Start-up Visa

Start-up Visa

Who can Apply for a Start-up Visa?

The Start-up visa is aimed at non EU/EEA individuals 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.

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

Queen’s University Belfast is a Home Office approved endorsing body and endorse 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, you can apply to switch to the Start-up visa. The endorsing body must be able to confirm that your business meets the following criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Viability
  • Scalability

Financial Requirement (Maintenance)

You must have held £945 of funds in your own name in a bank account that is acceptable to the Home Office for a period of at least 90 consecutive days. Your bank statement, letter or closing balance must not be dated more than 31 days before you submit your visa application.

Working Under the Scheme

If you are switching from Tier 4 to the Start-up visa, you will be bound to your Tier 4 work conditions until you have been granted Start-up immigration permission. This means that self-employment or engaging in business are prohibited, and therefore you will not be able to set up or operate your business until your Start-up immigration permission has been granted.

After your Start-up visa is issued you can set up and operate your business, and you can take other employment. You are not permitted to work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.

Monitoring Under the Scheme

You will be required to maintain contact with your endorsing body and attend progress review meetings throughout your endorsement period. Your endorsing body should consider withdrawing their endorsement if:

  • you fail to stay in contact as requested;
  • your endorsing body discovers that you have not been developing your business;
  • your business has failed and you do not wish to start another business, or if the business you intend to start is not deemed to be innovative, viable and scalable.


If you have further visa questions you can email International Student Support at

Visas & Immigration

V&I Webpage

International Student Support

ISS Webpage