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Is the UK Start-up visa right for me?

As the UK Home Office continues its post-Brexit push to bring highly talented individuals from overseas into the UK, one of the most interesting visas available in this category could be the UK Start-up visa.

This visa is aimed at attracting overseas talent who have interest in starting a new business within the UK, although they may currently reside elsewhere. This visa category is highly competitive and when you take a look at the entry requirements in comparison with other visas of this type, such as the high potential individual visa or sponsor licence visa, it can be easy to see why it has an additional appeal. That shouldn’t make people believe however than it’s an easy route into the UK for an individual, as the burden of evidence required for a successful application is quite high.

While on the surface the criteria for entry are that a candidate must be over the age of 18, can provide proof of English language skill up to a B2 level on the CEFR scale, and have a business idea which can be considered innovative, viable and scalable, there is one criteria which is of higher importance.

The Home Office has compiled a list of organisations who can act as an endorsing body for your business idea. These organisations cover many different fields of business and research, and it is their approval you must gain in order to apply for this visa. Ultimately, their view of whether or not your business meets the innovative, viable and scalable criteria could make or break your application. Their involvement in your application isn’t simply a green light however. The endorsing body will submit a letter of support for your application, and they will continue to monitor the progress of your business throughout the first two years of trading. They will contact you after 6, 12 and 24 months to ensure your business is progressing inline with your stated goals.

While the start-up visa is designed to allow an individual to move to the UK to start and develop a business, it’s important to note that the visa has a maximum validity of 5 years and cannot be extended. Those who enter the country through the start-up route are not eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of the visas term and would be expected to return to their country of origin or move on to a 3rd country. While this may seem counterintuitive and some people would wonder why a route that allows you to establish a business in one country, wouldn’t allow for you to remain there, there is a solution to this issue.

Those pursuing the start-up visa route, are able to apply for the innovator visa 2 years into the 5 year term. If this application is successful, then holding the innovator visa grants the opportunity to apply for indefinite leave to remain if you meet the other eligibility requirements. It’s important to remember that not everyone who holds the start-up visa will be eligible to apply for the innovator visa, as there are a few additional requirements such as a minimum of £50,000 to invest in a business. You will also need to prove to the Home Office that your bank account has maintained a minimum balance of at least £1270 throughout the 28 days prior to applying. This will help to demonstrate a level of avcılar escort financial stability required to support yourself in the UK without the need to rely on state benefits.

As we have already stated, the start-up visa is highly competitive but it’s also true that it has a high rate of success in comparison with the applications this visa type receives each year since its introduction. The visa had an application success rate of 93.17% in 2019 and 97.21% in 2020. This is incredibly positive in terms of success rate, but it should be stressed that matching that success will require a large amount of preparatory work and documentation to support your application.

As such, this is not a visa that someone is recommended to apply for without expert level assistance. For a visa process this complex, it would be worth retaining the services of a specialist immigration firm. They will be able to assist you in collating documentation, finding and partnering with a suitable endorsing organisation, as well as helping you to navigate any issues that may arise during the processing of your application.

In summary, the start-up visa route is one of the more open visa routes in terms of restrictions but it does come with a heavy involvement from outside organisations and a large burden of proof. While it cant be renewed beyond its initial 5 year limit, it is possible to sidestep into a different relevant visa which can lead to indefinite leave to remain. So if you have a business idea which is innovative, viable and scalable, and you think the UK is the perfect launching pad for your idea, the start-up visa could be a great option for your business journey.

Imogen Loveday is a writer for the Immigration Advice Service.

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