In addition to acting in films, Saleem is an active Charitable worker, has a number of endorsement deals, and a member of the "Mumbai Heroes" at the Celebrity Cricket League, a non-professional mens cricket league in India.
Saqib Saleem was born into a Muslim family in Delhi, India. His father Saleem Qureshi is a restaurateur, and runs a chain of 10 restaurants called Saleem's, all around Delhi and his mother Ameena Qureshi is a house wife. He has one sister Huma Qureshi and two brothers, Naeem Qureshi and Haseen Qureshi. During college, Saqib briefly assisted in the running of the restaurants, but did not like it. By that time Saqib had already started modelling, and he moved to Mumbai despite his father's preference that he stay in Delhi and earn a Master of Business Administration degree.
Saqib started his career with Cricket playing for Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir. After reaching Mumbai, Saleem started out by doing a few modelling assignments, eventually moving into television advertisements for brands like Pepsi, Lays (with actor Ranbir Kapoor), Tata Docomo, Bar One, KFC, Airtel, Sprite and others. While shooting for the ads, Saqib's interest grew in acting and he started auditioning for film roles in Bollywood films. His close friend, fashion designer Varun Bahl, helped him get a chance to audition for Yash Raj Films. "It was gruelling," he recalls. After eight months of auditioning, he bagged the leading role in the Y-Films romantic comedy Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge.
In 2010, one of his friends informed him that Bollywood film production house Yash Raj Films (YRF) was auditioning for new faces. Saleem was interested and he gave his audition. However, it was 8–9 months before he got confirmation from the production house that he had been selected. The film for which he was selected for was Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of social networking site Facebook; it was directed by debutante Nupur Asthana. Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is a love story which develops on Facebook where the protagonists change identities to make their partners fall in love with them. Starring newcomers Nishant Dahiya and Saba Azad, along with Saleem and Tara D’Souza, the film was released under Y-Films, a subsidiary of YRF. The role that Saleem had to play was that of a college prankster called Vishal Bhatt, who with his friend Hacky, go on playing pranks on their friends. Saleem explained that he "liked the script and I did it. I feel the youth will relate and connect with it. I think the movie will put me in a different light and open lot of doors for me." The youngsters had to undergo a month of workshops under Aditya Chopra, where they rehearsed each other's lines from the script.
Filming began in April 2011, with production continuing till August 2011. Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge released all over India on 14 October 2011, and became a critical success. Anupama Chopra from NDTV complimented the film for being a hackneyed love story, but excitingly brewed with fresh faces. She also commended Saleem's and Azad's acting, calling them faces to look out for in the coming years. Filmfare's Karishma Loynmoon applauded the chemistry and comic timing between Saleem and Azad, and overall dedicating the success of the film to them. Her view was shared by Nikhat Kazmi from The Times of India, who added that the film "brimmed over" with youth iconography. Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge scored high over the other releases like Aazaan and My Friend Pinto. The film collected about ₹5 million (US$78,000) on the first day of its release, adding it to first weekend collection of about ₹22.5 million (US$350,000) in the opening weekend. It was declared an average grosser by Box Office India. By the end of 2011, Saleem was touted as the best newcomer of the year, with Robin Bansal from Hindustan Times commenting that "Saleem’s American Pie college boy style is expected to take him places, if he manages to get plum film projects in the future." Critic Joginder Tuteja commented that although Saleem did not have the personality of a quintessential Bollywood hero, he made his presence felt in Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge. "It will be a pity if he isn’t seen in the years to come", concluded Tuteja. At the 57th Filmfare Awards, Saleem was nominated in the Best Male Debut category.
The following year, Saleem appeared in Y-Films's Mere Dad Ki Maruti directed by Ashima Chibber. The film revolves around a Punjabi wedding, where a boy (played by Saleem) steals his father's car to impress a girl and portrays how his plans go astray. The year 2013 saw the release of the experimental anthology film Bombay Talkies consisting of four short films. Saleem was part of the Karan Johar's segment titled "Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh", opposite Rani Mukerji and Randeep Hooda. He played the role of Avinash, a young homosexual man, who is infatuated by his co-worker's husband.
Saleem followed this success with a lead role of Aniket Bhargava, a skating coach in the 2014 passionate drama Hawaa Hawaai. Directed by Amol Gupte, the film was proved to be a critical and commercial success, and Saleem received positive reviews for his performance; film critic Subhash K. Jha concluded, "Saqib is very cinematic, we witness the full force of Saqib's virtuosity." Noyon Jyoti Parasara wrote that "Saqib justifies his place".
As of 2016, Saleem has several projects from different stages of productions. He has completed filming for Relativity Media and Balaji Telefilms joint-production Dobaara: See your evil, directed by Prawaal Raman. The film will be an official remake of the 2014 Hollywood film Oculus, in which he will star along with his sister Huma Qureshi. He has also finished Vasan Bala's Side Hero, a film made on a boy (will be played by him) who dreams to become an actor in the Hindi films industry. His latest movie is Sajid Nadiadwala's action adventure Dishoom, which is directed by Rohit Dhawan and co-starring John Abraham, Varun Dhawan and Jacqueline Fernandez.Dobaara: See your evil will be released in June 2017.
In addition to acting in films and modeling, Saleem is a member of the "Mumbai Heroes" along with several actors at the Celebrity Cricket League (CCL), a non-professional men's cricket league in India consisting of film actors from eight regional film industries of the Indian cinema. The league was commenced in 2011, and since its establishment, it has been widely reported in the Indian media.