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Applying for a Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa from Dubai

Please note that the Start-Up visa has been discontinued. For similar visa routes contact our team for assistance with your immigration needs.

If you are looking to start a business in the UK, you can apply for the Start-up Visa or the Innovator Visa. These UK Entrepreneur Visas are available to those who have a business idea which has been endorsed by an authorising body in the UK.

For more information about the application process for the Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa, contact our UK immigration lawyers today on 0333 305 9375.

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS for Your Business Visa

    Our team of immigration lawyers are experts in providing support to those applying for a business visa. Our goal is to maximise your chances of a successful outcome and ease your business travel/immigration.

    IAS offers a comprehensive range of services, including Business Visa advice, document checking, business visa application, and concierge support.

    Our dedicated immigration lawyers provide our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach to maximise your chances of success. Enjoy the following benefits by opting for IAS:

    A personal immigration lawyer to provide answers to any concerns.

    Guidance through the business set-up to ensure it qualifies for the business visa.

    Reduce the risk of rejection through a high-quality application that we complete.

    Confidence that your case is being handled by an experienced team of lawyers.

    Regardless of what your business immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    Setting up as an Entrepreneur in the UK

    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).

    With one of the largest economies in the world and an open and welcoming business culture, the UK is one of the most attractive places to do business in the entire world.

    If you want to start a business in the UK from Dubai, you can apply for a Start-up Visa or an Innovator Visa. The one which you should apply for depends on your own individual circumstances.

    You can complete your application for both of these visas from Dubai, with no need to step foot on British soil during the application stage.

    In this page we set out what you need to know about the Start-up Visa and Innovator Visa.

    What are the Requirements for my Business?

    If you want to apply for one of these entrepreneur visas, it is not enough to simply want to open your business in the UK – your business idea must meet certain conditions.

    The business idea must be:

    • Innovative. Must have a genuine and original business idea and plan which meets either new or existing needs in the UK
    • Viable. Your business idea must have potential for growth
    • Scalable. Your business plan must have potential for job creation and growth into national markets

    If you are able to meet these conditions, you should be able to receive endorsement from a relevant authorising body. The authorised body must be either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK-based entrepreneurs.

    What is the Start-up Visa?

    The Start-up Visa is for those who are new to the world of entrepreneurship. The main requirement is that your business idea must be endorsed by an authorising body. Unlike the Innovator Visa, you do not need a specific amount of money behind you to apply for this visa.

    You will need to meet the following conditions to be eligible for the visa:

    • Must be at least 18-years-old
    • Your business idea must meet the criteria set out above and received endorsement
    • Must be able to prove that your English language ability is to at least the level of B2 as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
    • Must be able to prove that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply for the visa
    • Must genuinely intend to undertake business activities in the UK

    What is the Innovator Visa?

    The Innovator Visa is aimed at more experienced businesspeople who are looking to start a business in the UK.

    In order to be eligible, you must have around £50,000 to invest in the business, and your business idea must have been endorsed by an authorising body.

    • Must be at least 18-years-old
    • Your business idea must meet the criteria set out above and received endorsement
    • Must be able to prove that your English language ability is to at least the level of B2 as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
    • Must be able to demonstrate that the investment money will be acquired through legitimate means
    • Must be able to prove that you have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply for the visa
    • Must genuinely intend to undertake business activities in the UK

    What are the Required Documents for UK Business Visas?

    In order to prove your eligibility for either of these visas, you must provide satisfactory documents and information. This is a crucial part of the application process. Failure to provide an adequate portfolio of documents could result in your application being delayed, or even rejected.

    Some of the information and documents which you will need to provide includes

    • A valid passport or other travel document
    • Proof that your English language ability is to the level of B2. This could be a pass test certificate or a unique reference number which shows your pass result
    • Endorsement letter from the approving body
    • Evidence of your investment funds (for Innovator Visa application)
    • Evidence proving you meet the financial requirements. This will usually involve providing bank statements

    Any information which is not in English or Welsh must be translated by an accredited translator. You will usually need to provide both the original and translated versions of the information.

    In most cases, you will need to scan and upload your documents to your online application account. You might be able to do this at your appointment instead – you usually need to pay an additional fee to do this.

    For more information about applying for UK business visas from Dubai speak to our lawyers toda

    What are the Application Fees and Processing Time?

    The fees for these visas are as follows:

    Who and visa typeFee (from Dubai/outside UK)Fee (extend or switch in the UK)
    You (Start-up Visa)£363£493
    Your partner/children (Start-up Visa)£363 per person£493 per person
    You (Innovator Visa)£1,021£1,277
    Your partner/children (Innovator Visa£1,021 per person£1,277 per person

    The processing time for both visas is three weeks if the application is made from Dubai (or the United Arab Emirates).

    However, your application could be delayed if UK immigration officials have any concerns with your application. In these circumstances, you might be asked to attend an interview or verify certain documents.

    You might also be able to use one of the priority services if your application is time sensitive. With the priority service, you can pay an additional £500 and your application will be processed within five working days. With the super priority service, your application will be processed within one working day at an additional cost of £800.

    What is the Application Process from United Arab Emirates?

    Once you have completed the online application form and paid your visa application fee, you will need to attend an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services centre.

    You will receive an email from United Kingdom Visas and Immigration after you have completed the application form and paid all necessary fees. This appointment should be offered at a visa application centre in Dubai.

    Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we can help you to prepare your Start-up Visa or Innovator Visa application to the very highest standard. Our highly experienced UK immigration lawyers understand what it takes to formulate a successful application.

    We will pair you with one of our business immigration caseworkers. They will take the time to understand your own unique circumstances and will advise you on your eligibility, as well as the information which you will need to provide for your application. This invaluable guidance could be the different between a successful or a rejected application.

    Your immigration lawyer will complete your application form and submit all your information and documentation, ensuring it adheres to all necessary administrative standards. They will also advise you on what you need to know for your visa application appointment.

    Once your application has been submitted, your lawyer will follow it through every step of the way, keeping you informed of your application’s progress and will liaise with the UK Home Office.

    To find out more about our specialist UK business visa application packages, please do not hesitate to call us now on 0333 305 9375.

    Can my Family Join me in the UK?

    Yes, certain family members can join you in the UK from Dubai if you are successful in your application. They will need to submit their own application and documentation and pay the full application fee too.

    The following family members can join you in the UK:

    • Your spouse/civil partner
    • Your long-term unmarried partner
    • A child under 18
    • A dependent child over 18

    As a family, you will need to prove that you have additional money available to you. You, your partner or your child will need:

    • £285 for your partner
    • £315 for one child
    • £200 for each additional child

    Can I Apply for an Extension on my Visa?

    The Start-up Visa is valid for up to two years. You cannot extend the Start-up Visa, but you can switch to the Innovator Visa if you meet the necessary requirements.

    You can stay in the UK for up to three years under an Innovator Visa, and you can extend it for a further three years provided your circumstances haven’t changed significantly.

    It is important to note that with both the Start-up Visa and the Innovator Visa, your visa will usually be withdrawn if your endorsement is withdrawn.

    Both the Start-up Visa and the Innovator Visa are reckonable towards minimum UK residency requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain, which is a form of settled status. Those who whole Indefinite Leave to Remain can live in the UK without any immigration restrictions imposed.

    Under the Innovator Visa, you could be eligible after just three years of UK residency. After you have spent one year living under Indefinite Leave to Remain, you will be eligible for British citizenship.

    Our lawyers offer emigration support and advice, get in touch today to find out more

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    The Immigration Advice Service is a leading immigration law firm, with a wealth of experience in the area of UK business immigration law.

    We can help you to formulate your Start-up Visa or Innovator Visa application to the very highest standard. With our specialist application package, one of our UK immigration lawyers will work with you through the entire application process.

    To find out more about how we can help you to begin your entrepreneurial journey in the UK, please call us now on 0333 305 9375.

    The Start-up Visa is aimed at those who are new entrepreneurs, whereas the Innovator Visa is for those who are more experienced.

    Both of these visas require your business idea to be endorsed by an authorising body. The Start-up Visa does not require the applicant to have a specific amount of money to invest in the business. However, Innovator Visa applicants need to have around £50,000 to invest in their company.

    The Start-up Visa is valid for a maximum period of two years and cannot be extended. The Innovator Visa is valid for up to three years and can be extended for a further three years too.

    Also, those who have been living in the UK for three years under the Innovator Visa are eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status, provided their circumstances haven’t changed significantly. This is a form of settled status, which means they can live in the UK without any immigration restrictions imposed on them.

    You need to demonstrate that your English language ability is to at least the level of B2 in speaking, writing, listening and reading as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

    The most common way of demonstrating your English language ability is to take a SELT test. The four SELT test providers which are approved by the Home Office are as follows:

    • Trinity College London
    • IELTS SELT Consortium
    • LanguageCert
    • Pearson Education Ltd

    There are numerous approved test centres in Dubai where you can take the test.

    Usually, you won’t receive a physical pass test certificate and instead will be given a unique reference number which you will need to quote in your application.

    You do not need to take the English language test if:

    • You have a GCSE, A Level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English which was gained through study undertaken in a UK school when you were under 18
    • You have a degree-level academic qualification which was taught in English. If you undertook the degree in Dubai (or anywhere else outside the UK), you will need to apply for confirmation through UK NARIC that your qualification is equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher academic qualification

    Yes, it is possible to apply for your visa from inside the UK. The application fee is more if you apply from inside the UK, and you will have to wait eight weeks rather than three weeks for your application to be processed.

    The immigration health surcharge is an annual fee which you will need to pay as an overseas national in the UK.

    As a Start-up Visa holder, you will need to pay £470 per year. Innovator Visa holders will need to pay £624 per year.

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