Start-Up Visa. Frequently Asked Questions
The UK Start-up visa is for new entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in the UK for the first time. There is no need to be a graduate or have secured any initial funding. However, the proposed business has to be an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been approved by an endorsing body. Those who hold a start-up visa are permitted to work and engage in business activities in the UK. They can also be accompanied or joined by their dependants which includes spouse/unmarried partner and children.
Q: What is meant by innovative, viable and scalable?
A: Whilst each endorsing body will have their own slightly different criteria, the Immigration Rules do provide a general definition of each word. Innovation looks at whether the business idea is genuine and original, meeting current or future market needs. Viability is concerned with the skills and knowledge of the applicant and scalability addresses whether there is any evidence of structured and logical planning including consideration for job creation and business growth.
Q: Is there a limit to how many endorsements an endorsing body can issue?
A: The Home Office will only normally allocate 25 places to a new endorsing body. However, this number can be increased if the endorsing body provides an explanation as to why they need more. The endorsing body may tell you how many they have already issued upon request.
Q: Will I get a British Passport if I have a Start-up visa?
A: Unfortunately not. Start-up visas are one-off visas, meaning that they do not lead to settlement and in turn, British nationality. The initial start-up visa will be valid for 2 years. Prior to the expiry of the initial visa, start-up visa holders may extend their stay in the UK by switching to the Innovator visa category if they continue to hold endorsement from an endorsing body. The Innovator category can lead to settlement after a further 3 years. One year after obtaining settlement, you can apply to become British.
Q: Once I get endorsed by an endorsing body, am I then left to my own devices?
A: The endorsing bodies tend to become your mentor, guiding you through the process of becoming an entrepreneur. As such, the Home Office request that they regularly check on your progress. This tends to be in the form of meetings 6 months and then 12 months after your visa has been approved. The aim of these meetings is to ensure that you are making reasonable progress with your business.
Q: The endorsing body is trying to charge me for an endorsement, is this allowed?
A: The Home Office has provided strict limitations as to what an endorsing body can charge to an applicant. In general they are able to charge you for any services that they also provide to non-start-up applicants, such as office space or mentoring. This can include membership to the programme that may lead to an endorsement. However, if they do charge for this, they cannot charge you more because you are a prospective start-up applicant. Further, they can charge for additional services that are not available to non-start-up applicants, providing it is not a mandatory service needed for start-up visa endorsement. They cannot charge for considering an application, monitoring your progress or any other action or service directly related to your immigration matter.
Q: I have obtained an endorsement, will my immigration application definitely be approved?
A: The endorsement is not the end of the process, but effectively the start. The Home Office will of course consider your endorsement, but they will also look at other factors such as:
- Is the evidence you submitted genuine and credible;
- Your previous educational, work and immigration history; and
- Any other relevant information
The Home Office can also contact the endorsing body to request further information or evidence and even call you for an interview.
Q: Can I bring my family to the UK with me?
A: Absolutely. You can bring your family members, such as your spouse or unmarried partner and dependent children under the age of 18. Your family members will be issued a visa for the same duration as your visa. They will then need to switch with you if you are switching to an Innovator visa after two years on a start-up visa. They can make this application from inside the UK with you.
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