Start up Visa

On 13 June 2018 the Home Secretary announced the Start Up visa, which has since replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur (GE) visa. 

Similar to the Tier 1 GE Visa, the Start Up visa has been designed for individuals who wish to pursue entrepreneurial activities in the UK.

Coventry University is licenced to endorse graduates who wish to become Start Up visa entrepreneurs. Our endorsement is combined with our ‘Emerge’ programme of incubation delivered at Coventry University Social Enterprise in Coventry, or the Enterprise Hub at our London location.

The Start Up visa is a single 24 month visa. Coventry University only has 20 endorsements for this type of visa each year, therefore, our selection process is competitive, extensive and rigorous. As such, we anticipate the standard of our applicants will be high and that we will only accept ‘Start Up’ Visa Entrepreneurs that have credible, innovative and genuine business ideas that have real potential to grow into businesses which contribute to the UK economy.

Can I apply?

You can make an application under this category if you are in possession of a Coventry University group qualifying degree award dated no more than two years prior to the date of your application to the Start Up visa.  This is not a Home Office requirement, as the Start Up visa does not strictly require applicants to be graduates, however Coventry University will not endorse applicants who cannot meet this criteria.  If you cannot meet this criteria, you should consider another endorsing body published on the UKVI website.

You must have had your business idea successfully assessed by Coventry University Social Enterprise, or the Coventry University London Enterprise Hub and the International Office.

It is possible to apply within the UK, provided you have current valid leave under one of the following visa categories—

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (All Categories)
  • Tier 4 (General)
  • Standard Visit Visa (Type C) - only if you came to the UK to get funding and had a supporting letter from an endorsing body

Unlike the outgoing Tier 1 GE category, you can switch to Start Up visa if you have previously had Post Study Work leave or were granted leave under the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland, International Graduates, or Science and Engineering Graduate Schemes.

When should I apply?

You are required to show that you have money to support yourself in your bank account for at least 90 consecutive days prior to the date of your application, so it is advisable to begin preparing your application as soon as possible.

You should expect the assessment of your business plan to take a minimum of two weeks and another two weeks for administration. However, the process may take longer depending on your individual circumstances. You should plan to make your application from outside the UK if you have not completed the business assessment process in full, less than one month before the end date of your visa.

Once we have assessed your application, and if we are willing to sponsor you under Start Up visa, we will support you through the visa extension process. We will issue you with an endorsement letter that is valid for three months from the date of issue. If you do not make your application within the validity of your Letter of Endorsement, the University may not be able to issue you a new letter.  

How much money will I need?

The Home Office maintenance requirements specify that money available to you must be held in your account for a period of 90 consecutive days. The closing balance of your bank statement must be no more than 31 days before the date of your visa application. The required amount of money is as follows:

  • £945 if you are applying from inside or outside the UK

You can use an account in your name only or a joint account if you are one of the named account holders. You cannot use an account in the name of your parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

In addition to the above UKVI maintenance requirement, an additional maintenance requirement is imposed by the University to all applicants for this programme. You are required to show that you have access to a minimum of £8,000 in your personal savings, which includes the UKVI maintenance, to ensure you have sufficient money to maintain yourself in the UK whilst you establish your business. The breakdown of the £8,000 is as follows.

£5,000 – payable directly to CUSE for Coventry University or to Coventry University London for Enterprise Hub incubation

In addition, you must also show

£2,055 – maintenance to show Coventry University, maintained for minimum 28 days


£945 – maintenance to show the Home Office (+£630 per dependent, if applicable) maintained for 90 days

What documents do I need to apply?

The Start Up visa is an appendix W work visa. This means that you need to meet the requirements according to the rules published online for your application to be successful.

If you are sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency, or if you have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency within the 12-month period preceding your application, your financial sponsor must confirm in writing that it unconditionally consents to this application. This written consent must include permission for you to extend your stay in the UK under the Start Up visa.  

How much will it cost?

The current Home Office application fees for Start Up visa are listed in the table below. These fees could change with little or no notice, so we would always recommend checking the government website for up to date fee information.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
Yourself £363 £493
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £308 £438
All dependants £363 each person £493 each person


You will also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

For applicants based in Coventry, there will be a charge of £5,000 (including VAT) to provide incubation services for the following 12 months. For applications based in London, there will be a charge of £6,000 (including VAT) to provide incubation services for the following 12 months. This will be payable twice during the term of this 24 month visa. Please see the section titled ‘What Will I Receive?’ for further details.

Work restrictions

If you make your application from within the UK before your previous Tier 4 visa expires, you can work under the terms of your previous Tier 4 visa whilst your application is being considered by the Home Office. If you have completed your course, this time will be considered as your vacation time so you can work full-time, however the restrictions in place from your Tier 4 visa concerning the types of employment you are able to undertake continue to remain in place until your new Start up visa is granted.

When your application is granted, you are allowed to set up and develop your business and, in addition to this, you can take full time/part time employment in the UK without needing sponsorship from your employer. The number of hours a week you can work is unrestricted however you are not allowed to work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including work as a sports coach).

You should wait until the Home Office has granted you permission to stay under the Start Up visa before starting work on your business. This is because you remain subject to your student work conditions until your Start Up visa leave has been granted and student conditions prohibit self-employment or engaging in business.

The ‘Start Up’ visa allows for work outside of your business, however, it is important that you meet all your responsibilities as a Start Up visa entrepreneur and ensure you are fully engaged in your business development.

Your responsibilities as a Start Up visa entrepreneur

If you are granted a visa it will be for a period of 24 months. This visa cannot be extended further than the initial 24 month grant of leave, however, there is an option to progress to another enterprise related visa called the ‘Innovator’ visa. The Innovator visa requires endorsement which Coventry University do not provide. If you plan to progress through this visa route, you may wish to seek additional legal advice prior to progressing through this visa route.

In line with the requirements of the visa and our ‘Emerge’ programme of incubation, we will track your progress, according to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set at your monthly review meetings.

As part of your responsibility, you will need to remain in contact with us whilst you are in the UK under Start Up visa. It is very important that you do not miss scheduled contact without seeking Coventry University's permission first. This is because Coventry University is required to report students to the Home Office if they miss contact without permission, and the Home Office can cut short (curtail) your immigration permission.

You must contact and inform the University, via your University Business Mentor, if you intend to leave the UK for a short break at any time of the year.

You must also contact Coventry University, and the Home Office, with any change of address details. You can inform the Home Office of this online and email Coventry University on

You will be required to sign an application form to confirm that you consent to these arrangements prior to your Endorsement Letter being issued.

Please note, this list is not exhaustive. The Start Up visa policy covers all your rights and responsibilities as a Start Up visa Entrepreneur.

What will I receive?

If you are successful, you will be provided with:

  1. A hot-desk space with PC and access to printing including relevant software packages
  2. 12 months registered trading address at Coventry University Technology Park as part of the ‘4front’ for business offer
  3. 2 hours mentoring per month with a University support professional to align your business plan with milestones and KPI delivery
  4. Access to the University business support programmes managed by the business support team/Business Development Manager
  5. Access to the Global Leaders Programme for 12 months as appropriate
  6. Access to Coventry University London business support services as appropriate

For the services listed above, and as part of the conditions of your sponsorship, there will be a non-refundable charge to you for incubation service provision of £5,000 (including VAT) per 12 months of sponsorship. The fee must be paid in full once you receive your visa, as part of the scheduled support services under the Home Office monitoring criteria. Failure to make this payment will result in sponsorship being withdrawn and will affect your immigration status in the UK.


The following family members can apply to be your dependant in the UK:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • unmarried partner, or same sex partner, who is not a civil partner
  • children aged under 18 if they are outside the UK
  • children of any age if they are applying in the UK and they currently have immigration permission as your dependant and are not leading an independent life

The amount of money dependants must show is £1,260 per person if the application is made outside the UK or if you have been in the UK for a period of less than 12 months. If you are in the UK and have been for 12 months or longer, the funds required for family members is £630 per person. The money must have been held for 90 days consecutively before the date of the application. The policy guidance for Points Based System dependants lists the forms of acceptable evidence of funds.

Find out more about the Points Based System (Dependant) policy guidance.

Next steps

If you are interested in making an application, we suggest following the process outlined below.

  • Please visit the Social Enterprise Office (CUSE) based on Whitefriars Street or email to book an appointment
  • Discuss your idea with CUSE staff members to get all the information you require
  • If provisionally accepted, CUSE will recommend you to meet with a staff member in the Student Centre to obtain a checklist. The checklist provides you with initial immigration clearance to start working on your business idea. Please visit the Student Centre to book an appointment or email
  • Once you have the checklist, you should return to CUSE to seek more professional business support and they will guide you through the stages
  • If you are ready and successful, you will be invited to a panel meeting where you will be able to present your business idea for assessment
  • If you meet the assessment criteria, you will be provided with an endorsement letter
  • The International Office will assist you with your visa application

Please note, Start Up visa is not an automatic right to Coventry University or Coventry University London graduates. Only the best and brightest entrepreneurs will be eligible for this programme after meeting the stringent entry requirements. Our Start Up visa is only available to CU Group graduates, which includes Coventry University and Coventry University London.

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