Establishing a business in the UK under the Tier 1 Start-up visa

Migrants who wish to establish their first small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) in the UK can apply for a Tier 1 Start-up visa under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules. Experienced migrants with prior business dealings in the UK must apply for a Tier 1 Innovator visa. Both visa categories require migrants to have a credible business idea, which is innovative, viable and scalable. The most important aspect of this application is securing an endorsement from a Home Office approved Endorsement Body. There is no formal investment criteria for the Tier 1 Start-up visa. Our specialist business immigration team has a proven track record in submitting business visa applications.

What is a Tier 1 Start-up visa?

The Tier 1 Start-up visa is for business persons seeking to establish a business presence in the UK. This route is for only new entrants and experienced business persons should apply under the Tier 1 Innovator route. The business idea must be innovative, viable and scalable and must have an endorsement confirming the same.

What are the requirements for a Tier 1 Start-up visa?

Migrant entrepreneurs must apply for a Tier 1 Start-up visa under Appendix W part W3 and part W5. The basic requirements are as listed below:

  • Must have an innovative viable business idea with the potential for growth;
  • Must be at least 18 years of age on the date of the decision;
  • Must not fall under the General Grounds for Refusal;
  • Must pass the credibility assessment and have an endorsement letter from a Home Office approved endorsement body; and
  • Must meet the maintenance (£945 if E/C) and English language requirements (CEFR Level B2);

Unlike the Tier 1 Innovator visa application, there is no minimum investment criteria of £50,000. However, it is important to show that there will be some investment as most businesses require capital investment in the early stages.

What is the Tier 1 Start-up credibility assessment/endorsement requirement?

In the past, the onus was on the Home Office to carry out a credibility assessment by reviewing the business plan and supporting documents. This was highly controversial as there were questions asked whether the caseworkers were qualified to review business ideas and make credibility assessments. The majority of refused business entrepreneur applications were successfully appealed on the grounds that the credibility assessment was flawed and irrational. The Home Office will no longer carry out a genuine entrepreneur test in reviewing an Applicants business idea. The Home Office has now introduced a credibility assessment/endorsement requirement for the Tier 1 Start-up visa. Applicants must secure an endorsement from a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. Applicants are required to submit their business idea alongside a detailed business plan to a relevant endorsement body. The endorsement body will review whether the business is innovative, viable and scalable. The endorsement body must provide a letter to the Applicant confirming the details listed under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules.

Can I switch into a Tier 1 Start-up visa?

Yes, in some circumstances migrants in the UK with valid leave can apply to switch into the Tier 1 Start-up visa from within the UK. Migrants may only apply to switch if their previous leave is under any of the following visa categories:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant (who has not yet been granted 2 years’ leave in the category); or
  • Tier 2 migrant; or
  • Tier 4 (General) student; or
  • A visitor who has been undertaking permitted 
activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V.

Can a Solicitor help with the Tier 1 Start-up endorsement?

Yes, our specialist business immigration solicitors can help Applicants obtain an endorsement from a Home Office approved Endorsement Body. Our Immigration Team works with a number of affiliated partners who are able to provide Tier 1 Start-up endorsements. We can also advise on what action to take if your endorsement has been withdrawn and you would like to stay in the UK.

Can I study on the Tier 1 Start-up visa?

Yes, migrants on the Tier 1 Start-up visa can study as long as they have obtained an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate for the course or research they plan to undertake. Migrants must be aged 18 or over and their course must be listed in appendix 6 of the Immigration Rules. It is important to remember that the primary purpose of this visa is to allow migrants to establish their business in the UK. Therefore, unless further education is directly linked with the proposed business idea the Home Office may question the need to study.

How long can I stay in the UK on a Tier 1 Start-up visa?

Migrants can stay in the UK for a period of 2 years and this cannot be extended. However, migrants can apply to switch into the Tier 1 Innovator visa.

Can my family members apply to join me on the Tier 1 Start-up visa?

Yes, Appendix W stipulates family members can accompany the Main Applicant. Family members are normally spouse or civil partner, children and siblings (in some circumstances). Each family member must meet the requirement of their applications and provide the mandatory documents.

How our immigration solicitors can help with a Tier 1 Start-up visa application?

Our immigration solicitors in London specialise in Tier 1 Start-up visa applications and prepare applications to the highest standard. We have an impeccable track history of submitting successful business visa applications for a range of different small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). The key to submitting a successful Tier 1 Start-up application is being aware of the relevant Immigration Rules and obtaining an endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsement body. Our immigration solicitors in London guide Applicants through the requirements and prepare detailed legal submissions in support of the application. In addition to the legal representations, our team of solicitors also provides multiple substantial reviews of the application bundle to ensure that the correct documentary evidence is submitted. We also prepare and assist with the submission of the application.

Using our Immigration Solicitors in London to submit a successful Tier 1 Start-up Visa application

Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration matter. You can instruct one of our immigration and visa legal representatives to successfully assist you with an application to apply for a Tier 1 Start-up visa. Our solicitors and Barristers will help you comply with the Home Office’s requirements and meet the Immigration Rules.

Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications, which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your UK Start-up visa application succeeds, our solicitors and barristers will ensure all specified documents must be provided.

The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.

Successful Tier 1 Start-up Visa applications with our Immigration Solicitors in London

Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your prospects of submitting a UK Start-up visa application before your application even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of a Tier 1 Start-up visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules.

We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients.  We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.

Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation to discuss a Tier 1 Start-up visa application.

Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.

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