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The Start-Up Migrant Visa and the Innovator Visa routes


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New immigration visa categories: Start-Up Migrant & Innovator Visa


The UK government’s changes to some aspects of the Immigration Rules announced on 7 March 2019 came into force on 29 March 2019.

The end of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant category spawned two new categories: The Start-Up Migrant Visa and the Innovator Visa categories. Both categories are specifically aimed at business individuals. Whereas the Start-Up Migrant Visa category for those who want to start business in the UK for the first time, the Innovator Visa category is for experienced business individuals seeking to establish an innovative business in the UK.

This article focuses on the new Start-up category and you can read more about the Innovator category via this link: 

Start-Up Migrant Visa

This route is for those who wish to start business in the UK for the first time. There is no need for the applicant to hold a degree or qualification or have secured any initial funding. Leave under this route is granted for a period of 2 years, and it is not possible to extend your stay in this category after the two-year period has concluded. However, individuals will be able to switch in to the Innovator category.

Two major advantages with this route are that:

  1. Individuals are allowed to study while they run their business, however, they may be required to provide an ATAS certificate if they are applying for subjects restricted in the Immigration Rules; and
  2. Individuals can take up employment in other employment during their grant of leave.

Moreover, in order for an individual to be successful under this route, the individual must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea, which must have been assessed and endorsed by a UK approved endorsing body.

What must the individual provide?

To apply under this category, the individual must satisfy 3 distinctive requirements with regards to their business ideas:

  1. Innovative: The individual has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
  2. Viable: The individual has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
  3. Scalable: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

How is this Start-Up visa assessed?

Under this route, an individual’s business idea needs to be endorsed by a UK approved Endorsing Body such as: NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator, TechXseed, Capital Enterprise, as well as higher education providers such as Set Squared.

The main purpose of the endorsing body is to assess the credibility of the business idea, especially with regards to its innovation, viability and scalability in generating growth both nationally and internationally.

The relevant endorsing body if satisfied with the individual’s business idea, will issue that person with an endorsement letter. This is a document that the applicant will include in the application as evidence that their business idea complies with the criteria under this route.

It is imperative that, individuals submit their applications within three months of being issued with endorsement letter or else, the individual will be required to apply for a fresh endorsement letter.

What else does the individual need to prove?

Applicants must be 18 years plus to apply under this route. They must also meet the English language ability at CEFR B2 level.

Additionally, applicants also need to satisfy the credibility assessment, which is carried out by the endorsing body as part of their assessment. Furthermore, applicants must meet the maintenance requirement. Also, applicants must not be in breach of any immigration laws and/or fall for refusal under the general grounds.

Are there any restrictions once the application is approved?

Yes, applicants will be subject to the following standard conditions when the application is approved:

  1. Applicant’s cannot apply to extend their visas;
  2. Applicant must have no access to public funds;
  3. No employment as a doctor or dentist training;
  4. May have to register with the police if from a relevant country that is required to do so; and
  5. No employment as a professional sportsperson.

All the above are standard conditions; however, the following are further restrictions under this route:

  1. Applicants must stay in touch with their endorsing body between 6-12 months of approval;
  2. Applicant’s endorsing body must be satisfied that the applicant is implementing their business idea or else the endorsing body can withdraw their endorsement.


If you would like to discuss or request more information about the new Start-Up Visa, please do not hesitate to contact our team of expert UK Immigration solicitors at:  or on 0207 487 8370.


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