Start-up visa

Start-up visa

You can apply for a Start-up visa if:

  • you want to set up a business in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

Getting endorsed

You must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either:

  • a UK higher education institution
  • a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • a new idea – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
  • innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable, with potential for growth


Getting endorsed

You must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either:

  • a UK higher education institution
  • a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • a new idea – you cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
  • innovative – you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable, with potential for growth


How long it takes to get a visa

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.


  • You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.
  • You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.



How much you pay for a Start-up visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
You £363 £493
You (if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia) £308 £438
All dependants £363 each person £493 each person

How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK for 2 years on a Start-up visa. You cannot apply to extend this visa.

You may be able to switch to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you’ve:

  • completed your second year on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
  • switched from a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa to a Start-up visa for your second year


If your endorsement is withdrawn

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.

You can only stay for a total of 2 years even if you’re granted a new visa with a new endorsement.


What you can and cannot do

You can:

  • bring family members with you
  • switch to this visa from some other visa categories
  • work in another job, as well as working for your business

You cannot:

  • get public funds
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • settle in the UK on this visa



Before you apply you need to have your business or business idea assessed by an approved body.

They will provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.

You must also:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • meet the English language requirement
  • be able to prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK.


Supporting yourself

You need to have had at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.


Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD

You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.



You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA


Documents you must provide

When you apply you need to provide an ‘endorsement letter’ from an authorised body.

You’ll also need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • proof that you have knowledge of the English language

You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.


Family members

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife or partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant



You must have £630 for each dependant in addition to the £945 you need to support yourself. This is to show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

You need proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Example You must have £2,205 if you want to bring your partner and 1 child with you to the UK: £945 to support yourself + £630 for your partner + £630 for your child.


Start-up endorsing bodies

The below is the list of authorised endorsing bodies that can issue endorsements for Start-up visas:

Business endorsing bodies

The Bakery

The Bakery endorses bona-fide entrepreneurs who qualify for their corporate innovation programmes.

Bethnal Green Ventures

BGV is an early stage investor in tech for good companies who only endorse start-up entrepreneurs accepted onto their support programme.

Blue Orchid

Blue Orchid will only endorse high growth start-ups who are working within their client base across England’s North West and West Midlands.

Capital Enterprise

Capital Enterprise will only be endorsing founders within their community. Check back as this may change with time.

Communities and Business Partners (CBP)

CBP are an award-winning business development organisation, supporting highly innovative, skilled individuals to help realise their entrepreneurial growth ambitions. Selected endorsements are considered for high-growth business opportunities across the UK.


CyLon is interested in hearing from emerging cyber security companies or entrepreneurs planning on setting up an innovative cyber start-up.

Deep Science Ventures

Apply if you are a scientist or engineer determined to start a deep science company. Please apply through the current opportunities page.

DRS Business Solutions

DRS will only consider applications for endorsement from those individuals who they are working with in their client base.

Emerge Education

Emerge Education invests in and supports the growth of early stage education startups.

Emsworth Corporate Planning (ECP)

ECP providing business implementation and mentoring services for dynamic and disruptive companies looking to establish themselves in the UK. They are fully prepared to review a sector-agnostic range of business opportunities. Please visit the ECP website.

Envestors Limited

Envestors is an award-winning corporate finance advisor that endorses international innovators wanting to build a business in the UK and fundraise through their digital platform technology.

First Corporate Finance

They offer an open invitation to entrepreneurs worldwide with innovative business ideas to register in their Business Support Program, with future potential endorsement. Contact them now.

Fortunis Capital Ltd

Fortunis Capital works with motivated individuals and teams who have innovative and scalable proposals that aim to have a positive impact on wider society. They actively manage their entire portfolio.

Founders Factory

Founders Factory is an award-winning tech startup accelerator and incubator. They endorse entrepreneurs joining one their programmes.


They only endorse applicants who are successful in applying for one of their accelerator programmes.

Innovate Britain

Innovate Britain focus on vital enterprise sectors including Education, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Consumer and Infrastructure. Applications are accepted through their website.

Innovator International (powered by Geminus)

Geminus can provide endorsements to clients on their “Innovator International” business support programme, available across the UK.

International Innovation Hub Ltd

An award-winning team who work with highly innovative and skilled individuals to realise their growth aspirations. Located in the north, particularly the Manchester and Liverpool region, with expertise in green and renewable energy, engineering, manufacturing, digital and tech.

Invest Northern Ireland

Invest NI endorses entities for Start-up/Innovator visas through participation on its accelerator program or requests from client companies only.


Kollider is a high growth business incubator. They endorse members with innovative ideas in the creative, digital and tech sectors expected to scale in their markets within 24 months.

Level 39

Level39 only endorses those involved in FinTech, cyber security, smart cities, retail tech and other globally ambitious tech business.


MDR LAB is an accelerator for tech start-ups in the legal space. They only endorse migrants accepted onto their 10-week May-July programme.


MedCitysupports collaboration, investment, entrepreneurship and industry within the life sciences across Greater South-East of England.

NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator

RebelBio specialises in pre-seed investments in Biotech, Healthtech, Life Sciences, Future of Food, Agtech and Biomaterials. They invest broadly in science-based, tech-enabled early-stage start-ups.

Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator
The Royal Society of Edinburgh

The Royal Society of Edinburgh only provide endorsement to their awardees who have received an RSE Enterprise Fellowship. Unfortunately they cannot support any individual who does not fall under this category.

Sapphire Capital Partners LLP

Sapphire is a multi-award winning venture capital firm located in London and Belfast. Sapphire seeks to identify and assist bonafide entrepreneurs who will qualify for further investment through Sapphire’s numerous startup venture capital funds.

Scottish EDGE

Scottish EDGE can endorse winners of its bi-annual funding competition for innovative, high-growth potential Scottish businesses. Approximately 6% of applicants win.


Seedcamp invest early in world-class founders attacking large, global markets and solving real problems using technology. Please visit their website for more information and FAQs.

SETsquared Bristol

SETsquared Bristol incubator will only endorse technology start-ups meeting entry criteria to their incubator and looking to establish an office in Bristol.

Startup Funding Club

Startup Funding Club invests in early stage ventures from across all sectors, leading their first funding round, supporting growth and taking them to the next stage.

The Start-up Race

The Start-up Race are a global accelerator that supports world-class entrepreneurs and start-ups who want to create disruptive and innovative businesses. They only consider applications for Start-up and Innovator visa endorsements from individuals supported through their programmes and communities.

Tech Nation

Tech Nation focuses on entrepreneurs of product-led digital technology businesses and are developing an initiative to identify and support Tech Nation applicants. They aim to begin endorsing applications by April 2020 or sooner if possible. Please visit their website for future updates.

Techstars London

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. They can only endorse Techstars backed Founders and other individuals from the Network.

Tech X

Tech X is a unique tech accelerator & and incubator for global start-ups looking to transform the Energy Sector – offers unparalleled funding and support.

Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator


Higher education endorsing bodies

Anglia Ruskin University

Applications are welcome from ARU students. We regret non-ARU students cannot be considered.

Arts University Bournemouth

Endorsing business in the creative arts industries.

Aston University

For those who have completed a course of study at Aston University in the last 5 years and have had a business idea accepted by BSEEN.

Bangor University

Bangor University only endorses Bangor Graduates on this visa and they must have graduated within 12 months preceding the application.

Bath Spa University

Bath Spa University will only accept endorsement applications from Bath Spa students and their recent graduates (up to 2 years).

Birmingham City University
Bournemouth University

Supporting Bournemouth University international alumni start-ups and innovators across the UK, and exceptional UK HEI international graduates looking to start businesses in Wessex.

BPP University Limited

BPP University will only endorse its graduates in the Start-up route. They will not endorse external candidates or in the Innovator route.

Brunel University London

Brunel University London will only endorse its graduates in the Start-up route. They will not endorse external candidates or in the Innovator route.

Cardiff Metropolitan University

The International Entrepreneurs Programme runs intensively for 6 months from the Centre for Entrepreneurship incubator and includes workshops, mentoring, office space and general support. Cardiff Metropolitan University is currently endorsing its own students and graduates only.

Cardiff University

Cardiff University are only able to consider endorsement requests from their graduate students or any of their students who have completed their studies and are approaching their graduation date.

City, University of London
Contemporary Dance Trust
Coventry University

Open to Coventry graduates only.

Cranfield University

Supporting entrepreneurs every step of their journey, they accept applications from students and alumni of Cranfield.

De Montfort University
Derby University
Durham University

They provide opportunities for start-up visa endorsement to eligible graduating students and graduates of Durham University.

Edinburgh Napier University
Falmouth University School of Entrepreneurship

Creating a unique environment to build sustainable businesses with high-growth potential in one of the UK’s leading creative tech hubs.

Florida State University International Programs Association UK

Florida State University London accepts applications for Start-Up visa endorsements only from graduates of FSU or US Universities with whom they have existing affiliations.

Girne American University Canterbury
Glasgow Caledonian University
Goldsmiths University of London

Applications will only be considered for ‘Start-Up’ endorsement from eligible graduating students or graduates of Goldsmiths University of London, who wish to remain in the UK to start up a new business idea with the support of the University. For more information please visit their website.

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Guildhall Creative Entrepreneurs is an incubator to help people in the performing arts launch and advance their own enterprises. Guildhall School will only endorse graduates from Guildhall School.

Heriot-Watt University
Hult International Business School
Imperial College London
Keele University

Keele Business School Smart Innovation Hub, and the Research and Innovation Support Programme will support selected Keele students and alumni.

King’s College London

The Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London will support start-up visas that meet UKVI criteria from current and former King’s students.

Kingston University
Lancaster University
Leeds Arts University
Leeds Beckett University
The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
Liverpool John Moores University

They will only endorse graduates from LJMU. They will only consider applications from postgraduate students who hold a current Tier 4 visa.

London Business School

They accept applications from students and alumni, as well as co-founders working with LBS students or alumni.

London Metropolitan University
London School of Economics and Political Sciences

For LSE students, with the exception of non-LSE applicants who are key members of an LSE team only.

London South Bank University

They can only endorse applicants who have graduated from LSBU within the last 2 years and have not started a business in the UK before.

Loughborough University

Endorsing body for Loughborough University graduates. Contact the Loughborough Enterprise Network for further information.

Manchester Metropolitan University
Middlesex University
Newcastle University

Newcastle University will only endorse graduates from Newcastle University. They will consider applications from graduating students and recent graduates (up to 3 years).

Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Norwich University of the Arts
Nottingham Trent University

Only open to students and recent graduates (within the immediate 2 years preceding date of application) of Nottingham Trent University.

Oxford Brookes University
Plymouth College of Art

Plymouth College of Art welcomes endorsement applications from graduates and alumni of the college.

Queen Mary University of London

Open to Queen Mary University of London graduates only.

Queen’s University Belfast

They only accept applications for endorsement from Queen’s graduates and applicants must have completed a degree within the last 12 months.

Ravensbourne University London
Regent’s University London
The Robert Gordon University

They consider endorsements from graduates of Robert Gordon University which have been accepted on and participate in their Startup Accelerator Programme. Further information can be found on the The Robert Gordon University website.

Roehampton University
Royal Academy of Music
Royal Agricultural University
The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Central will only accept endorsement applications from their current students and their alumni (within 2 years of completing studies).

Royal College of Art
Royal Holloway and Bedford New College
Sheffield Hallam University
SOAS, University of London
Solent University
Swansea University
Teesside University
University College London

UCL will only consider applicants who have graduated from UCL in the last 12 months. Please visit their website for further information.

University for the Creative Arts
University of Aberdeen
University of Bath

Only endorses graduates who have graduated from the University of Bath within the previous 2 years and meet SETsquared membership criteria.

University of Birmingham
University of Bradford

The University of Bradford welcomes applications to its Accelerated Global Entrepreneurship programme from eligible graduates of any university. An innovative business or social enterprise plan is required. Applicants must be committed to basing themselves and their enterprise in Bradford.

University of Brighton
University of Bristol

The University of Bristol will consider endorsing their students for Start-up following a rigorous application process.

The University of Buckingham
University of Cambridge

They consider endorsement for those who are graduating or have graduated from the University of Cambridge.

University of Central Lancashire
University of Chester

They will only endorse start-up applications from Chester students who graduate in the same academic year and who possess an outstanding, genuine and credible business idea in line with the university’s criteria.

University of Dundee
University of East Anglia
University of East London

They only accept applications from UEL Students or Graduates. Their programme is competitive with limited endorsements therefore align your application to the criteria.

The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh endorses Start-up applicants who have a close demonstrable relationship with their institution (students and alumni).

University of Essex
University of Exeter

The University of Exeter will only consider endorsements for students and graduates of the university who engaged with entrepreneurship activity during their studies.

University of Glasgow
University of Greenwich

Endorsements allocated through the annual enterprise challenge, run by the university’s i3 centre. Open to graduates of the university only.

University of Hertfordshire Higher Education Corporation

They only accept endorsement applications from their current students and their alumni (within 1 year of completing studies).

University of Huddersfield
University of Hull
University of Kent
University of Leeds
University of Leicester
University of Lincoln
University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool will only endorse students who graduate from the University of Liverpool within the same academic year.

University of Manchester

Only graduates of the University of Manchester will be considered for endorsement.

The University of Northampton
University of Northumbria at Newcastle
University of Nottingham
University of Oxford
University of Plymouth
University of Portsmouth

To apply for endorsement applicants must be students or graduates (up to 5 years) from the University of Portsmouth.

University of Reading
The University of Salford
University of Sheffield

Endorsement only available to those who have or are due to complete studies at the University of Sheffield.

University of South Wales

They will only consider endorsement for those who are graduating or have graduated from the University of South Wales or RWCMD within the last 12 months.

University of Southampton
University of St Andrews
University of Stirling

Accepts applications for the Start-up category from students with proven engagement with the Enterprise Programme and/or UoS alumni: Innovation and Enterprise Team.

University of Strathclyde
University of Sunderland

Their Enterprise Place offers start up support, 1-1 business advice, structured workshops and networking opportunities for their alumni.

University of Surrey

External start-ups must meet SETsquared Surrey incubator criteria and adhere to the incubator membership for the endorsement duration.

University of Sussex
University of the Arts London

The University of the Arts London offers endorsement exclusively to UAL graduates within 2 years of graduating. The scheme is delivered by careers and employability.

University of the West of England

Their Launch Space provides physical incubator space and enterprise support for graduate start-up businesses at UWE.

University of the West of Scotland

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) will endorse current students or recent graduates who demonstrate an innovative business idea and entrepreneurial mind-set.

The University of West London
University of Ulster
University of Wales Trinity Saint David – Carmarthen Campus
University of Warwick

They will consider applications from Warwick graduates with a viable business idea that they wish to start in the UK.

University of Westminster
University of Wolverhampton
University of York
York St John University