UK Startup Visas for Entrepreneurs: 5 points you need to know

Are you an entrepreneur looking to start a new business in the UK? 

Have you got a new business idea that you believe can flourish?

This article will walk you through what you need to know in order to apply for the UK Startup Visa. It breaks down the process into 5 simple points that you must know before applying. 

Note that we also offer the UK Self Sponsorship Programme (Skilled Worker Visa) for Entrepreneurs

What the Startup Visa is 

The Startup Visa has been made to bring exciting business people with bright business ideas to the UK. The government wants the best new businesses to be made and developed within the UK and this visa is a means in which to do that. 

What the Startup Visa allows you to:

  • Move to the UK for two years to start your business. 
  • Work in another job as well as your business. 
  • Travel from the UK and be able to return. 

The visa only lasts for two years and you cannot re-apply. If you wanted to stay in the UK you would have to apply for a different visa – for instance the Innovator Visa.

With the Startup Visa you can bring your partner and child with you to the UK if they’re eligible. You will need to prove your relationships with anyone who applies to come to the UK with you.

How you qualify

The first box to tick in order to qualify is that you have a new business idea. It has to be different to anything else in the market. 

That doesn’t mean you have to create a totally new concept or product but it just has to be different to businesses already operating in the market.

To successfully gain a Startup Visa you will need a supporting letter from an endorsing body, such as Boardroom Advisors, attached to your application. An endorsing body is authorised by the Home Office in the UK that will offer support for your business and believes in its potential for success. 

You must also meet the English language requirement and be able to prove this. 

What are the financial requirements

To apply for the Startup Visa you must be over 18 and be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you live in the UK 

The specific amount you need to prove is that you have at least £1270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before applying. 

How to apply

You have to apply for the Startup Visa online. How you apply depends on whether you are applying from outside the UK or within (switching from a different visa).

Documents you will need to apply:

  • To prove your identity you will need a valid passport or another document that proves your identity and nationality. 
  • You will have to provide your tuberculosis test results (if you’re moving from a country that requires a test).
  • You need bank statements proving you have had £1270 in your bank for 28 consecutive days. 
  • Proof that you meet the English language requirement

All of your documents will have to be translated into English by a certified translator. 

After applying online and submitting all of your documents, you will find out the results within:

  • 3 weeks if you’re applying from outside the UK.
  • 8 weeks if you’re applying from inside the UK. 

How much it will cost

The cost of applying for a Startup Visa depends on where you’re applying from. If you’re applying from outside of the UK, it will cost £363 and an added £363 for anyone added to the application. 

If you’re applying from within the UK then it will cost £493 with an added £493 for anyone added to the application. 

You will have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application and you can find out how much that would cost here. 

To summarise

The UK Government wants the best businesses of the future to be in the UK. This Startup Visa allows you to bring your great business idea to the UK where it can begin its journey and grow. 

There is more information about the Startup Visa on the GOV website and when your application has been successful you will receive a full list of what you can do under the Startup Visa. 

Caveat: These details were correct at the time of publication and see the GOV website for the current situation.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.