Start-up visa

The Home Office have replaced the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme with the new Start-up visa. This new scheme is for people wishing to remain in the UK for two years to set up a new UK business that must be innovative, viable and scalable.

Applicants must not have previously established a business in the UK and must be able to meet all the Immigration rules and requirements. If you have already had two years leave in the Start-up or Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category you won’t be eligible to apply.

The University of Essex is an authorised Start-up endorsing body. Our scheme is only open to eligible Essex students and recent Essex graduates (up to three years after graduation).

University of Essex Start-up scheme

The University of Essex Start-up scheme is for our current final year students and recent Essex graduates only (up to three years after graduation). Places are limited and endorsements are not guaranteed. The scheme will usually be open for applications in the summer term and will have a deadline each year.

You must be able to meet all the Home Office requirements for the Start-up scheme and be in a position to make a valid immigration application.

For further information on this process or any other questions, please review our FAQ guide.

Who can apply?

The Start-Up Visa can only be applied for by those who have graduated, or completed the taught components of their study, between 18 July - 31 December 2022.

When to apply

The Pre-Qualifying Stage of the application process for academic year 2022-23 the Essex scheme is open for applications between Monday 6 - Monday 20 February 2023. Applications are open to final year students and recent graduates (up to 3 years after graduation).

Complete the Pre-Qualifying Stage application form.

If successful, you will be contacted to complete the full application form between Friday 24 February - Monday 20 March. 

Terms and conditions

It’s important to remember that your Start-Up Visa can be withdrawn at any time if you fail to comply with the criteria set out by the Essex Startups team, the University of Essex or the Home Office. 

Voluntary withdrawal can be on the basis of departure from the UK or a change in visa type. Involuntary withdrawal can be on the basis of no reasonable progress seen, or any intentions to progress, change of business idea or failure to attend 6 monthly monitoring meetings. You have the right to appeal against involuntary withdrawal on the grounds of Procedural Irregularity and New Evidence, this includes if you believe the Essex Startups team have not followed correct procedures for applications and review or if the endorsee has suitable evidence for not meeting the requirements set out in the reasons for withdrawal then they may appeal providing evidence. In any case the endorsee will have 10 days to appeal from the date of withdrawal notice given. 

There will be no appeals against reasons to not endorse at application stage. The review and decision by the Essex Startups team will be final as it is a competitive process, however you will be encouraged to work with the Startups team and to apply for the visa at a later stage. 


How to apply

Stage 1: Pre-qualifying stage

Login to CareerHub and complete the Pre-Qualifying Stage application form. The form will ask you some pre-qualifying questions including an “expression of interest”:

In up to 200 words, explain how you would define ‘success’ in regard to your business idea. You should consider what impact you would like to make and how big an impact you can make with your new business. This should include why the Start-Up Visa is crucial to success and how you will work with the Essex Startups team to achieve this.

If you aren’t sure how to address these questions you must engage with our Essex Startups team before submitting your pre-qualifying form. Contact us to request an appointment with a member of the team. If you submit your pre-qualifying form without fully addressing the above you may not be considered for the scheme.

Once you have considered the above and formed your statement, as well as answered the other questions on the pre-qualifying form, simply click submit.

Our Essex Startups team will review your submitted details and let you know if you have qualified for Stage 2 – the Application Stage.

Stage 2: Application stage

Part of the application process is filling out a Business Model Canvas (BMC) as well as preparing a three minute video pitch. Both of these should be submitted alongside the completed application form.

In order to make sure all submitted Business Model Canvases are filled out correctly to a high standard, it is compulsory that you attend our Business Model Canvas workshop designed specifically to help you with this part of the process.

The workshop will be held online, date to be confirmed. You must be able to attend in order to progress in the process.

The application form, including a link to your video pitch and your BMC, will then need to be submitted by the agreed deadline, date to be confirmed. This form includes answering three critical questions that help us match your idea against the Home Office criteria. These are:

  • How is your business innovative?
  • How is you business viable?
  • How is you business scalable?

The final part of the application stage is the Review Panel Day where we will invite you to participate in a 15 minute Q&A session to support your application.

The review panel will consider your completed application form, your BMC and your video pitch on the day and ask you to attend a Zoom call for any further questions they may have. A Review Panel Day will take place following receipt of all applications, date to be confirmed.

Your application and business idea will be considered and assessed against the Home Office Start-up scheme rules. If your business idea is deemed by our Essex Startups team to meet the criteria, you will proceed to the next stage of the selection process.

This is a competitive process, spaces on the scheme are limited and it is not guaranteed that all applications will be successful.

Stage 3: Immigration and endorsement stage

If your application is successful from a business idea assessment and the Essex Startups team suggests endorsement for you, then your application will be forwarded on to the International Services Team.

The International Services Team will assess your application against immigration and eligibility guidelines and may contact you for any further questions.

A full immigration check will be carried out and you will be required to provide evidence that you are able to meet all the Home Office requirements to make a valid application to the Start-up scheme, including evidence of your finances. You may be asked to meet with a member of the team in person or online.

If you successfully pass all stages and endorsement is agreed, the International Services Team will create your endorsement letter in line with Home Office guidance for the Start-up scheme. This letter will be emailed to you and the Home Office.

Making your Start-up immigration application

Read the Home Office website about making your visa application. Your endorsement letter will be valid for three months.

Once you have submitted your application to the Home Office, you must provide the International Services Team with a copy and evidence of the date you submitted it.

You must inform the International Services Team of the outcome of your visa application immediately and;

  • If your application is refused, you must send us a copy of the full refusal notice.
  • If your visa application is successful, you must bring your (BRP) Biometrics Residence Permit to your Student Services Hub.

Stage 4: Engagement and monitoring stage

Your responsibilities as an Essex Start-up endorsee

You must not start your business until your Start-up visa has been granted.

You must:

  • Stay in contact with our Essex Startups team, as agreed – this will include regular meetings, attendance on the offered workshops, progress reporting and so on. This will be discussed with a member of the Essex Startups team.
  • Ensure that you maintain your immigration status and do not breach the conditions of your leave.
  • Spend the majority of your time developing your business but can also take on other work to support yourself.
    • You must tell us if you:

      • Switch to another visa type.
      • Permanently leave the UK.
      • Start working on a new business venture – as this might jeopardise your current endorsement from the University of Essex.

      If you do not meet the requirements and responsibilities, endorsements can be withdrawn at any point.

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