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This category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time.

The Start-up visa is for those applicants that are not business persons.

Applicants can apply from out of country; and those already in the UK on Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 2, Tier 4 (General) student or Standard Visitor visas may be able to switch to a Start-up visa if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Can a Start-up migrant join an existing business?

We would advise that they can as the new rules have an apparent contradiction in Paragraph 245D(a)(iii): ‘Other migrants who wish to establish, join or take over one or more businesses in the UK may apply under the rules for the Start-up or Innovator categories, which are set out in Appendix W.’   We are awaiting guidance on the application of Appendix W from the Home Office.

No Investment Fund Required

There is no specific requirement to have investment funds if you wish to apply for a Start-up visa. However, you will still need to show maintenance funds of at least £945 to enter the Start-up category.

Eligibility Criteria for a Tier 1 Start-up Visa

Applicants must show that they have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which is supported by an endorsing body.

  • Innovation: you must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viability: you must have, or be currently developing the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business
  • Scalability: you must show evidence of structured planning and potential for job creation and growth into national markets

These criteria are similar to the Innovator visa route. However, those applying for an Innovator visa cannot be developing the knowledge, skills, experience and market awareness, but must already have these skills. With regard to scalability, an Innovator visa applicant must also be able to demonstrate the potential job creation and growth in international as well as national markets.

As well as gaining the approval of an endorsing body, Start-up applicants must satisfy the endorsing body that they will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on promoting and developing business ventures. This can be distinguished from Innovator applicants who have to spend their entire working time in the UK on such development.

Endorsing Bodies

Presently endorsing bodies (whoever they may be) have not published any guidance on their own criteria as they themselves are waiting for guidance from the Home Office.

Endorsing bodies must be either:

  • a UK higher education institution, that is in receipt of public funding (from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales or the Department of Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland). It must have an established process for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among its undergraduate and postgraduate population.


  • an organisation that has a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs (including resident workers) or is a new organisation set up for this by another body that has such a track record. Additionally, the request to become an endorsing body must be supported by a UK or devolved government department and be linked to the department’s policy objectives.

There is a Two Stage Process

Stage 1- Approval of endorsing body to establish innovation, viability and scalability

Stage 2- Application to Home Office to establish the credibility of the applicant

Does the Tier 1 Start-up Visa lead to settlement in the UK?

  • Not directly. The maximum grant of leave is for 2 years. For Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrants the total time in both Graduate Entrepreneur and Start-up categories can likewise only be two years.
  • Start-up visas may progress into the Innovator category, which can lead to settlement; or perhaps be used as part of a 10-year qualifying period for long residence.

How can Healys Help?

The experienced Immigration team at Healys Solicitors will prepare and submit your Tier 1 Start Up Visa application (and those of your dependants) from the UK.

We will ensure that all supporting documents are carefully drafted to ensure compliance with UK Immigration Rules and specifically assist your bank and/or third-party funders to produce financial documents that also comply with the rules.

We’ll advise you on the best type of application for your situation and give you the insight you need to make informed decisions along the way. We aim to not only make the process as smooth as possible but to enhance it and improve the chances of your permanent residence application being successful.

We’re a law firm that understands its customers and treats every individual case as something new. We focus on building relationships with our clients to ensure that we can provide them with the best legal representation and advice that we possibly can. With several decades of experience across different aspects of law, including immigration, we believe that we’re in a unique position to offer our clients the best advice available on managing and processing UK visa applications.

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Call our London office on 020 7822 4000 or our Brighton office on 01273 838734. You can also contact us online.
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London: 020 7822 4000 Brighton: 01273 838734 Or you can contact us online: Contact Us
TIER 1 START-UP VISA capabilities
TIER 1 START-UP VISA experiences
  • Healys regularly assists clients in applying for and maintaining sponsor licences, providing training to staff in relation to sponsor duties and responsibilities, undertaking compliance audits of company systems and processes and assisting clients in the submission of necessary reports and updates to the Home Office. We have successfully challenged Home Office decisions to suspend sponsor licences and civil penalty fines and been able to have licences reinstated. We currently work for a specialist care home in relation to its Tier 2 licence and have successfully assisted the sponsor in urgently being allocated additional certificates of sponsorship (following an initial Home Office refusal of a request submitted by the sponsor without legal representation) to enable it to recruit specialist nurses trained in nursing those with neurological injury/damage/disease; a current UK shortage occupation.
  • Our client is a businesswoman, who wanted to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) in order to invest in an existing business. We assisted our client with introducing her to our contacts in order to find her the right business in which to invest in, in accordance with her qualifications/experience and advised her on the whole procedure. Once having done so, we prepared our client’s application with supporting relevant documentation in order to meet the Immigration Rules. Our client was subsequently granted Entry Clearance into the UK as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). Shortly after our client had been in the UK, she instructed us that she wished for her spouse and children to join her in the UK. We assisted our client in the preparation of her dependants’ applications, which were later granted, and our client’s family entered the UK in order to join her.
  • Our client is a successful businessman, who wanted to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) in order to incorporate his own business in the UK, which would procure raw hides from Europe and UK, process them in the UK and resell them to an international clientele. We assisted our client with the preparation of his application as well as preparing the applications on his dependants’ behalf in order to join him in the UK. Our client was later granted entry clearance into the UK, in order to establish his business, along with his dependents.
  • We currently provide a bespoke service to a particular investor who, following a successful switch from Tier 2 (General) to Tier 1 (Investor) status, wants follow up ad hoc advice regarding the maintenance of her Tier 1 (Investor) status and quarterly review of her managed portfolio, to give her peace of mind that her status is being looked after throughout so as to put her in the best position to successfully extend her visa on its expiry.
  • We assisted our client to prepare an EEA PR application. As a result of Brexit we have advised a number of clients wishing to apply for permanent residence. Our client is an EU national who has been exercising EU rights of free movement as a qualified person for more 5 years. We completed the EEA PR form and collected documents that supported their application. The application was granted in February 2017.
  • Our clients are Zimbabwean nationals. In 2013 they were granted 3 years extension of their Discretionary Leave to remain in the UK because at that time Zimbabwe was refusing to take back their nationals who no longer had leave to remain the UK. We advised our clients in their applications in 2013. In 2016 our clients had accumulated 6 years of Discretionary Leave and were therefore eligible to apply for permanent residence in the UK. We obtained documents from our clients to support the private and family life that they had been enjoying in the UK for the past 3 years. We completed and submitted the application. Our clients were finally granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
  • Acted for a Pakistani client and his family facing deportation. We submitted a human rights claim under Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, requesting permission to extend our client’s stay in the UK on the basis that their child had spent 7 continuous years living in the UK and, referring to Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, that their interests and wellbeing may not best be served by being removed to Pakistan. Our client was granted three years discretionary leave to remain in the UK as a family.
  • Acted for a male Pakistani national seeking asylum in order to remain in the UK, fearing persecution if he returned to Pakistan due to his being homosexual. Engaging the 1951 Refugee Convention, ratified by the UK, our client was granted refugee status at appeal due to having a well-founded fear of persecution by the country of his nationality.
  • Acted for an Egyptian client wishing to join his wife in the UK. Despite satisfying the financial and accommodation requirements imposed by Part 8 of the government’s immigration rules, our client’s application was declined due to the fact that the couple did not share a common language. We successfully appealed this decision in court, having persuaded the judge that a common language was not the sole factor in deciding whether a marriage was genuine or not.
  • Acted for a female Ukraine national who sought to remain in the UK with her husband and daughter. We advised her to issue a human rights claim under Article 8 of the European Convention, arguing that owing to her husband’s status as a political refugee, the only place where they could enjoy the right to family life without interference by a public authority was in the UK. Our client’s application for a variation of her leave to remain was successful at appeal, and she was granted three years discretionary leave to remain in the UK.
  • Acted for a Sri Lankan refugee, who had previously been placed on a witness protection programme, when his application to extend his and his family’s leave to remain in the UK was denied by the Home Office, due to the fact that Sri Lanka had since developed their own witness protection programme. At appeal, and with expert evidence, it was decided that the witness protection programme in Sri Lanka would fail to offer our client adequate protection, and his application was allowed.
  • Acted for a large corporation in the Middle East in facilitating the swift transfer of their Vice president from their head office to their London office. This involved obtaining the relevant sponsor license, completing a Tier 2 application, and liaising with both the UK Border Agency and the applicant’s home country Visa service in order to successfully expedite the process.
  • Acted for a client in making an application (FLR FP) for her minor daughter, a Philippine national, to reside permanently with her in the UK. Having entered the UK as a visitor, the Home Office’s position was initially that the application should be made from the Philippines. We argued that this would be a breach of our client’s human rights, and the Home office agreed to allow our client to make an in-country application and to grant her indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
  • Acted for a Zimbabwe national in an application to extend her discretionary leave for a further three years. This was initially refused by the Home Office on the grounds that the application was not valid without evidence of identity in the form of a passport or ID card. Her passport having expired and not being able to return to Zimbabwe due to her life being in danger there, our client had good reasons not to provide her identity document with her application. We sent a letter before action to the Home Office in line with the pre-action protocol or judicial review.
  • Acted for a Canadian client suffering from a mental illness bordering on suicidal ideation. We made an application for our client to be granted leave to remain on discretionary grounds owing to the fact that her mental condition greatly improved after visiting her family in the UK, and she feared it would deteriorate if she were to return to Canada. Though initially refused by the Home Office, the application was successful at appeal.
  • Acted for a French national exercising treaty rights in the UK as a qualified person. After the Brexit referendum, and prior to the UK leaving the EU in March 2019, our client wished to secure her immigration status in the UK. Despite having automatically acquired permanent residence having lived in the UK legally for 5 years or more, we prepared an EEA PR application which was granted in December 2017.
  • Acted for a Pakistani national who, having been human trafficked into the UK in 1998, had resided in the UK for 20 years. Our client’s application for indefinite leave to remain was declined and he was granted the right to an in-country appeal. The appeal was put on hold while the police and the Home Office investigated the human trafficking element. After 18 months, and despite the police and Home Office investigations not having been concluded, the appeal proceeded and our client was granted discretionary leave to remain. We are now preparing to challenge the grant of discretionary leave, as opposed to indefinite leave to remain, by way of judicial review.
  • Home Office Makes Further Additions to the Shortage Occupation List

    9th October 2019

    On 6 Oct 2019, UK Visas and Immigration added the following occupations to the shortage occupation list for Tier 2 General Migrant applications:

    • All IT business analysts, architects and systems designer roles (SOC Code 2135)
    • All programme and software development roles (SOC Code 2136)
    • All web design and development professional roles (SOC Code 2137)
    • All IT and communication professionals not elsewhere classified (SOC Code 2139)

    The benefits of a job being on the shortage occupation list are:

    1. No requirement for an employer to conduct a resident labour market test
    2. A shortage worker is not required to meet the minimum earnings threshold when applying for indefinite leave to remain
    3. Reduced UK Visas and Immigration application fees for those jobs on the shortage occupation list
    4. Shortage occupation jobs are given priority status and should not be affected by the monthly cap on the allocation of certificates of sponsorship

    Skilled chefs (SOC 5434) are also included on the shortage occupation list (even if it’s a take away business).

    Other occupations added are civil engineering roles (SOC Code 2121) and architects (SOC Code 2431).

    If you would like further information on this or any other immigration matter, please contact Ivon Sampson on 020 7822 4000 or email





  • Home Office Expands Shortage Occupation List

    12th September 2019

    In the latest statement of changes announced by the Home Office on 11 Sept 2019, they have added the following occupations to the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List (SOL)

    • Vets
    • Architects
    • Web Designers

    This decision implements the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommendations which were published earlier in the year. Continue reading »

  • Legal 500 2018 - Human Resources: Immigration – ranked: Tier 3 (London) - "The ‘professional and knowledgeable’ team at Healys LLP 'stands out for its innovative approach to service delivery'. It is regularly instructed by high-net-worth individuals (including individuals across the sports, music, theatre, films and entertainment sectors) and also advises UK universities on student visas, extensions and reviews. Team head Ivon Sampson is ‘knowledgeable and clear in his advice’. Middle East department head Omar Shams delivers advice with ‘clarity, efficiency and has total focus on the most relevant legal points’. Solicitor Nagesh Jain is also recommended."
  • Legal 500 2017 - Human Resources: Immigration – ranked: Tier 3 (London) - “Healys LLP’s ‘excellent’ offering acts for high-net-worth individuals, and regularly advises individuals from the sports, music, theatre, film and entertainment industries. It also advises UK Universities on student visas, extensions and reviews, and advises companies on sponsorship licences. Department head Ivon Sampson ‘is willing to fight for clients’. Omar Shams, who heads the Middle East department, advises businesses and high-net-worth individuals on entry into the UK.”
  • Legal 500 2016 - Human Resources: Immigration – ranked: other recommended firm