As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, one of its biggest challenges is how to continue to attract talented entrepreneurs to the country. In early 2019, the British government showed the UK was “open for business” by announcing the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa was to be replaced by “Start – up” and “Innovator” routes. This news has been especially welcomed by the tech sector, which is awash with investor confidence but short on the talent it needs.
A Y & J Solicitors are highly experienced business immigration lawyers who have an in-depth understanding as to how UK Visa and Immigration makes decisions. For business people, this provides a vital resource, as sells your business to lenders, investors, and joint venture partners, may not necessarily sway immigration officials to grant you entry into the UK.
By instructing our team of business immigration lawyers to assist you with your application, you can be confident its strengths will be pulled to the fore, and any weaknesses pointed out so you can rectify them before submission.
What is a Startup Visa?
The Immigration Rules define the UK Start – up visa as follows:
‘This category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants will have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body. This category offers leave for 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but applicants may progress into the Innovator category.’
The Applicant does not need to be the only founder of the proposed business and can also be part of a team. Successful applicants must be proposing a new business idea that meets the below requirements.
What are the eligibility requirements for a Startup Visa?
All applications will be assessed on the following three merits:
- Innovation – you must have an original business idea and a plan that show it meets an existing market need or provides a competitive advantage in a particular sector.
- Viability – you need to prove you have or are developing the required experience, skills, knowledge, and commercial acumen to run the business.
- Scalability – there must be evidence of a clear growth strategy and job creation potential.
There is no specific investment requirements for funds to be invested in the business. However, it will be unusual for a business that will be viable and scalable not to need investment.
To successfully apply for a Startup Visa, you need:
- The Endorsement in writing by an endorsing body.
- The Endorsement letter must state you meet the three merits of innovation, viability, and scalability listed above.
- Confirmation that the endorsing body is “reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures”.
- To prove you can speak English to a B2 level
- A credible business plan
- At least £945 in your bank accounts for a consecutive period of at least 90 days prior to applying
- The Application must not fall for refusal under the General Grounds of Refusal
How do I apply for a Startup Visa?
Your first step in applying for a Startup Visa is to seek endorsement. The list of approved endorsing bodies is a mix of businesses and Higher Education Institutions (HEI). Once you have selected your preferred endorsing body, you need to follow their application process.
It is imperative that you get this part of the application correct as no endorsement equals no visa. Our team will assess your business idea prior to approaching the endorsing body and help you create a robust and persuasive pitch. We will help you shine the spotlight on the strengths of your business plan and provide advice on dealing with any weaknesses.
Apply for a Startup visa while you are in the UK
In general, such applications for Start – up will need to be made from outside the UK. However, if an Applicant has already leave to remain in any of the below Immigration categories, an application for Start – up can be made in the UK:
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
- Tier 2
- Tier 4 (General), subject to the Applicant meets the specific criteria
- A visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur. The Immigration Rules state that: ‘A visitor who can show support from one or more endorsing bodies for the Start-up or Innovator categories in Appendix W, as listed on the gov.uk website, may come to the UK for discussions to secure funding from any legitimate source, which they intend to use to set up a business in the UK.’
What are the advantages of a Startup Visa?
The UK Startup route provides an opportunity for graduates or entrepreneurs starting on their journey to launch their business in one of the world’s biggest economies. It also provides you with the chance to work closely with your endorsing body, gaining valuable guidance and support.
Unlike the Innovator Visa, the Startup route does not require you to have existing investment funds available.
The visa is extremely flexible as it allows you to take on work outside of your business to support yourself. You can remain in the UK for two years, and at the end of your visa, you are expected to switch into the Innovator category to extend your stay (if you meet the requirements).
Can I bring my dependents to the UK on a Startup Visa?
Successful applicants can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.
How can A Y & J Solicitors help with your Startup visa application?
Our team understand both immigration law and business. We have a strong track record of successfully assisting those applying for Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visas. Our immigration lawyers are sharp, practical, and will provide you with expert feedback and legal advice regarding your application. The criteria for a Startup Visa is tough and the competition fierce. By partnering with us, you dramatically increase your chances of success.
There are several commercial bodies approved to offer an endorsement for a Startup Visa. These include (but are not limited to Seed Camp, Ignite, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Set Squared in Bristol, Exeter, and Surrey).
By working with A Y & J Solicitors, your chances of having a Startup Visa refused are greatly reduced. If your application is refused, we will look into all available avenues of recourse to try and have the refusal reversed.
A condition of the visa is you will have no access to public funds.
Should this happen, your visa may be curtailed. This is also the case if you cease to be eligible for endorsement. If you are experiencing problems with your endorser, contact our team immediately.
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A Y & J Solicitors’ Review
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