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Startup or Innovator Visa - Launched in March 2019

At The end of March 2019, The UK government has finally announced 2 years ‘UK Startup Visa’ with no heavy requirements of money held in a bank account (funding) and capital initially to apply for the visa. The main thing is that people with no graduation will also be able to apply for this program. UK startup visa program is in action from 29 March 2019. This new visa is aimed at aspiring and ambitious non-European young businessmen who want to set up business in the UK. Previously, it was UKBA caseworkers to look at the business proposals for TIER 1 visa streams, but for this new startup visa, there will be newly announced endorsement bodies to decide whether the applicant is good enough to be funded and endorsed. This visa will well be a great replacement for an Entrepreneur visa to set up a business in the UK.


In order to apply for this visa program, you need to meet certain requirements. For doing so, you must:

  • be from non-EEA countries

  • have a good business plan that could help the economy of the UK

  • have had received an endorsement from one of the endorsement bodies assigned by the UK government

  • have £945 in your personal bank account for the consecutive 90 days before you submit your visa application


In addition to the above, you must also have certain English proficiency requirements such as:

  • a test result of approved English language tests at the level of at least CEFR B2 in reading, writing, listening and speaking.

  • having an academic degree that was taught in English medium of instruction and is recognized by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or Ph.D.

You do not need to prove above mentioned English level requirements if you are a citizen of 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, and the USA.

⇒ Important to know:

The processing timing for this visa is 3 weeks after applying. You may apply 3 months in advance for the visa before the intended travel date. The visa duration is 2 years and it cannot be extended. 


The Startup category is for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs starting a business in the UK for the first time.


  • 2 year visa, with option to switch to the Innovator visa after 2 years

  • Primary work is to build a business

  • Can take on work outside the main business

  • Family members can come to the UK

  • No funds needed to apply

  • Must be founder’s first UK business


The Innovator category is for more experienced business people seeking to establish a business in the UK.


  • 3-year visa, with option, to apply to extend stay for a further 3 years or to settle permanently in the UK.*

  • Sole work must be to build a business

  • May not take on other employment outside the main business

  • Family members can come to the UK

  • Minimum of £50,000 available funds required before application

  • Must be founder’s first UK business


You will have to pay online a certain amount as a visa fee which is:

startup fee.png

⇒Important to know: You may have to pay healthcare surcharge. You can calculate it here.

Documents required applying for the visa online

Depending upon your personal circumstances, you may need to provide some extra documents to support your visa applicant, but the following are the major one:

  • a current valid computerized passport (there must be a blank page in it to stamp the visa)

  • tuberculosis test results (TB test report) if you are from certain countries)

  • Certified English translation of your supporting documents if they are not in English or Welsh.

  • academic qualifications (optional but important)

  • work experience documents (optional but important)

  • bank statement of last three months with a saving of £945 held for consecutive days

  • endorsement letter from endorsement bodies

  • English language proficiency certificate at CEFR B2 level for all four modules (for example IELTS with minimum 5.5 band score). 


One really important factor that allows you to apply for this visa is an endorsement letter from authorized endorsement bodies. Some of these do this free of cost for you but some do charge an amount for the process. They not only examine your business plan but also support you financially to set up the business in the UK. Even after reaching the UK and working, these bodies keep on you an eye if you perform well or not. In some cases, they may withdraw your endorsement. If you first time applies for the endorsement letter and gets a refusal, you will next time be able to apply again with a better business plan. Though the UKBA does not ask for any academic degree, the endorsement bodies may do so and additionally may well also ask for your previous experience for setting up a new business. There are two types of endorsing bodies; business endorsing bodies and HEI (higher education institutions) endorsing bodies.

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