Starting a business is hard enough, but starting a business in a foreign country can be even harder. Fortunately, if you’re thinking of bringing your business to the United Kingdom, there’s a suitable visa route for you. The Home Office offers the UK Startup Visa for entrepreneurs with viable, innovative, and scalable business ideas.
The UK Startup Visa
The Startup Visa is an entrepreneurial visa that provides successful applicants a two-year stay in the UK. The two years give you ample time to make significant progress in establishing the business you’ve presented in your application. Before your Startup Visa expires, you can easily transition to the Innovator Visa or a different one if you want to continue staying in the country and grow your business further.
The Startup Visa is also designed to make the process manageable for beginner entrepreneurs. It allows visa holders to have a job other than managing their business. If you’re still starting out, this will help you gain enough finances to support your venture.
Aside from that, the Startup Visa also lets you bring your partner and children along with you to the UK. There will be additional requirements and costs, but they’ll be able to stay with you as you develop your business in the country. Although, you still won’t be able to apply for some state benefits or pensions while living on this visa.
What you’ll need
Getting an endorsing body is one of the main requirements before applying for an entrepreneurial visa such as the Startup Visa. They’re businesses licensed by the Home Office to check if you and your business meet all of their requirements. These will be further discussed below.
But before getting into those, it’s important to note that you have to get the right endorsing body. They aren’t just tasked to clear you for the visa application, as they’ll also monitor your business once you begin establishing it. Some endorsing bodies even help you refine your business plan and support you with various challenges you’ll encounter along the way.
Boardroom Advisors is one endorsing body that offers highly valuable services for growing businesses. They can conduct strategic reviews and provide experienced experts who could help you with strategic growth planning. They also have a history of successfully supporting UK businesses in scaling up.
The Home Office puts great importance on the businesses they’ll allow to be established in the country. They’re specifically looking for businesses that can contribute value to their citizens and economy. That said, they need to see a business plan that meets the three following criteria:
The business idea has to be innovative. They don’t want a copy of an existing business in the market. Your products and services should solve an unmet need or offer a new solution for existing problems.
The business has to be a viable venture. You have to show that you’ll be able to thrive in the UK market. There has to be a strong business plan ready to ensure that you’re not pushing for a failing business.
Eventually, the business has to be scalable. The Home Office prioritises the welfare of UK residents and hopes they gain employment from your business venture too. From the beginning, you have to show that your business can scale to provide more employment opportunities in the future.
These are the three factors endorsing bodies will look at when assessing your business. If you pass all the standards, you’re closer to getting an official Letter of Endorsement for your visa application. You just need to meet all other personal and financial eligibility requirements.
Personal and financial requirements
The Home Office also sets some personal and financial eligibility requirements for applicants. These include being 18 years of age at the time of application, having a minimum level of English proficiency, and passing some medical tests. There are also additional requirements if you’ll be bringing your partner and children, so make sure to check those out.
For financials, the Startup Visa doesn’t require a certain amount of funding for your business. However, you’ll need to show that you have enough money in your bank to support your living expenses. The amount will vary if you’ll be applying for the Startup Visa alone or with your family members.
If you’ll be coming alone, you need to have at least £1270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before submitting your application. If you’ll be bringing your partner, you need to have £285 more. For children, £315 will be required for the first child and an additional £200 for every child after the first.
Other financial costs should also be considered such as the application fees and mandatory healthcare surcharges, which will be paid upfront during the application.
How to find the right endorsing body
An important takeaway from this short Startup Visa guide is that you need to get the right endorsing body for you. Not all are the same, after all. Again, some endorsing bodies like Boardroom Advisors can offer additional services to support you from preparing your application to developing the business.
This is especially recommended if you think you need extra help in making your business innovative, viable, and scalable for the UK market. As you grow, it’s also good if you can readily consult your endorsing body for advice. Rather than engaging with new consultants, it’s smarter to work with your endorsing body since they have a background in your business from the very beginning.