The Start-Up Visa is a new 2-year visa route (established in Spring 2019) which is for early-stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs who are starting a business in the UK for the first time. It replaced the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme.
The Start-Up Visa is for people setting up a new business in the UK which is innovative, viable and scalable, with the ultimate aim that the business has the potential to become fully integrated and a contributing part of the UK economy.
People who have previously established a business in the UK or spent 2 years on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) or Start-Up categories are not eligible.
We require that you thoroughly read the Home Office information (especially the policy guidance) in advance of submitting an application.
Who can apply?
In order to apply for a Start-Up visa, you need to meet the following government criteria:
• Have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea (explanation below)
• Be at least 18 years old
• Be a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
• Have had your business/business idea assessed and endorsed by an approved endorsing body
• Demonstrate that you have held at least £945 in a bank account in your name for at least 90 consecutive days leading up to the date that you submit your visa application online
• Meet the UKVI's English language requirements
• Not have started a business in the UK before.
In addition, in order to apply for an endorsement with King’s College London, you also need to meet the following criteria:
Have, or be in the process of completing degree-level study with King’s College London and have:
• Undergraduate students: completed all exams and coursework
• Postgraduate Master's & Postgraduate Taught students: completed all exams and submitted your dissertation
• PhD students: submitted your PhD thesis
Be an equity-holding co-founder in the company you are applying with
King’s College London does not accept any applications that do not meet the stated criteria.
King’s College London Endorsement Process
There are two application windows per year, and no applications will be accepted outside of these dates. The next application windows are as follows:
October 15th – November 15th 2020
April 15th – May 15th 2021
The endorsement process is designed for the Entrepreneurship Institute to determine if your business proposal is innovative, viable and scalable as per the government criteria for this visa route.
Applications are currently closed. The application form will be available here when the next application window opens.
You can view the questions that are included on the application form in advance here.
You may also supply a business plan to support your application that is no longer than 6 pages (size 12 font, single spaced) and email this in to firstname.lastname@example.org. Documents that exceed this limit will not be considered.
PLEASE NOTE: we may share your application with third parties in the cases where technical expertise is required to assess the application.
If you are shortlisted from the application stage, you will be asked to attend a panel interview in which you will present your business idea and answer questions on your proposal. We aim to notify all applicants whether they have been shortlisted within two weeks of the application window closing date.
You will hear back from your interview within one week and the panel’s decision is final.
Coronavirus update: we will be proceeding with our application and interview process as normal during this current visa window (15th April-15th May 2020). However, as visa centres are currently closed, we will not be issuing endorsement letters to successful candidates until visa centres re-open, given that endorsement letters have a 3-month expiry date.
If you're successful, you'll be issued a copy of the KCL endorsement letter from King's Visa Compliance department (valid for three months only), which will be part of your application for the Start-Up visa to the Home Office.
You must apply within three months of the date of issue of the endorsement letter. If a visa application is unsuccessful, it is possible to reuse an endorsement letter in a fresh application within its three-month validity.
For example, if the endorsement letter is dated the 1st June this endorsement letter will be valid for three months until 1st September of the same year (valid for 3 Months)
Innovative, Viable and Scalable?
The Entrepreneurship Institute at King’s College London are responsible for assessing your business proposal against the government criteria to determine whether your business is innovative, viable and scalable. We have given explanations and examples of the types of questions we would expect you to be able to answer for each of the criteria below:
Innovative – Does the application have a genuine, original business idea that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?
Your business idea solves a problem in a new and unique way?
There a demonstrable need for the business in the UK market that is not already being fulfilled
Your business differs from your competitors, your offer is better than others on the market
There may be Intellectual Property in your idea that you can protect under a patent?
Viable – Does the applicant have, or are they actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to run the business successfully?
You have completed customer research which proves there is a need for your product and that there are customers who are willing to pay for your product or service
There is scientific evidence that your product or service will work (if applicable)
Your team have the skills, knowledge and experience to make the company a success
You have a clear strategy for getting your product or service to your potential customers (route to market)
Scalable – Is there evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets?
The market size is big enough to sustain the company and is likely to gain sufficient traction
There are opportunities to expand the offer of the company
The business/revenue model allows for growth
See below for answers to frequently asked questions about the Start-Up Visa. If your question isn't answered there, then email your query to email@example.com.