The Start-up visa category is suitable for overseas entrepreneurs looking to start a new business in the UK. This route comes to replace the old Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category which has been closed to new applicants since 29 March 2019.

You can apply for a Start-up visa with any business idea provided it is innovative and viable. If your business already exists, you can still apply, as long as the business is not fully trading. As a start-up, you can work on your own or as part of an entrepreneurial team. Your Start-Up visa will be granted for 2 years, after which you can apply for an Innovator visa to extend your stay in the UK.


Before you can apply for your visa, you should contact an endorsing body who can be either universities or approved business sponsors that will assess your business idea against their own criteria, which includes assessing your detailed business plan and potentially include inviting you for an interview. If successful, you will receive an endorsement letter and long-term support to develop your business in the UK. Some endorsing bodies may be able to offer you some financial support in exchange for a share in your business.


In contrast to the old Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, there are no investment funds required to be invested in the business. You must still show that you have sufficient funds of at least £1,270 for your maintenance in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you can apply. If you wish to apply with your dependent family members, you will need to show additional funds for their maintenance.

Other requirements

As with most visa categories, you must be at least 18 years old to apply and meet the English Language requirement.

Once you receive your Start-up visa, you should note that the following conditions will apply to your stay in the UK in this category.

You will be permitted the following activities on your Start-up visa:

  • Set up your own business or businesses
  • Work for your own business or businesses
  • Bring your dependent family members
  • Switch to another visa category without leaving the UK


You will not be able to do the following in the UK on your Start-Up visa:

  • Claim public funds (most benefits)
  • Receive State Pension
  • Work as a professional sportsperson
  • Settle in the UK*

*you will need to switch to an Innovator visa upon completing 2 years on a Start-Up visa, which will allow you to settle in the UK

Fairmont Lawyers can help you match your business idea with an appropriate endorsing body and provide you with professional legal assistance every step of the way to obtain a Start-Up visa.


The Home Office has published a list of authorised endorsing bodies for Start-up Visa applications. You can find the most recently updated list here: . The webpage contains links to the endorsing bodies’ websites and information about the application process and endorsement criteria.

Depending on your individual circumstances, we may be able to advise you in selecting the most suitable endorsing body for your Start-Up application.

Unfortunately, no. The Start-up visa category is designed for people looking to set up a new business in the UK for the first time.

This is possible, but each member of your Start-Up team will need to obtain their own individual endorsement from an endorsing body.

Yes you can, but your endorsing body will need to be satisfied that you continue working and developing your business and can show reasonable progress.

The current visa application fee for a Start-Up visa (from October 2021) is £363 for applications made outside the UK and £493 for applications inside the UK (plus £19.20 foe biometric enrolment if you are in the UK). The Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) is £624 per each year of the visa unless you are exempt. The fees are the same for your dependents. The Home Office reviews its fees and these may be subject to increase in the future.

It takes around:

  • 3 weeks if you apply from outside the UK
  • 8 weeks if you apply from inside the UK

However, some delays may occur depending on your individual circumstances or the Home Office/UKVI.

You may be able to choose Priority Service, subject to availability. You will need to pay an additional fee to use this service, and the cost depends on the visa centre.

Your endorsing body must confirm that you have demonstrated enough progress to meet the “Innovator – same business” criteria. If you are successful, you will be able to switch to an Innovator category without the need to show the required funds of £50,000. The Innovator visa will enable you to settle in the UK if you meet other settlement eligibility criteria.