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In this article, T1 Digital Consultants provides an overview of what the UK Start-up visa is, who could benefit from it, why an endorsement is invaluable, as well as a couple of business plan considerations and other essential advice…

What Is a UK Start-up Visa?

The United Kingdom is taking confident steps towards building trade alliances with other countries, and part of their overarching strategy includes giving innovative entrepreneurs a way to immigrate and build their business in the UK. 

Entrepreneurs with an innovative idea for a business start-up are welcome to apply from all over the world as long as they have a first-time business that can be proven as innovative, viable and scalable.

That means that normal, everyday people with a sound idea have a shot at moving to the UK (which happens to be the new tech capital of the world). The UK’s tech sector is blowing up like dynamite, to the tune of a record-breaking £15 billion in venture capital being poured into the UK’s current tech companies.

Britain has been cited as the new Silicon Valley with
no signs of slowing down, in fact it is speeding up!

This might all seem a little too good to be true, right? I mean, anybody, from anywhere in the world can have a good business idea and get a 2 year visa? Don’t you usually have to have a job to get approved for residency?

Why does endorsement matter?

This is where endorsement comes in. Endorsing bodies are a collective group of successful business-owners and executives of organisations of various sizes and portfolios. The endorsing bodies are tasked with applying their expertise and experience in building businesses and brands to assess the viability of all applicants’ business plans and start-up ideas.

As is mentioned in the language of the UK Start-up visa’s official description, all business plans must be: innovative, viable, and scalable.


All applicants need a genuine and original business plan that is in line with new or existing market needs and/or has a competitive advantage.


The successful applicant should be actively developing (or already has) the required skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business they are pitching.


To satisfy scalability assessments, you’ll need evidence of structured planning and job creation prospects, as well as your company’s potential to grow into national and global markets.

Good Business Plans and Letters of Evidence

The endorsing bodies go over the applicants’ packet and make a determination on these three factors — and all three are required. Having a professional business plan drawn up is only part of the process, albeit an important one.

The business plan can satisfy both the innovation and scalability criteria of endorsement, if properly drafted and presented. The viability component, however, requires a little something else; usually Letters of Evidence. These are letters that are often drafted by professional endorsement consultants that highlight your unique knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Convincing the endorsing bodies of this aptitude is paramount when being assessed for viability, as they are really trying to determine whether you can pull off the start-up idea you’ve presented. It can be the best idea in the world, but if they don’t believe in you, all bets are off.

The Future of Start-ups in the UK

The future for entrepreneurship in the UK looks very optimistic, particularly in the aforementioned tech sector. And though it seems it’s always about the tech these days, there are other sectors of industry that are doing quite well, and also qualify for the Start-up visa’s endorsing bodies’ interest.

Science, engineering, and research have been viable for decades, and tend to follow the tech – at least to some degree. It might even be more fair to say they follow each other. At any rate, professionals with some experience in their industry and an innovative idea for a business start-up are exactly the kind of folks the UK is trying to find.

Less technical areas that have proven successful for endorsement include fashion, architecture, and media, where a fresh generation of entrepreneurs are trying to bring new perspectives and creative enthusiasm to the innovative process. 

Still, it seems like any successful and innovative start-up today has succumbed to tech, in some way, shape, or form. It’s become all about clever app design and confident branding, and nowhere is this all better illustrated in fintech. Fintech, or financial technology, is a sector of modern finance that is collectively represented in the UK by Innovative Finance

Innovative Finance represents over 250 institutions, companies, and agencies that monitor and influence the UK fintech industry, and they have encouraged the growth of the UK’s economy to an unparalleled degree. 

Take moment to consider the £1BN in future UK-India Trade pledged by the British Prime Minister, which is expected to spark the creation of at least 6,500 new jobs. This is all happening now. The economic growth has already been triggered and has already begun, which is why the world’s big players are investing in the UK’s start-ups like never before.

Click below to download our Start-up Visa Endorsement Brochure

Switching to an Innovator visa

The Start-up visa is good for 2 years, which is (hopefully) enough time for you to get relocated and get your business launched. There are no extensions for the Start-up visa, not specifically, anyway. However, if you have supporting evidence that you business can support you, you can request to switch to the Innovator visa.

The Innovator visa is another program aimed at entrepreneurs, but instead of first-timers, it seeks those who have already built at least one viable business already. This is established in part by the confirmation of initial funding of at least £50,000, along with an assessment by the endorsing bodies of the applicant’s previous ventures.

Switching to an Innovator visa gives you another 3 years or residency, and there is no limit to how many times you can renew the Innovator visa. This component of the program gives Start-up visa recipients the flexibility to remain with their business beyond the 2 year mark.

What You Can and Cannot Do

The Start-up visa is aimed at bringing the kind of people into the UK that end up changing the world. They want innovators, creators, and leaders, just like any country does – but right now they’ve got the right combination of capital and policy to make it happen.

But saying you want “world-changers” doesn’t mean you want rule-breakers.

As such, the UK immigration office has come up with a few things that you cannot do while residing in the UK on a Start-up visa.

Start-up visa Residents CANNOT
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson
  • receive public funds

The first is pretty self-explanatory; it’s worth pointing out that the second refers not only to professional sports players, but also coaches, asst. coaches, and referees as well. And as far as “receiving public funds”, they basically mean you can’t be on public welfare support from the UK if you are residing on a Start-up visa. If your business can’t support you, you’ve got a better chance at keeping your visa by finding funding instead of getting social services support.

Start-up visa Residents CANNOT
  • work in another job (to include working for your start-up business)
  • switch to a Start-up visa from some other categories of visas
  • bring your dependent family members to the UK with you

So if your plan was to work a better-paying job until your business has its legs under it, you are good to go! And if you are already in the UK on another visa, consider checking with a knowledgeable endorsement consultant team about your options for switching it over. And the matter of family is always an important one, especially when we’re considering uprooting our lives and moving across the world.

Getting the Help You Need

Our team at T1 Digital Consulting has been helping people get their visa endorsement applications approved since 2016. We’ve successfully navigated hundreds of end-to-end applications for the UK’s popular Global Talent Visa program, and we have recently launched a “No Win – No Fee” guarantee especially for Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa applicants because we feel so confident in our ability to achieve great results.

That program continues to be an incredibly popular one with talented professionals in multiple disciplines. And while the Global Talent Visa remains our signature service, our team does happen to be made up of industry and market experts with years of experience reading the writing on the wall.

The writing on the wall is that start-ups are the future of business. The internet has triggered an abundance of creation, business, and wealth the likes of which the world has never seen. The UK has surpassed Silicon Valley as the global hub of tech, and venture capitalists are pouring money into UK start-ups billions at a time.

We know, just like those investors know, that the next Bill Gates, the next Jeff Bezos, the next Elon Musk, is out there. It could be you. Don’t count yourself out, and don’t miss out on your big opportunity because of paperwork.

Reach out to us at T1 Digital Consulting, instead, and we will answer any and all questions you might have about the Start-up visa. Our team can let you know quickly whether a Start-up visa is right for your situation. Don’t put it off – a phone call or email costs nothing, after all! Thank you for reading, and be sure to subscribe so you get our newsletter full of visa endorsement info, tips, and tricks!

Want to know more?

We love helping talented individuals from all over the world discover their career and personal progression opportunities in the UK.

Speak with our UK visa endorsement specialists to find out more about which UK visa could suit you…