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Start up visa

Solent University is an endorsing institution under the Home Office’s Start-up visa route. This replaced Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) from early April 2019. The Start-up visa is for Solent University graduates who demonstrate entrepreneurial potential and wish to start a business in the UK.

The University aims to support international students who wish to stay in the UK to develop their ideas into sustainable UK-based businesses.  This is limited to five students per year between 1 April and 31 March.


To be endorsed you must have successfully completed* a degree-level qualification (BA (Hons), MA, PhD, etc) from Solent University. 

In addition:

  • If endorsed, you must spend the majority of your working time on developing the business idea in the UK.
  • You must not have previously established a business in the UK and/or have had previous leave in the Start-up and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories.

* Applicants who will shortly complete a relevant qualification may also apply but will not receive their endorsement letter until they have successfully completed their qualification. 

How long is the visa?

The Start-up visa is valid for two years. After this period, you can consider switching into the Innovator route, for which you would need an endorsement from an Endorsing Body. Please note, the University cannot endorse businesses in the Innovator route and it is not possible to extend further under the Start-up visa. 

What are the assessment requirements for an endorsement?

The University has a central role in identifying suitable candidates to be endorsed for a Start-up visa. The University will assess applications against the following criteria, as set by the Home Office:





Does the applicant have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?

Does the applicant have, or are they actively developing, the necessary skills; knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business?

Is there evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets?


How much will it cost?

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)




If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia



All dependants

£363 each person

£493 each person


How can I apply for the Start-up visa endorsement?

  1. Complete a Solent University Start-up Visa Business Application form and Personal Details form, available on request from
  2. Visit Solent Futures (RM001), with the above mentioned completed forms and ask to see a member of staff that deals with Enterprise, making it clear that you wish to be considered as a candidate for the Business Start-up visa. After an initial meeting with a staff member, it will be arranged for you to have a consultation with our Enterprise Business Adviser.
  3. Attend a meeting(s) with the Enterprise Business Adviser to discuss your business idea in more detail. Please bring with you your passport, your degree certificate, and existing visa documentation. These documents will be photocopied and held securely by the University and will only be used for the purposes of your application.
    The Head of Employability and Student Enterprise in consultation with the Enterprise Business Adviser approves the progression of your application to be pitched before a decision panel.
  4. Prepare and pitch a time-limited presentation of your business idea to a University selected panel. The panel will usually include the Enterprise Business Adviser, other appropriate members of staff and where required, additional members, for example, if the business is very specialist and an expert in the industry is required. The panel will judge your business proposal against the criteria outlined above.
    One week before the pitching panel, you will need to provide your Business Plan including a Financial Forecast.
    Solent Futures staff will be able to advise and guide you to produce a detailed and professional business plan, which can then be used to pitch to the panel. We would also expect Start-up Entrepreneurs to attend the university’s Business Start-Up Workshops that are run on a regular basis to help in the preparation of the graduate’s business plan and presentation.
  5. Successful applicants will be provided with a formal letter of endorsement on University headed stationery to support an application for a Start-up visa. The letter will include a secure reference number allocated by the Home Office to the University, which needs to be quoted on your visa application.
    You will be asked to complete a Declaration of Intent and Letter of Consent, confirming you will meet the requirements of the scheme, meet with the University regularly and provide the University with permission to share information related to you and the route with the Home Office, including details of your application, business proposal, monitoring, and contact details.
  6. Make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to check and submit your visa application. Appointments can be made via the Student Hub or

What are the visa requirements during your period of endorsement?

  • You can only start your business once you have made the visa application. This is because a Tier 4 visa does not allow you to work on a self-employed basis or engage in business activity.
  • Once you have received the outcome of your visa application, notify the Solent Futures Office. You will be required to bring in your visa for copying onto your record.
  • If your circumstances change you need to inform Solent Futures immediately. This includes a change of contact details, updated passport/visa, if you leave the UK permanently or are no longer working on your business idea.
  • You must spend the majority of your working time on your business idea.
  • The University is required to monitor the progress you are making with your business. You must fully engage with the University’s monitoring processes and attend scheduled progress review meetings to remain in contact. If there are any concerns that you are not focusing on developing the business whilst endorsed on the Start-up visa, the University will consider withdrawing endorsement.
  • There are no restrictions on working hours or working for another employer whilst you develop your business. However, you must ensure you fulfil the requirement to be spending the majority of your working time on your business idea.
  •  Adhere to the conditions set by the University and UK Visas and Immigration. If the University has reason to believe you are breaching the conditions of your leave, we are required to report this to the Home Office.

 Hints and tips to ensure a successful application

  • Give yourself time to develop your idea. A well-planned and thought out idea is much more likely to receive the University’s endorsement. If you need help with business planning, visit our daily drop-in in RM001.
  • Don’t leave your Start-up application to the last minute! Allow at least three months before your existing visa is due to expire to begin the application process.
  • Be patient. Obtaining a visa may take several weeks and certain times of the year are busier than others. 
  • Receiving an endorsement does not guarantee a successful visa application. Start preparing for your visa application in advance, ensuring the required money is in your account in plenty of time (3 months in advance of a planned visa application). 

Making a visa application

You are advised to make an appointment with the International Student Advisor to check and submit your visa application. Appointments can be made via the Student Hub or

To apply outside the UK, you must apply online and have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre. When granted your visa, you will receive a temporary entry clearance stamp in your passport to travel to the UK and then collect your Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP) on arrival in the UK. 

To apply inside the UK (also known as Switching), you must apply online. When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo). 

You will need to provide the following documents with your visa application.

  • Original degree or masters certificate
  • A letter of endorsement from Solent University, issued in the past 3 months
  • Bank statements showing at least £945 in savings (£1,890 if applying from outside the UK). You must have had this in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.*
  • Current passport or other valid travel identification
  • Tuberculosis test results if applying from a country where it is required (Not applicable, if you are currently in the UK or have been away from the UK for less than 6 months).
  • If applicable – permission from your financial sponsor to remain in the UK.  

*Please note, you will not be able to use funds held in your parent(s) or guardian(s) name, and any financial documents evidencing funds must be in your name. There are no ‘low-risk’ nationalities. Every applicant must submit all the required documentation. 

You can: bring dependants to the UK with you. Dependants must apply using the dependant’s application form and read the dependant guidance for further information. Our International Student Advisor can help you with this. 

You cannot: gain access to public funds, work as a doctor or dentist, professional sportsperson (or coach) or settle in the UK.


Page last updated on Tuesday 4 June 2019 at 4.51pm.


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