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Start-up visas: Staying in the UK following your studies

As you may be aware, the government, in its last iteration, made a statement of an intention to bring back graduate post study work visas. This would be a route to remain in the UK following completion of studies at a degree level.

If your intention is however to start a business in the UK, you can also consider the start-up visa. This is for people with little or no business experience but have a good and innovative idea that they can implement. The start-up visa and the innovator visa both require that an ‘endorsing body’ endorses, gives written approval of, the business idea and plans. The Home Office is required to monitor your relationship with your endorsing body as to ensure that they continue to approve of your business.

An endorsement from a university

A considerable number of universities in the UK are registered as endorsing bodies. Many universities run competitions within the university and aid in developing your business idea. This can be a very rewarding process as universities often have teams of business specialists able to provide insight and guidance which will most likely assist, not just with the endorsing process, but with the enaction of the idea itself.

It is worth noting that even if you have now left the UK after having completed your studies, your previous university may consider an application to endorse you. Many universities have opened up applications for endorsements to alumni as well as current students, but you would have to check with your university as to their specific requirements. In addition, the endorsing bodies who offer endorsements for the innovator visa also offer endorsements for Start-ups. So even if you are not currently studying in the UK you may be eligible for an endorsement from a university.

Universities are just one of many routes to an endorsement. For more information on other endorsing bodies read our blog post here.

Start your application early

It is worth making sure that you apply for your endorsement as early as possible. Competitions are often launched infrequently, and you will have to go through the whole process which can involve the preparation of business plans; developing a website; reaching out to potential customers. Recent guidelines I have seen issued by a university requested that applicants contact a minimum of 100 potential customers and record the results!

Clearly this takes planning and preparation.

You may also be required to attend at least one, and often more, demonstrations or presentations in front of assessors at the university. Commonly, following presentations, assessors will give feedback on how you can improve your idea and further steps you should take. Attending as many of these as possible is advisable as you better understand the criteria assessors are using.

This all takes time and therefore the best advice that you can be given is to start the process early, preferably at least one year prior to leave expiring.

After the endorsement what do I need?

After you have obtained an endorsement from your university, or from one of the other endorsing bodies, you will need to apply for leave to enter or remain in the UK.

To be granted leave you will need;

  • Strong enough finances to support yourself and any dependent;
  • English language skills at the requisite level;
  • To clear “general grounds for refusal”, this will question any discrepancies in your immigration history and criminal record.

Westkin Associates Services

Whether or not you apply for an endorsement through a university, it is important that you get you application started as soon as possible and that you are accurate. This is a difficult process, but Westkin Associates has had a great deal of success. We walk our clients through each step of the process and tailor our services to their unique needs as well as the strict requirements of the differing endorsing bodies.

Westkin Associates


5th Floor, Maddox House,
1 Maddox Street
United Kingdom
0207 118 4546

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