Start-up Visa

Start-up changes 13 April – 13 July 2023

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has advised the University that the Start-up scheme will be closed to new endorsements by 13 April 2023.  Any new Start-up endorsements must be issued by 13 April. The Start-up visa route will be closed to new applicants by 13 July 2023.

Loughborough Enterprise Network will continue to review any candidates who have already submitted an Expression of Interest with a view to endorse in time where appropriate.  The University will continue to support those who have already been endorsed and are taking part in Start-up.

This is a brief guide to Start-up visas for students and graduates of Loughborough University.

For advice relating to your individual circumstances we recommend that you contact: 

In general the University will only consider endorsing those who have successfully completed degree level study at Loughborough University (including who have obtained a Loughborough University validated degree from study elsewhere). Exceptionally the University may only consider endorsing anyone else if alternative endorsement is not possible and a necessary business case has been made for a joint endorsement by a Loughborough graduate business partner applying under the Start-up category. 

This guide does not cover endorsements that may be made by another organisation for that information you should have a look at the Government webpage

From 6 April 2019 Start-up replaced and expanded the previous Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme. It is aimed at ‘early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs who are starting a business in the UK for the first time’. 

People who have previously established a business in the UK* or spent 2 years in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start-up categories are not eligible. *There is an exception if your last visa permission was; 

    • Doctorate Extension Scheme (DES), or 
    • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), or 
    • Start-up 

and you started the business during that time.  

As part of the endorsement process the University will need to be satisfied that the applicant has a genuine and credible business idea that is innovative, viable and scalable. Loughborough Enterprise Network (LEN) will assess whether any proposed business meets the relevant criteria and check that these criteria continue to be met as the business develops. 

UKVI provide an overview of the Start-up visa route and details are given in Appendix Start-up of the immigration rules. 

You can find more information about the start-up visa application by having a look at the webpage linked below. Keep reading for other information about the start-up visa. 

Special arrangements due to Covid-19

Where restrictions to visa services or travel have made it not possible to use an endorsement within its normal validity period UKVI has confirmed it may still accept the endorsement, such applications may still be considered on a case-by-case basis. Otherwise it may be possible to issue a fresh endorsement. 

If you have permission in the Start-up route but have been unable to develop your business as planned due to the impact of Covid-19, provisions have been made to exceptionally allow a visa extension beyond the normal maximum period of 2 years for a further 12 months. This is only available on one occasion. A new endorsement would be required relying on LEN being satisfied that reasonable progress had been made taking into account the impact of the pandemic. You would then need to submit and pay for a further visa extension. If this is relevant you should consult with LEN and seek advice in good time, you should also prepare your financial evidence at least 3 months before visa expiry. 

What conditions are attached to a Start-up visa?

If your application is successful, your visa will be granted for two years. However, if you have previously held permission undergraduate Entrepreneur or Start-up the maximum total visa time under both categories is two years and the time granted under Start-up will be reduced accordingly. During this time you will need to spend the majority of your working time developing your business in the UK. You will agree a schedule of regular meetings with LEN to review progress, failure to make reasonable progress with your business development or maintain contact as required can lead to the University withdrawing its endorsement. 

In addition to developing your business you are allowed to be employed in other work but you cannot be employed as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach). 

You will not be allowed access to ‘public funds’ (which means most welfare benefits and certain public housing). Students who are required to register with the police will have to continue to keep their registration up to date. 

The University is obliged to report the following to the Home Office: 

    • You fail to maintain contact as agreed 
    • There is evidence to suggest you are not complying with your conditions of stay 
    • You are no longer participating in the scheme 

A report or the withdrawal of your endorsement can lead to your visa being curtailed. 

How can the University Support you?

You can find guidance on various visa topics on the University’s webpages. These webpages include the most common visa related topics, questions and issues. You should always use the webpages first however if you require advice or guidance beyond what is covered on the webpages you can contact the Student Advice and Support Service.

External Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I start running my business?

You will usually start any business after the visa permission is granted. 

If you hold Student permission / Tier 4 it generally does not allow you to be self-employed or engage in business activity. The immigration rules define self-employment as registering as self-employed with HMRC (as required for tax purposes) or being employed by a company in which you are a majority shareholder. 

If you currently hold Student permission/ Tier 4 and apply to switch to Start-up with an endorsement  issued by the University you are allowed to start running your business before the application is decided, a successful application would allow this to continue. 

Doctorate Extension Scheme permission allows self-employment. 

Applying for Start-up after Graduate Entrepreneur

If you have been granted one year’s stay as a Graduate Entrepreneur it is possible to extend your visa for a second year under the Start-up category. The maximum total time available under both categories is 2 years. You will need to have a second endorsement from the University and make another visa or visa extension application. Existing Graduate Entrepreneurs who do not fully meet the new Start-up criteria may still be endorsed if satisfactory progress has been made with business development. 

Student Advice will be able to advise and assist with checking your draft visa extension application before you can be endorsed again. 

Visas after Start-up

Individual advice on switching into any other work category at the end of Start-up is outside of the University’s expertise. For specific help with applications for any other work-related visa you may need to seek advice from a specialist immigration adviser. 

Can my dependants stay with me or come to the UK?

If you are in the UK and your spouse or partner and children are with you as your dependants, they can apply to stay with you. 

If your spouse or partner and children are overseas, they can submit an application for permission to join you as your dependants. 

Candidates with dependants should seek individual advice about application procedures, additional maintenance requirements and application fees. 

Last Updated: 13th March 2023