Start-Up visa endorsement
This route is for new entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea which has been assessed and supported by an approved endorsing body. In all cases applicants must provide a letter of endorsement from a Home Office approved endorsing body (the University of Kent is an approved endorsing body). Applicants are only allowed a maximum of 2 years under this route. Leave previously held in the legacy Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route counts towards the maximum 2-year limit.
More information on the Route can be found in Appendix Start-up of the Immigration Rules. The Home Office website has a guide to applying for the Start-up route and they have published guidance for Home Office staff assessing applications.
Who qualifies to apply for Start-Up endorsement?
To apply for endorsement, you need a realistic, clear and detailed plan of how your business will work.
The proposal needs to ensure your your endorsing body is satisfied of that "the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing business ventures" and that these criteria are met:
- Innovation: you have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
- Viability: your business plan is realistic and achievable, and you have or you actively developing the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business
- Scalability: there is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.
Other requirements to be endorsed by the University of Kent include:
- Start-Up applicants must comply with the financial requirements before the endorsement can be granted. (Immigration Rules, Appendix Finance) and more specifically Immigration Rules Appendix Start-up - Immigration Rules.
- Applicants must be Kent students who have successfully completed (and been awarded) a degree from the University of Kent by the time they are applying for the visa and not graduated longer than 2 years before the date of application.
- Prospective Start-Up applicants must be in a position to meet all the eligibility requirements before the expiry of their current Tier 4/Student route visa if applying from within the UK.
- Development and presentation of a credible business plan and attendance at meetings at the University to discuss and evaluate the suitability of your idea.
What will I receive as a University of Kent Start-Up visa holder?
- 24 months to develop and launch your business.
- Support and guidance from the team at Kent Business School’s ASPIRE (Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise).
How do I apply?
Start by completing emailing ASPIRE@kent.ac.uk with your expression of interest. Subject to an initial review of your idea and eligibility, you would then receive an invitation to a briefing event at the ASPIRE (Sibson, Canterbury campus).
Following the briefing event, you will have the option to enter the formal selection process which includes an interview with an assessment panel and evaluation of your business plan.
Selected candidates will be invited to pitch their business idea to the panel and be formally interviewed.
Panel interviews will generally only take place on selected dates in October and July each year.
Following the interviews, a decision will be made on whether to endorse.