The United Kingdom’s Tier 1 visa immigration scheme is part of the five tier points based visa system for immigration to the UK. Tier 1 visas are for eligible entrepreneurs, investors, and for the very small number of people who can come under the “Exceptional Talent” visa category.

The new Start-up visa will replace Graduate Entrepreneur exclusively for UK graduates from 5 July 2019. The Start-up category is an expanded version of Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category.

Tier 1 Start Up

The Start-up category is for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs starting a business in the UK for the first time. 

  • Applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage, and must not have previously set up a business in the UK.
  • Successful applicants are granted leave for 2 years and can also bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK.
  • During the granted period of leave applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses but can also take on other work outside of their businesses, to support themselves.
  • At the end of 2 years, Startup visa holders can switch into the Innovator category (see below) to extend their stay and develop their businesses in the UK.

How to get endorsement for the Start-up Visa?

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.

This category offers leave for a maximum of 2 years and does not lead directly to settlement in the UK, however start up entrepreneurs may progress into the Innovator category (which can lead to settlement). This route is permitted to be counted as part of 10 year long residence. Please see the list of current endorsing bodies for Stat-up route here.

For more information on Tier 1 Start-up category or for detailed advice, call one of our expert Immigration lawyers on 0330 058 3929. You can check your eligibility by submitting a case evaluation request here.