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Start a Business in the UK: Start-Up Visas for South Africans

South Africans who would like to start a business in the UK could be eligible for the UK Start-Up Visa.

To find out more about beginning your business journey in the UK, speak to our expert attorneys today on 0333 305 3612.

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    What is the Start-Up Visa?

    Note: The Start-Up visa route will no longer accept new applications after 13 July 2023. Applications made before then must have an endorsement from an authorised body issued before 13 April 2023. If you wish to immigrate to the UK to start a business, you can instead apply for the Innovator visa (now known as the Innovator Founder visa)

    The Start-Up Visa is for people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who wish to start a business in the UK. This visa is relatively new and replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. It’s intended for new entrepreneurs who would like to set up a business in the UK for the first time.

    With the Start-Up Visa you can stay in the UK for a maximum of two years, after which you may be eligible to switch to the innovator visa. The Start-Up Visa will also allow you to bring family from South Africa with you to the UK.

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    Start-Up Visa Requirements

    The most important requirement for the Start-Up visa is that you must be endorsed by an authorised body who will assess your business idea. An authorised endorsing body is usually a higher education facility or a UK company that has previously supported entrepreneurs. A full list of authorised bodies can be found on the Gov UK website.

    As well as this endorsement by an approved body, there are a number of other requirements that you will have to meet to be able to qualify for the Start-Up Visa, these include:

    • Being at least 18 years of age or older
    • Demonstrating that you have a knowledge of the English language – South Africans will need to pass an approved English language test at level B1 or above
    • Proving that you will be able to support yourself financially whilst in the UK – you will have to have the equivalent of at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days prior to your application.

    You could be exempt from the English language requirement if you have a qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification.

    Start-Up Visa applicants do not need to have funds to invest in their business.

    How to Apply

    The earliest you can apply for the Start-Up Visa is 3 months before you intend to travel to the UK. Before you apply you should make sure you have received an endorsement letter from the authorized body endorsing you.

    You will then need to fill in the online application form that is available on the Gov UK website as well as submitting your supporting documents. Once you have completed the form, you will have to go to a visa application centre to have your biometric information taken; this is your photo and fingerprints.

    There are several visa application centres that you can go to in South Africa to have this done. If you can’t make it to any in South Africa, then you will need to travel to another country to have this done.

    Once you have done these things, all that is left to do is wait for a decision from the Home Office. You should receive your decision within three weeks of submitting your application.

    Get in touch with our expert immigration attorneys to learn more about the Tier 1 Start-Up Visa. Contact us

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      What Documents Will I Need?

      As well as a letter of endorsement from the endorsing body supporting your application, there are various other documents that you must submit alongside your application for a Start-Up Visa.

      These documents include:

      • A current passport or other valid travel identification
      • Bank statements to prove you meet the financial requirements
      • Your English language test results or documents to prove you are exempt from this requirement

      South African Citizens will also be required to provide a copy of their Tuberculosis test results.

      If any of your documents are not written in English or Welsh, then you will need to get them professionally translated before you submit your application.

      Switching to a Start-up Visa

      If you’re already in the UK on a different visa, you may still be eligible to apply for a Start-Up Visa by switching from the visa you are currently here on.

      The visas you can switch from include:

      You will still need to meet all of the relevant requirements for a Start-Up visa, and if you’re switching from a Tier 1 Graduate Visa you must prove that your business is a new idea.

      If you’re planning to switch to a Start-Up visa, you should apply before your current visa expires.

      How Much Does it Cost to Apply?

      The cost for a UK Start-Up visa varies depending on where you are applying from.

      If you are applying from inside of the UK to switch to this visa the cost as of February 2023 is £508.

      If you are applying from South Africa, then the application fee will be £378.

      You will also have to pay the same fees for any dependents you wish to bring with you to the UK.

      As well as the application fees, you should consider other costs that you may incur, such as the cost of an English language test. You will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge; this costs £624 per year.

      How can IAS help?

      Our immigration lawyers at IAS are committed to offering professional and reliable immigration assistance and advice for any immigration issue, they are dedicated to making your immigration journey easier.

      Our attorneys can support you on your journey to start your business in the UK by giving your Start-Up Visa application the best chance of being successful. They know just what it takes to produce a high-quality application and can help you to do this.

      If you hire one of our lawyers to assist you with your Start-Up Visa application, they can help you to fill in the application form, find any documents you may also need to submit, and will work hard to ensure you can meet all of the requirements. They will also communicate with the Home Office on your behalf to monitor your applications progress.

      To get started on your application today, get in touch with our lawyers today on 0333 305 3612. 

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                No, unfortunately, you are not able to extend a Start-Up Visa and must return to South Africa once your visa expires. However, if you would like to remain in the UK, you could do this by switching to another visa category, such as the Tier 1 Innovator Visa. This visa was created in 2019 to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. It will allow you to stay in the UK for 3 years, can be extended after this and it is also route to Indefinite Leave to Remain.

                If you want to switch to an Innovator Visa, speak to our lawyers today on 0333 305 3612. 

                Yes, our lawyers help clients all over the world. If you are applying from within South Africa, you can still get the help of one of our attorneys as they offer all of their services remotely.

                Our lawyers can arrange an appointment with you over the phone or via Skype call. To book your appointment, simply use the online form or contact our team today on 0333 305 3612. 

                Yes, the Start-Up Visa will allow you to bring family members from South Africa with you to the UK, this includes Spouses and any dependent children you may have.

                As well as the £945 you will need to have in your bank account to prove that you can support yourself, you will also need an extra £630 for each dependent you plan to bring with you.

                Your family members will need to apply online, and they must also go to a visa application centre to have their biometric information taken. They will also be required to pay the same application fee as yourself.

                If your child is over the age of 18, then they cannot apply from South Africa. They can only apply if they are already living in the UK as your dependent.