UK Start-Up Visa for Canada Citizens

The UK Start-Up Visa is aimed at entrepreneurial-minded professionals who are looking to set up a business in the UK, and who plan to spend the majority of their time living in the UK working on their business. It will allow you to stay in the UK for a time period of up to two years.

If you are a Canadian entrepreneur who would like further immigration advice and support, contact Total Law for assistance with your application. Speak to one of our expert immigration advisers today. Call +1 844 290 6312 or use the online contact form to get in touch.

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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 a temporary visa program and type of work permit for immigrant entrepreneurs that will allow you to stay in the UK for a limited period of time. This is a good visa route if you are in the early stage of your business with a fully developed existing business plan.

    If you wish to settle in the UK permanently on the basis of your business venture, you will need to apply for an Innovator Visa with the UK Government department from Canada or if in the UK, before your current visa expires.

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    UK Start-Up Visa Requirements

    1. Age Limit

    The applicant for this type of visa must be 18 years of age or older.

    2. Endorsement For Your Business Idea

    The Start-Up Visa applicant must have an original business idea that is endorsed by an approved endorsing body of the Home Office for the UK Government. In order to obtain an endorsement, your business plan must be endorsing body assessed to be viable, innovative, and scalable. There are generally two paths to endorsement:

    • UK Higher Education Institution
    • A Business Organisation With A Proven Track Record Of Supporting UK Entrepreneurs

    3. English Language Requirement

    The applicant must be able to prove English language proficiency through standardized testing or other means.

    4. Financial Requirement

    The applicant must be able to prove they have the funding to support themselves during their time in the UK. You may need to provide bank statements showing a minimum balance in your bank account of about CAD$2,100 for 28 days prior to application.

    5. Visa Costs and Fees

    The visa application fee will be approximately CAD$615 per person. You may incur additional costs by using an expedited service centre, or for any third parties you may need to consult with in order to obtain documents.

    Note that additional requirements may include a tuberculosis test and criminal record check.

    The Application Process

    The application process for obtaining a UK start-up visa is in two main parts: endorsement by the sponsor and visa application by the business entrepreneur/potential visa holder.


    First, applicants will need to obtain an endorsement from a UK Home Office supported endorsing body.

    This may be a UK business or university that will approve your business idea and sponsor your visa application. In order to secure the endorsement, you will have to develop and submit a detailed business plan that proves your business is viable, scalable, and innovative.

    Visa Application

    Once your business idea endorsement is approved, you can begin gathering your required supporting documents and biometric information and submit your visa application, along with the applications of any family members or business team members who will be applying along with you, to the Home Office of the UK Government.

    The fastest way to submit this visa application is to apply online.

    The application will ask you questions about your permanent residence, personal savings and bank account, any immigration programs you have applied to in the past, as well as further proof that you genuinely intend to meet all eligibility requirements of the visa program with your business activity.

    It is important to submit all required documents and forms exactly as requested as this will provide the best chance of your application being approved. Missing or incomplete information can cause your application to be delayed or rejected.

    Processing Time

    You will typically receive an answer regarding your visa application three to four weeks following your submission. Successful applicants will then be able to receive their Biometric Residence Permit within 10 days of entering the UK.

    It may be possible to obtain an expedited application answer by applying through a visa service centre that offers a faster processing time for an additional fee.

    Start-Up Visa Application Fee

    The start-up visa application fee will be approximately CAD $615 per person. You may incur additional costs by using an expedited service centre to receive your application decision faster, or for any third parties you may need to consult with in order to obtain documents such as translators or accountants.

    You must pay an application fee for each person who is applying for the visa, including each family member or business team member.

    You may have to pay additional fees for required biometric information such as fingerprints and a photograph that will be used for your digital passport while in the UK. These fees are typically less than CAD$35.

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      Benefits of a Start-Up Visa

      Once you have entered the UK, you will be able to travel abroad for business or personal reasons and return to the UK during this time, as well as bring eligible family members to join you in the UK.

      You will even be permitted to work additionally in another job as long as the majority of your time in the UK is spent working on your business.

      While on your Start-Up Visa, you must remain in contact with the approved endorsing body business or university.

      If you wish to stay in the UK following your two year period, there are several routes you can take. While there are no extensions for the Start-Up Visa, you may be able to apply for an Innovator Visa if during the initial two year period your business is actively functioning according to visa requirements.

      If your business’s endorsing body agrees on your plan following an assessment, then they will issue another endorsement letter.

      Limitations of a Start-Up Visa

      Should your business idea endorsement be withdrawn during your stay on a Start-Up Visa, you must re-apply for the visa with a new endorsing body (business or university) prior to your current visa expiration date.

      On a Start-Up Visa, there are some limitations that should be noted prior to application. On this visa, you cannot apply for UK government-funded benefits, work in professional sports as an athlete or coach, or permanently settle or gain permanent residency in the UK.

      Additionally, the Start-Up Visa is not a path to permanent settlement in the UK. Therefore, you will need to switch to another visa, such as the Innovator visa, if you plan to pursue permanent settlement.

      If you switch to the Innovator visa and have been in the UK for a period of three years under this visa category, you can then apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK.

      If you would like further immigration advice and support, contact Total Law for assistance with your application. Speak to one of our expert immigration advisers today. Call 0333 305 9375 or use the online contact form to get in touch.

      What If My Start-Up Visa Is Denied?

      If your application for the visa is denied your next step will depend on the reason for denial.

      If the reason your application was denied was that you failed to meet the general requirements, such as age, financial status, or language proficiency, you can wait until you have amended the issue and then apply again so long as you still possess the endorsement for your business from an approved endorsing body.

      Completing your application thoroughly in advance of your planned travel will ensure that it has the highest chance of getting approved.

      How Long Does It Take To Get A UK Start-Up Visa?

      When applying for the UK Start-Up Visa for your business from Canada, you will typically receive a decision on your application within three to four weeks following its submission.

      You may be able to receive an expedited answer when applying through a visa service centre. However, keep in mind you must apply for the Start-Up Visa three months prior to your date of planned travel and you must first obtain an endorsement from one of the approved UK businesses, universities, or other valid UK sponsoring organisations.

      How Can Total Law Help?

      The Start-Up visa is notable as being one of the most lucrative immigration options for those looking to start a new business in the UK.

      However, the requirements for this visa are relatively strict, and it may take some time to ensure that you fully meet all of the eligibility criteria.

      If you require any additional assistance with your Start-Up visa application, Total Law are here to help.

      We provide expert international immigration advice for Canadian citizens. We can help you in your journey in obtaining a UK visa, supporting you all throughout the process up until you’re ready to make the leap to the UK.

      For more information about the services we offer, and to talk to an expert immigration adviser today, call us on +1 844 290 6312 today, or contact us online.

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                Frequently Asked Questions

                If you are a business entrepreneur living in a Non-EEA country such as Canada and you wish to start a business for the first time in the UK, you may choose to apply for a Start-Up Visa if your business idea is approved by a UK Home Office supported Endorsing Body.

                This can be a UK business or university that has a history of supporting innovative entrepreneurs.

                No business funding or minimum investment is initially required to apply for this visa, as your endorsement by the authorised body is proof of your viable business idea.

                However, you will need to prove that you have a minimum amount of required funds in your bank account to support yourself while working on your qualifying business in the UK.

                Your business plan may show how you plan to attract angel investors or get seed money from a venture capital fund, as well as any plans for job creation. When filling out your visa application you will be able to supply any details, including if your business is venture capital firm registered.

                The UK government publishes the list of approved endorsing bodies including UK business organizations and universities who are permitted to sponsor the start-up visa application.

                Contact Total Law at +1 844 290 6312 or by using the online contact form for assistance in applying to the appropriate endorsing body.

                Yes, you can apply as a sole entity or a business team can apply for the visa together as long as your business plan and the original business idea has been approved by an endorsing body. With the start-up visa program, you can also apply for your dependent family members at the same time.

                No, a start-up visa is not a path to settlement in the UK. A start-up visa in the UK is valid for a maximum of two years. which you will have to return to your Canadian permanent residence or another country.