In this step-by-step guide we will walk through the process of gaining permanent residency status in the UK through the creation of a new Start-up business. If you’re an ambitious entrepreneur, read on to discover why starting a business is a great way to go about gaining full settlement status in the UK and what makes the UK the perfect destination for your new venture.

InvestUK is on hand to help make the journey from starting your business to gaining your visa as straight forward as possible. Get in touch to learn more about how we can make sure your visa application and business can be a success.




Why starting a business is a great route to permanent residency in the UK.

The only faster route to permanent residency other than to start a business is to marry a UK resident or invest two-million pounds in a UK business via the Investor visa, but without a soul-mate to hand, or the funds for the investor visa available, these routes are far less flexible or attainable for many people. Another flexible route that could be worth considering is the Skilled Worker visa which you can find out more about on the government website. The problem with the Skilled Worker visa route is that it doesn’t easily allow you to start a business alongside your work, where-as you can take on employed work while on the Start-up visa and simultaneously run your business alongside.

It is worth mentioning, however, if you do go with the Start-up visa route, you will need to transfer onto the Innovator visa after your 2 years on the Start-up visa to count towards your 5 years in the UK that will subsequently allow you to apply for UK settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain). To be on the innovator visa. You can find out about all the eligibility requirements for the Innovator visa, here. One of the core criteria that it is important to mention is that you will need to have £50,000 in your bank to invest into your business idea, but at least the money’s going into something that you will hopefully grow and not an over-priced wedding dress. The money can always be taken out of your business if you change your mind. If the £50,000 is still too costly, the Skilled worker route would likely be the best route for you.


The Start-up visa: a great route for graduates and ideal for those interested in living the entrepreneur life.

Those who haven’t previously considered this a viable route after graduation may be surprised to discover that going this route offers a number of significant benefits, such as improved employment opportunities, insights into self-improvement and the potential for higher income than you may receive in a graduate role. First and foremost, there is arguably no better time to start a business than after graduating from university, you may have few commitments and responsibilities, enabling you the freedom of mind and conscience to take the necessary risks and make the mistakes that will ultimately reap the rewards and shape your business.

You can still take this route even if you’re not a graduate simply by applying for the Start-up visa with your business idea, but having the support of your university behind you in the form of funding or business mentorship often offered through enterprise services that your University may offer such as funding or business mentorship, as well as the networking opportunities you will gain with the students on your course are major advantages that you may not have by simply applying for the visa without going to university first.


The UK’s longstanding economic strength and strong support from the government makes the UK the perfect place to start your business.

We have written an article dedicated to why starting a business in the UK is a great idea, but some of the key features that make the UK the perfect environment to cultivate your business and give you the best chances of success include it’s a strong yet innovative economy, responsible for having nurtured 72 ‘unicorn companies’ over the past 20 years – the fourth largest number in the world. The UK Government’s longstanding ‘Business Impact Target’ and ‘Cutting Red Tape’ review programmes are established with the ambition to aggressively cut restrictions to business following Brexit, the UK is now more outward-looking than ever and ready to open up free trade links with the world, improving prospects for those with global business ambitions.


Settling in the UK via the Start-up visa.

If you have a great business idea but you don’t know where to start, find out more about the benefits of the Start-up visa route and how InvestUK can assist you.

Step-1: Secure your place at a UK University: –

Aside from the occasional interview, admission to UK universities can be straightforward if you meet the grade requirements. Once admission has been granted, you will be ready to join the other half-a-million graduates that come to study in the UK every year. Your university will be able to guide you through all aspects necessary for your travel to the UK, your student visa status and settling into life in the UK.

Step-2: Get a Student visa: –

It could be worth looking into whether you are eligible for a Student visa before or simultaneously to even applying to your preferred courses and universities. You can find out more about whether you are eligible and the costs associated with an application on the UK government website. General eligibility requirements include providing a passport, photos, proof of University ‘Admit’, and your UK address as well as the need to provide a medical certificate showing you are tuberculosis-free. The visa application fee is £348 and there is a healthcare charge of £150 per year which contributes to the National Health Service.

Step-3: Work While Studying: –

Although the prospect of focusing 100% of your time on your business and it being successful is exciting, working in internships and part-time jobs alongside your studies will allow you to build up contacts for references and future employment opportunities. It is easy for students to find an internship and jobs in the UK given the strength of the UK economy. Doing so will give you an insight into how businesses generally operate and help you decide whether starting a business is the right path for you. It will also provide you with a strong CV for you to fall back on if your business venture doesn’t work out.

Step-4: Apply for a Start-up visa during or after your studies then, after two years, apply for the Innovator visa

Prepare your business idea and apply for a Start-up visa endorsement either during or soon after your studies. You can switch to the Start-up visa during your studies, and the sooner you do it, the sooner you will start the clock towards achieving Indefinite Leave to Remain status. Many UK universities have been granted endorsing body status for the Start-up and Innovator visas, making the application process convenient for their students.

Step-5: Apply for an Innovator visa after two years of holding a Start-up visa

Once you’ve received your Start-up visa and made significant progress on your business, you’ll be able to apply to switch to the Innovator visa. Your endorsing body might offer this switch in-house. Once you’ve switched to the Innovator visa, you won’t be allowed to study anymore, nor will you be able to work outside of your business.

Step-6: Apply for Permanent Residency: –

Once you have fulfilled all the previous steps you are now in a position to apply for the Indefinite Leave to Remain visa and secure your residency in the UK, find out more about what is required for eligibility, here.

InvestUK is on hand to help you in this journey from conception of your business idea to tailoring your business to meet your needs and the needs of the visa criteria. Get in touch today to find out more.

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