For students

Start-up visa

We may be able to help if you have a business idea you would like to progress after graduation but need a visa to stay in the UK.

Start-up visa

The Start-up visa is for early-stage, but high potential, entrepreneurs who are starting a business in the UK for the first time.

It offers a one-off, two-year visa, during which you will spend the majority of your time developing your business but can also take on other work outside of your business, to support yourself.

Successful applicants can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK. At the end of two years, you can switch to an Innovator visa to extend your stay and develop your business in the UK.


To apply, you must be endorsed by an authorised body.  The University of Edinburgh is an authorised body and the team at Edinburgh Innovations, who provide the student enterprise service, may be able to endorse your application for a Start-up visa.  

To be endorsed you must be able to demonstrate and evidence that you have a genuine and credible business that will meet the following criteria:

  • Innovation: There must be a genuine business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
  • Viability: You have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business;
  • Scalability: There must be evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.


You may have already begun setting up your business, but should not yet have commenced trading. The only exceptions to this are if you have already been granted leave under the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories, or under the Tier 4 doctorate extension scheme.

You must be fully engaged with the Student Enterprise Service at Edinburgh Innovations for a minimum of 3 months prior to application or be able to provide evidence that you have been developing your idea independently for at least 3 months.

You do not need any funds to invest in your business at this stage, however, please note you will need provide evidence that you have had at least £945 in cash funds in your name, for 90 consecutive days. This evidence that you can cover living expenses should be dated no more than 31 days before your visa application.


We are currently accepting endorsement applications.

Next Steps:

1. Please read this informative guide which tells you all you need to know about startup visa endorsement at the University of Edinburgh. 

2. Download the Start-up visa Pre-application form and complete it using the Start-up visa Guidelines above.

To make an initial enquiry about a Start-up visa please submit your pre-application to:


The University of Edinburgh's Student Immigration Service webpage is a great online resource.

Official Start-up visa Guidance and Information- British Government