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Start-up Visa

What is the Start-up visa and who can apply?

The Start-up visa is aimed at non-UK nationals who wish to establish a business in the UK and whose business plan has been endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body. This visa has replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. You can stay in the UK for two years on the Start-up visa.

Your family members (dependants) can join you or stay with you in the UK under the Start-up visa scheme. A dependant is defined by the Home Office as your husband, wife or partner, or your child under 18. 
You can apply for the Start-up visa outside the UK or you may be able to switch to this visa if you are already in the UK on a different type of visa. 

If you are successfully endorsed by the University, International Student Support can then advise further about the UKVI visa requirements. We will be able to help you prepare the required documents and help you to submit the online Start-up visa application. 

Who can apply for endorsement from Queen's University Belfast?

Queen’s University Belfast is a Home Office approved endorsing body and endorses a maximum of 10 Start-up visa applicants per year. 

Queen’s University Belfast only accepts applications for endorsements from Queen’s University Belfast students/graduates. Applicants must have successfully completed a bachelor's or postgraduate degree at Queen’s University Belfast within the last 12 months. You can apply for endorsement before graduation however any endorsement would be subject to the successful award of your degree. 
How do I apply for endorsement from Queen’s University Belfast? 
Please contact the Graduate School at Queen’s University Belfast for further information about the University’s endorsement process:  

Switching from Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 (General)/Student visa and your business idea has been endorsed by a Home Office-approved endorsing body (the University), you can apply to switch to the Start-up visa. You must be able to show that your business idea is: 

  • a new idea – you cannot join 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 – it is realistic and achievable 
  • scalable – it has potential for growth 

UKVI Financial Requirement (depending on where you apply)

Applying in the UK if you have been here for 12 months or more 
If you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with permission on the date of application, you do not need to show financial evidence. 

Applying in the UK if you have been here for less than 12 months OR applying outside the UK 
If you have been living in the UK for less than 12 months with permission on the date of application, you will need to meet the UKVI financial requirement. 

If you are applying outside the UK, you will need to meet the UKVI financial requirement. 

To meet the UKVI financial requirement, you will need to provide a bank statement/letter showing you have held at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply. Your bank statement/letter must not be dated more than 31 days before the date you submit your visa application. 

Full details of UKVI’s financial requirement, including the requirement for dependants, can be found here. 

Documents you will need to apply

  • Valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality 
  • Proof of your current immigration permission (i.e. Biometric Residence Permit card) 
  • Up-to-date police registration certificate (if you are required to register with the police) 
  • Written consent from your Official Financial Sponsor (Government or international scholarship agency) that they consent to your application to stay in the UK (if you were wholly sponsored by them in the last 12 months before the date of application) 
  • Financial evidence to meet the UKVI financial requirement (depending on when and where you apply. See UKVI FINANCIAL REQUIREMENT section above for further information) 
  • Endorsement letter from the University to prove that your business idea has been assessed and the University is willing to endorse it. This can only be provided after you have been successful at a panel meeting and after you have been successfully awarded your degree 
  • Tuberculosis test results (if you are from a country where you have to take the test and are applying outside the UK) 

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

How much does it cost to apply?

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

Visa application fee 

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
Yourself £378  £508 
Your partner and children £378 each person £508 each person

If you’re from an eligible country You must pay the visa application fee for each person that applies at the same time as you or applies later to join you in the UK. 

Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re from one of the following countries: 

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey. 

This reduction only applies to your visa application. Your partner and children will still need to pay the full application fee. 

Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS) fee 
You will also have to pay the Immigration Healthcare surcharge as part of your application. The cost is £624 per person, per year that the visa is granted. So, as the visa will be granted for 2 years, the cost for the IHS should be £1,248 per person. 

If you are applying to switch in the UK 
You may need to pay an additional fee of £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken. 

Working Under the Scheme

The point at which Students can start undertaking business activity depends on when they were last granted permission: 

  • If your last visa was granted before 1 October 2019, you may only engage in business activities once your Start-up visa has been granted. You will be bound to your Tier 4/Student visa working conditions until you have been granted Start-up immigration permission. This means that self-employment or engaging in business is prohibited and, therefore, you will not be able to set up or operate your business until your Start-up immigration permission has been granted 
  • If your last visa was granted on or after 1 October 2019, you may engage in business activities once you have applied to the Home Office for your Start-up visa 

With a Start-up visa you can work in another job, as well as working for your business. You cannot work as a professional sportsperson, including as a sports coach. 

Monitoring the Scheme

You will be required to maintain contact with the University (your endorsing body) and attend progress review meetings throughout your endorsement period. The University will consider withdrawing endorsement if: 

  • an endorsed graduate does not attend the agreed progress review meeting with a representative from the University as requested;  
  • there is evidence to suggest that an endorsed graduate is breaching the conditions of their leave; 
  • an endorsed graduate is not spending a credible amount of time developing their business or other entrepreneurial activity; 
  • an endorsed graduate’s business has failed and they do not wish to start another business, or the business they intend to start is not deemed to be innovative, viable and scalable.

Further Information

If you have any questions about the University’s Start-up endorsement processyou can email the Graduate School at
If you have any questions about the Start-up visa application requirements and processyou can email International Student Support at

Visas & Immigration
V&I Webpage
International Student Support
ISS Webpage