is innovative or scalable
  • You may have a previously established business in the UK
  • You will be granted a maximum total of 2 years leave, which will take into account any previous period of time spent as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start Up migrant
  • Your application will be refused if previously granted the maximum total of 2 years under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur ) route

REQUIREMENT 17

You must meet additional requirements if you have already been granted leave in the UK start up visa category

Only apply for a new UK Start Up visa if your previous endorsement was withdrawn by an approved Home Office endorsement body and your visa was curtailed.  Note that you must still meet all of the same requirements as those of an initial Start Up visa application, but the following conditions apply:

  • You can have an established a business in the UK
  • Your visa will be granted for a maximum total period of 2 years, which will include any time previously spent in the UK as a Start Up migrant
  • Your application will be refused if you have already spent 2 years in the UK under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and/or Start up routes
  • You must not have been in breach of the Immigration Rules, except for any period of overstaying allowed by the Immigration Rules

REQUIREMENT 18

You must submit certain specified documentation for UK start up visas

The supporting evidence must meet specific requirements and be received by the Home Office before the date the application is assessed.  If specified evidence is missing, or in the incorrect format, the decision maker may contact you or your representative in writing to request the correct documents.  Any additional evidence requested must comply with the instructions set out by the decision maker.  Note that additional supporting documents will not be requested if the application falls for refusal for other reasons or if the decision maker is satisfied missing information is verifiable from other sources.

You must provide all of the following supporting documents:

#1 A valid endorsement letter from an approved Home Office endorsement body in the correct format which contains all of the specified information – Requirement 1 refers


#2 A current passport or a valid travel document with a blank page to affix your visa vignette


#3 Supporting evidence to show you meet the maintenance requirement for yourself and any dependent family member(s)

You must show that you dispose of sufficient funds to support yourself plus any dependent family member(s) in the UK.

You must:

  • Demonstrate funds of at least £945 for yourself, plus an additional £630 for each dependent family member application(s) submitted
  • Provide evidence in the form of cash funds held in one account or across multiple accounts in your name.  The documents provided must cover a consecutive 90 day period with the date of the last closing balance dating less than 28 days before the date the application is submitted

The evidence of cash funds provided must fall into one of the following forms:

  • Personal bank or building society statements
  • A building society pass book
  • A letter from your bank or building society
  • A letter from another financial institution regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) for the purpose of personal savings accounts
  • A letter from an overseas financial institution regulated by the official regulatory body for the country in which the institution operates and the funds are located
  • The evidence of cash funds provided must contain all of the following information:
    • The name of the account holder
    • The account number
    • The financial institution’s name and logo
    • That the funds in the account have been at the required level throughout the 90-day period
    • The date of each document
    • In the case of personal bank or building society statements, any transactions during the 90-day period

Bank or building society statements must not be mini-statements from automatic teller machines (ATMs) and must be one of the following:

  • Statements printed on the bank or building society’s letterhead
  • Electronic statements, accompanied by a supporting letter from the bank or building society, on company headed paper, confirming the statements are authentic
  • Electronic statements, bearing the official stamp of the bank or building society on every page

The end date of the 90-day period will be taken as the date of the closing balance on the most recent document provided. Where documents from two or more accounts are submitted, this will be the end date of the account with the highest closing balance.

If funds are in one or more foreign currencies, funds must be converted to pounds sterling (£) as per the exchange rate on the day the funds were available, using www.oanda.com

However, if your endorsement letter confirms that an approved Home Office endorsement body has awarded you sufficient funds to cover the maintenance costs of yourself and any dependent family member(s), then you do not need to evidence you meet the maintenance requirement.


#4 English language documentation

You must meet the English language requirement.  This can be met in one of several ways:

i) Provide your current valid passport or travel document showing you are a national of a majority English speaking country:

      • Antigua and Barbuda
      • Australia
      • The Bahamas
      • Barbados
      • Belize
      • Canada
      • Dominica
      • Grenada
      • Guyana
      • Jamaica
      • New Zealand
      • St Kitts and Nevis
      • St Lucia
      • St Vincent and the Grenadines
      • Trinidad and Tobago
      • United States of America (USA)

If you cannot provide either your current valid original passport or travel document, you must provide all of the following:

      1. Full reasons why you cannot provide the documents (acceptable reasons are because the documents are lost, stolen, held elsewhere in the Home Office, or have expired and have been returned to the relevant authorities)
      2. A current national identity document
      3. An original letter from your home government or embassy, which confirms your full name, date of birth and nationality

ii) You hold an academic degree, Master’s or PhD from a UK University and provide the original certificate of the award, unless either of the following applies:

      • You are awaiting graduation, having successfully completed the qualification.
      • You no longer have the certificate and the awarding institution is unable to provide a replacement.

If you cannot provide the original certificate of the award, you must provide an academic transcript (or letter in the case of a PhD qualification) from the awarding institution.

iii) You hold an academic degree that was taught in English from a university outside the UK

You must provide the original certificate award, unless either of the following applies:

      • You are awaiting graduation, having successfully completed the qualification.
      • You no longer have the certificate and the awarding institution is unable to provide a replacement.

If you cannot provide the original certificate of the award, you must provide an academic transcript (or letter in the case of a PhD qualification) from the awarding institution.

In addition to this, you will also need to submit evidence from UK NARIC that confirms:

      1. That the qualification meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK
      2. That the qualification was taught or researched in English to be the required level unless it was awarded in one of the following countries:
        • Antigua and Barbuda
        • Australia
        • The Bahamas
        • Barbados
        • Belize
        • Dominica
        • Grenada
        • Guyana
        • Ireland
        • Jamaica
        • New Zealand
        • St Kitts and Nevis
        • St Lucia
        • St Vincent and The Grenadines
        • Trinidad and Tobago
        • United States of America

iv) You have passed a Secure English Language Test from a provider listed in Appendix O of the Immigration Rules and taken at a Secure English Language Test centre.

You must have met or exceeded the required level in all four components of the English test – reading, speaking, listening and writing – unless you are exempted.

You must provide the unique reference number of the test, which will be verified by the Home Office using the test centre’s secure online verification database.

v) You are relying on meeting the requirement in a previous or successful application in one of the following categories:

    • Start-up visa
    • Innovator visa
    • Tier 1 (General)
    • Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)
    • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) under the rules in place before 13 December 2012
    • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
    • Tier 4 (General), supported by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) assigned on or after 21 April 2011

You will not meet the English language requirement if false information or documents, whether or not to your knowledge, were included in a previous successful application.

It is recommended to include a cover letter to outline you meet the English language requirement on the basis of a previous successful visa application and include any supporting documentation previously submitted.


#5 A business plan

Your business plan must satisfy an approved Home Office endorsement body that you meet 3 key assessment criteria – Innovation, Viability and Scalability.  It is recommended that you prepare a detailed business proposal and include any information that may be relevant to show you have the competencies to set up a genuine business idea with potential for growth and future development.


#6 Document translations

All supporting documents provided must be in English or Welsh. If they are not, you must provide the original document accompanied by a full translation which has been independently verified.

The translation must:

  • Confirm that it is an accurate translation of the original document
  • Be dated
  • Include the full name and signature of the translator or an authorised official of the translation company
  • Include the translator or translation company’s contact details
  • Be fully certified and include details of the translator or translation company’s credentials, if applying in the UK

#7 Tuberculosis certificate (if you are applying from a country where you have to take the test)

TB tests are mandatory if you are coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in any of these listed countries.

However, if you fall in any of the categories below, you do not need to be tested:

  • You are a diplomat accredited to the UK
  • You are a returning UK resident and have not been away for more than 2 yearsYou lived for at least 6 months in a country where TB screening is not required by the UK, and you have been away from that country for no more than 6 months

The TB test takes the form of a chest X ray.  If the result of the X ray is not clear, then you may also be asked to give a sputum sample (phlegm coughed up from your lungs).  If you do not have TB, you will be given a TB certificate which is valid for 6 months. This certificate must be submitted with your visa application.

For applications for dependent children – you must take your child to an approved clinic and complete a health questionnaire. Clinicians will decide if children need a chest X ray. If the clinician decides your child does not have TB, they will issue a TB certificate which is valid for 6 months.   This certificate must be submitted with their visa application.

Pregnant women can decide between an X ray with an extra shield, a sputum test or to wait until after delivery.  If a pregnant woman does not want to be tested, she can use an X ray taken within the last 3 months at a UK-approved screening clinic and reviewed by a clinician at an approved clinic.  If it is accepted, the clinician will furnish a certificate which you must be submitted with the visa application.


#8 Cover/supporting letter

It is recommended that you include a cover letter with your application form in order to outline how the information and supporting documents you have included meets the requirements of the Immigration Rules.  It also offers you an opportunity to explain any elements particular to your personal circumstances, which is not covered in the questions on the application form.


#9 If you are switching into the UK Start up visa category, evidence of your last grant of leave

Remember, switching is open to applicants who have, or were last granted a visa as a:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • Tier 4 (General) – the restrictions in paragraph W3.4 apply
  • A visitor –  undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V

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

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