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UK Start-Up Visa for Nigerians

The UK Start-up visa was available to Nigerians who wished to set up an innovative business that has been endorsed as viable in the United Kingdom. Please note that new applications are no longer taken for this visa route. If you want to start a business in the UK, the Innovator Founder visa might be a fit.

Starting a business abroad is a complicated process, and we know that you want to be sure that your business abides by all UK laws. We are here to help. Contact IAS today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882.

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    Want to Start a Business in the UK?

    Immigration Advice Services has an experienced team of expert immigration and business lawyers that can support you throughout the process of applying for your visa and establishing your business in the UK.

    Let us support you with this life-changing step.

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    What is the UK Start-Up Visa?

    The UK Start-up visa is available to Nigerians who are setting up an innovative business that has been endorsed as viable in the United Kingdom. Please note that new applications are no longer taken for this visa route.

    This route is only available to applicants who already held a valid start-up endorsement from the Home Office as of 13 April 2023. The Home Office stopped accepting new applications on the 13th of July 2023.

    If you do not have a letter of endorsement, you should check your eligibility for the new Innovator Founder visa route instead.

    If you already have a Start-up visa, you may be eligible to switch to the Innovator founder visa.

    In general, if you have a valid Start-up visa, you are allowed to:

    • Bring your partner and/or children with you as dependants
    • Have another job as well as working for your business
    • Travel in and out of the UK

    In general, you are not allowed to:

    • Apply for public funds or a State Pension
    • Work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
    • Settle in the UK permanently.
    Man in suit checking time

    Length of Stay and Switching To a Different Visa

    The Start-up visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 2 years. You are not able to extend your stay with this visa, though you may be able to switch to an Innovator Founder visa if you initially set up your business on the Start-up visa, so long as your business is found to be:

    • Assessed and approved by your endorsing body
    • An active, trading and sustainable business
    • Your main job and there is clear evidence you have day to day involvement in your business

    Your endorsing body reserves the right to withdraw their endorsement of your business if there is sufficient evidence to suggest the business is not meeting the eligibility criteria.

    You can re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires, though the 2 year length of stay will remain the same.

    Who is Eligible for the Start-Up Visa?


    This visa route is only available for businesses that have already secured endorsement from an approved endorsing body, either through a valid higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting entrepreneurs. You have until 13 July 2023 to apply.

    The eligibility criteria outlined on this page also apply if you plan to switch to the Innovator Founder visa.

    Your business plan will have been endorsed as it is considered:

    • A new idea
    • Innovative – a unique concept to add to the UK market
    • Viable – clear potential for growth

    Other eligibility criteria states that you meet the following requirements:

    • Be above 18 years old
    • Have a clear criminal record
    • Meet the English language requirements
    • Have a minimum amount of savings available, usually £1270 per applicant
    • Be applying for the visa within 3 months of receiving an endorsement letter.

    English Requirements

    Applicants must prove that they can read, write, speak and understand English at least at a level B1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

    You can prove your English knowledge by providing evidence of the following:

    • A pass in the Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider
    • A GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English, gained during time you spent in a UK school
    • A degree-level academic qualification that was taught in English – you must apply for a certificate from Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) if you studied in Nigeria or another foreign country.

    Investment and Proof of Finances

    You will need to have proven to the endorsing body of your business that you have enough funding for your business idea, and proven where the funding is coming from. The minimum amount required varies according to what type of business you have.

    You are not required to have investment funding if:

    • Your business is already well-established in the UK and was endorsed on a previous visa
    • You have changed or have a new business, and your business idea has an approved endorsing body

    You also need to prove that you have a minimum of £1270 in your bank account for 28 days in a row.

    This money cannot come from your investment funds or from work you have completed illegally in the UK.

    If you hold a valid start-up endorsement, we can help with your application for the UK start-up visa. Contact Us

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      How To Apply for a Start-Up Visa

      The UK Start-up visa application should be done online. If you have mitigating circumstances that mean you need to apply in person, then you can do so at your local immigration office, or if you are in Nigeria, you can apply with our team by visiting our offices in Lagos. Contact IAS today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882 for more information or to book an appointment.


      To get a UK Start-up visa, foreign nationals who want to work in the UK on a long-term basis need to provide proof of identity.

      Depending on whether your passport is recent, or whether you are using a non-Nigerian passport to apply, you must provide proof of identity by either:

      • Providing fingerprints and having your passport photo taken at a visa application centre for your biometric residence permit, or
      • Downloading the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app and scanning your identity document. You will be required to create a UK Visas and Immigration account, if you don’t have one already

      The next steps for your application process will be explained to you once you submit your identity information.

      You may be asked to book an appointment. If this is the case, you need to:

      • Visit the nearest visa application centre in your area – there are Home Office approved centres in Abuja and Lagos
      • Leave your passport and documents with the visa application centre whilst they process your application. Make sure you don’t book any travel during the application processing period.

      If You are Switching from a Different UK Visa

      If you are already working and living in the UK on a different type of visa, and have an endorsement letter for your business and meet all the other eligibility criteria, then you should be able to apply to switch to this visa.

      You will not be able to apply for this visa from the UK if you are living in the country on:

      • A visit visa
      • A short-term student visa
      • A Parent of a Child Student visa
      • A seasonal worker visa
      • A domestic worker in a private household visa
      • Immigration bail
      • A permission to stay outside the immigration rules.
      Entrepreneur with folder outside building

      If Your Family Is Joining You

      If you plan to bring your family with you to the UK, you must ensure that each family member completes a separate application. Each dependant must apply before they travel to the UK.

      In order to complete their application, your family will need to submit your application number – also known as the Global Web Form (GWF) or Unique Application Number (UAN), which can be found in emails and letters regarding your application.

      They will also need to obtain a biometric residence permit, and so will need t o provide fingerprints and have their photo taken at a visa application centre. This can be done in the UK, or in Abuja and Lagos if you are applying from Nigeria.

      We understand how complicated the process is to obtain a Start-up visa, especially if you have family joining you. We are here to help. Contact IAS today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882.

      How Much Does the Start-Up Visa Cost?

      The cost for a Start-up visa depends on whether you are applying from inside the UK and are switching over from a different visa, or if you are applying from outside the UK.

      Below is a list of fees. Please note this does not include additional costs such as costs associated with retrieving or translating documents, proof of funds for you and your family (if applicable), or any legal representation you may require during the process.

      You must also pay the annual healthcare surcharge, which usually costs £624 per person.

      Applicant Fee GBP (Outside UK) Fee GBP (Inside UK/Switch)
      Yourself £378 per applicant £508 per applicant
      Your partner/children £378 per applicant £378 per applicant

      To know the best visa suited for your personal situation, speak to us. Contact Us

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        How Long Will it Take?


        Once you have submitted your online application, and have proven your identity, you should receive a decision on your application:

        • Within 3 weeks if you have applied from abroad
        • Within 8 weeks if you have applied in the UK

        If your application takes longer to process, you will be contacted. Reasons this may be the case are as follows:

        • If another person in your application needs an appointment
        • if your supporting documents require verification
        • If you need to attend an interview
        • If you have a more complex case, such as a previous criminal conviction

        Fast Track Application

        Depending on which country you are applying from, you may be able to pay for a priority application service, which allows you to receive a decision within a week. If you are eligible, you will be notified of this once you have submitted your application,

        If you are eligible and wish to pay for a faster decision on your application, you can choose one of the following:

        Service Cost
        Priority Service – receive a decision within 5 working days £573 per applicant if your visa has the option to settle in the UK permanently
        £250 per applicant if your visa does not allow you to settle
        Super Priority Service – receive a decision by the end of the next working day £956 per applicant

        What Documents Do I Need?

        In general, you will be required to submit the following documents:

        • A valid passport or travel document, clearly stating your identity and nationality
        • Proof of English
        • A bank statement or similar proving you can financially support yourself in the UK with personal savings – you must have a minimum of £1270 in your account for at least 28 days within 31 days of submitting your application
        • If you are travelling from Nigeria or another listed country, you will be required to take a tuberculosis test and submit the results
        • A blank page available in your passport to stick your work visa into
        • Translated documents into English and Welsh, if applicable

        If you are applying for your partner and/or children to join you, you will need to submit the following:

        • Proof of your relationship with the partner/child – this can be done with e.g. a UK-recognised civil partnership or marriage certificate or birth certificate
        • Proof that you’ve been living with your partner for a minimum of 2 years, if applicable – this can be done using joint bank or utilities statements, or rental agreements
        • Proof that any dependants can be financially supported during their stay in the UK
          • £285 for your partner
          • £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child
        • If your child is 16 or over, you will need to prove that they live with you.

        How Can IAS Help?

        Establishing a business in the UK is very exciting, and the UK provides excellent opportunities for your business to succeed and thrive.

        We understand how big of a step this is for you in both your career and personal life, and appreciate how overwhelming the experience might feel. It is hard to know for sure whether you are taking the right immigration route for your business, or if perhaps an alternative visa might be more suited to your needs.

        That’s why IAS exists. We are a team of expert immigration lawyers that can guide you through the entire process and ensure that your application is fully completed and eligible for the visa. We offer personalised support to help you and any family members you have make the move to the UK. Contact IAS today online or call us at our UK office on +44 (0) 3316300929 or Lagos office on +23413438882.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If you have an already established business in the UK and wish to switch over to the Innovator Founder visa, you must ensure that your business:

                  • Has been assessed and approved by your endorsing body
                  • Is an active, trading and sustainable business
                  • Is your main job

                  You will also need to prove that you have at least £1270 to financially support yourself, and must prove that you still meet all the eligibility criteria of the Innovator Founder visa, which are the same criteria that you would need to have met to be approved for your Start-up visa.

                  Yes, it is possible to switch to a Work Visa from a start-up visa, though this could be a complicated process and might impact your business.

                  To apply for a Work visa in the UK, in general you will need:

                  • A job offer and certificate of sponsorship from a valid employer
                  • To meet the minimum salary requirements for the job

                  If you are switching to the Global Talent visa or High Potential Individual visa, you will not require a job offer but must meet other eligibility criteria. These visas require you to prove academic achievement or endorsements proving your leadership in a particular sector of the UK market.

                  No. This visa only allows you to be in the UK for up to two years. You are entitled to switch to the Innovator Founder Visa or a different visa assuming you meet all eligibility requirements.