This visa category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea supported by an endorsing body.
Start-up visa scheme coming to an end in April 2023
The Start-up route is now closed to new endorsements. The following information is only applicable to those who have received an endorsement from Edinburgh Innovations prior to 13 April 2023.
The University of Edinburgh is one of the endorsing bodies for the Start-Up route. While a UK degree is not required to be eligible for the Start-Up visa, we will only endorse applicants who can have a demonstrable close relationship with the University of Edinburgh (for example, students or alumni).
The Start-up visa is granted for a maximum of 2 years. During this time, Start-up visa holders are required to spend the majority of their time developing their business.
If you are selected for endorsement by Edinburgh Innovations, we will assist you with the visa application process. You are strongly encouraged to have your application and supporting documents checked by our team ahead of application admission.
You will be expected to prepare the following documents:
Once Edinburgh Innovations have confirmed your endorsement, the Student Immigration Service will provide with a letter which you must use in your application. You must apply within 3 months of the date of endorsement. If applying in the UK, you must also ensure you submit your application before your current visa expires.
A current valid passport
You will be required to submit your valid passport.
If you are applying from the UK and you have been issued with a vignette in your passport or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) for your most recent leave, you must submit this with your application.
If you are making your application from the UK and have been living here continuously with valid leave for 12 months or more on the date of application, you will meet the financial requirement and won’t need to show funds.
If you are applying from overseas, or if you haven’t lived in the UK for the necessary period as outlined above, you will need to submit evidence to show that you have held a minimum of £1270 for 28 days prior to the date of application.
If you have been financially sponsored by your home government or an international organisation in the 12 months before your application, you will need to submit a letter of consent from them. Your sponsor will need to give you their unconditional consent to make a visa application.
Tuberculosis (TB) certificate
A TB certificate will only be required for applications made outside of theUK from relevant countries, and if you have been outside the UK for more than 6 months.
All documents that are not in English should be officially translated and contain the following:
- Details of the translator/translation company’s credentials;
- Confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document;
- The translator/translation company’s contact details;
- The date of translation;
- The original signature of the translator or an authorised official of the translation company.
English language requirement
As part of the application, you will also need to show that you meet the B2 English language requirement. If you haven't previously shown you meet the English language requirement at level B2 in a previous successul visa application, please contact us for more information.
In order to be eligible to switch into the Start-up visa route from within the UK, you must not have, or have last been granted, permission:
- as a Visitor;
- as a Short-term Student;
- as a Parent of a Child Student;
- as a Seasonal Worker;
- as a domestic worker in a private household;
- outside the Immigration Rules.
Information on the visa application fee can be found on the Home Office website.
Home Office immigration and nationality fees
As part of the application, you will also need to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge. The cost for the Start-up visa is £624 per year of your visa.
Home Office website – Immigration Health Surcharge Information
If you are switching from a Tier 4 visa or Student visa, you will need to be mindful of working restrictions. When you can start operating your business will depend on when you applied for your Tier 4 or Student visa:
- If you applied for a Tier 4 visa before 19 October 2019, you can start operating your business when your Start-up visa is granted
- If you applied for a Tier 4 or Student visa on or after 19 October 2019, you can start operating your business as soon as you make a Start-up visa application
You are allowed to bring dependants under this visa route. Please contact us for further information on what they need to apply.
I already hold a Start-up visa endorsed by the University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Innovations, what are my options if I want to continue operating my business in the UK?
The University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh Innovations are now considered a “Legacy Endorsing Body” for the Innovator Founder route. This means we are allowed to endorse you for the Innovator Founder visa if you currently hold a valid Start-up visa that was also endorsed by us and meet the requirements relevant to this immigration route.
Edinburgh Innovations will be responsible for assessing whether you meet the business requirements for the Innovator Founder route prior to endorsement. You should not apply in this visa category prior to receiving an endorsement.
I don’t hold a Start-up visa, but I have a business idea and want to develop it in the UK. Do you accept new applications for endorsement?
As a Legacy Endorsing Body, we cannot accept new applicants. If you wish to apply for an Innovator Founder visa, you will need to seek an endorsement from one of the relevant authorised organisations.
Innovator Founder Endorsing Bodies
Please note we cannot provide advice with regard to Innovator Founder visa applications. If you need help applying, we recommend that you contact a regulated immigration adviser or solicitor with expertise in this area.
For further information on the Start-up visa please contact the Student Immigration Service