Student Immigration Service

Start-Up visa

This visa category is for people seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. Applicants must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea supported by an endorsing body. The Start-Up route replaces the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.

The University of Edinburgh is one of the endorsing bodies for the Start-Up route. While a UK degree is not required to be eligible for the Start-Up visa, we will only endorse applicants who can have a demonstrable close relationship with the University of Edinburgh (for example, students or alumni).

The Start-up visa is granted for a maximum of 2 years. Start –up visa holders can then switch to the Innovator visa, which will allow them to continue developing their business in the UK.

Innovator visa

How do I qualify for endorsement?

Applicants are selected by Edinburgh Innovations, who have established clear guidelines and criteria for selection.

In order to qualify, you must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea and must have been fully engaged with Edinburgh Innovations for a period of at least 3 months.  

There are two main application deadlines in May and Novembe each year. For further information about the selection process for endorsements, applicants are encouraged to get in touch with Edinburgh Innovations.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

Edinburgh Innovations

What documents do I need to apply?

If you are selected for endorsement by Edinburgh Innovations, we will assist you with the visa application process.

You can find full details of the evidence you need to prepare in our document checklist.

Can I apply from the UK?

In order to be eligible to switch into the Start-up visa route from within the UK, you must have a valid:

  • Tier 4 visa; 
  • Tier 2 visa;
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa: this is only applicable if you haven’t yet been granted 2 years’ leave in this category; 
  • Permission to be in the UK as a standard visitor who is undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur as set out in the UK Immigration Rules

How much does it cost?

Information on the visa application fee can be found on the Home Office website.

Home Office immigration and nationality fees 2019

As part of the application, you will also need to pay for the Immigration Health Surcharge. The cost for the Start-up visa is £800.

Home Office website – Immigration Health Surcharge Information


You are allowed to bring dependants under this visa route. Please contact us for further information on what they need to apply.

Skilled Workers and Students Policy Guidance 

For further information about the Start-up visa please contact us.


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