Below you will find information on the Start-up visa and the GCU endorsement application process. 

Start-up Visa introduction

The  Start-up visa, launched in April 2019, replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and is suitable for budding entrepreneurs who want to start a business in UK. Further details on eligibility can be found available on the gov.uk website.

The new route has replaced a visa route which was exclusively for graduates, opening it up to a wider pool of talented budding entrepreneurs.

It requires applicants to have acquired an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor. GCU is an endorsing body, and we accept applications for endorsement from current GCU students, and graduates. Note - If you are not a GCU student/graduate, we may be able to accept your application under certain circumstances if it is referred to us through our recognised partner - Please contact the VISA Team for more information. 

 

Coronavirus information

In March 2020, the government released new guidance for endorsing bodies under the Tier 1 Start-up route in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The VISA Team have reviewed this guidance and are on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Due to travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, some individuals may be unable to arrange visa appointments or travel to the UK. Due to the economic impacts, some individuals may experience difficulties fulfilling their business plans and maintaining contact with their endorsing body (GCU). The VISA Team is here to support both students going through the endorsement application process, and endorsed individuals throughout this time. 

In line with the new guidance, GCU will continue to accept endorsement applications, but a VISA Advisor will discuss your circumstances and ability to travel and/or work on your business, based on the current global situation at the time of your application.

If you are an endorsed individual and have any questions relating to your Tier 1 Start-up checkpoint, business progression, or visa issues relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk and an Advisor will be happy to assist. 

For more detailed information, please see the information below: 

Tier 1: Information for applicants and endorsed individuals:

Due to travel restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, GCU understands some of our applicants and endorsed individuals may be unable to arrange visa appointments or travel to the UK. Due to the economic impacts, you may also experience difficulties fulfilling your business plans and maintaining contact with us, if you are already endorsed by GCU.

  • Individuals who have not yet been endorsed:

GCU may still issue endorsements, but the VISA Team will be in touch with you if you have an application in progress to discuss whether you are able to make a visa application, and to consider current travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The VISA Team will also discuss with you whether you are likely to be able to start developing your business in the UK under the current situation. If not, The VISA Team will delay your endorsement until a later date as required.

  • Individuals who have been endorsed but have not yet applied for a visa:

Endorsement letters are valid for 3 months. If you have been endorsed but are unable to make a visa application within this timeframe, please contact The VISA Team who will issue you with a new endorsement (using a new secure reference number) before you apply.

Individuals who have applied for a visa but are unable to travel:

Please contact the VISA Team if you are in this situation, who will contact the Home Office directly to inform them of your case, and refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration guidance on gov.uk for the latest information.

  • Individuals who are due to have a checkpoint with their endorsing body:

GCU will maintain contact checkpoints with endorsed individuals wherever possible. It is not necessary for these to be face-to face and we will arrange checkpoints via telephone or video conference. Please ensure you are maintaining contact with your Tier 1 mentor. If you have concerns regarding this, please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk.

All Tier 1 Start-up applicants and endorsed individuals have GCU’s full support throughout this time, and we will make allowances for the current situation when considering your progress against your business plans, and, where possible, discuss future contingencies. GCU must notify The Home Office if you miss a checkpoint without prior agreement, so it is important you let your mentor and the VISA Team know as soon as possible if you cannot make a checkpoint for any reason.

  • Individuals who need to apply to extend their stay:

GCU will continue to issue endorsements as normal to individuals who are in the UK, whose visas are expiring, and who wishes to apply to switch into the Start-up category. Please contact visa@gcu.ac.uk if this applies to you.  You should also refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) immigration guidance on gov.uk for the latest information.

Switching from Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

You may be able to switch into the new Start-up route if you have not yet had the maximum 2 grants of leave under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route. If your Start-up endorsement is from the same endorsing body (GCU) your business idea will not need to meet the new Start-up criteria in relation to innovation and scalability.

Register your interest

Please email your interest to the VISA Team at visa@gcu.ac.uk with the following details:

 

  • Your GCU student ID number
  • Your full name
  • Your nationality
  • When you graduated (If you have not yet graduated, please advise your expected graduation date)
  • Full title of your degree (or the course you are currently studying)

We will then be in touch with further instructions.

After registering interest
  • If you are eligible to apply for the Tier 1 Start-up visa, you will be provided with a personalised checklist. This checklist details the documents you will require to submit for your endorsement application, and also the supporting documents you would require for your visa application, should your application for endorsement be successful.
  • Prior to submitting your application for endorsement you will be offered tailored business support resources to help develop your idea and plan further. 
  • You should prepare your endorsement application documents and send them on to VISA at visa@gcu.ac.uk. We are happy to help you with any questions you have on these documents.
  • The VISA Team will receive and check your documents, and will contact you if there is any further information required.     
  • Complete applications will be put forward to the panel
  • The panel will evaluate applications, and shortlisted candidates will be invited to interview via Video-call.
  •  If shortlisted, you will attend the panel interview which is an opportunity for the panel members to find out more about your idea. 
  • Following your interview, you will find out within 5 working days if your application for endorsement has been successful or if it has been deferred. 
What documents should I prepare?

You should start by preparing your business plan, and your CV. These documents will be sent with your endorsement application form. Please refer to the attached presentation from Careers for advice on your CV.

We recommend you contact the university's Entrepreneurial Hub UHatch, who can offer guidance and assistance with your business plan and financial forecast. Please see their website and contact information below:

T: +44 (0)141 331 3000
E: UHatch@gcu.ac.uk

http://www.gcu.ac.uk/uhatch

You will also want to make sure that your passport and Police Registration Certificate (if you require one) are up to date.

If your application for endorsement is successful, you will then be required to submit various supporting documents which are necessary for your visa application, including evidence that you meet the required maintenance funds. Please see details of these below:

·         If you are applying in the UK, you will need at least £945*.

·         If you are applying outside the UK, you will need at least £1890*.

*Subject to any UKVI changes.

You will need to be able to show that you have these personal savings which cover a period of 90 days, and the document that shows this must have a date that is not more than 31 days before the date you apply for your Tier 1 Start-up visa. Our advisors will be able to give you more detailed information on this, when you come to see them to receive your personalised document checklist, which is part of the application process.

For more information, please see the Home Office’s Tier 1 Start-up visa guidance at the below website:

 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-w-immigration-rules-for-workers#part-w5-specific-requirements--start-up

 

Please note that if you plan on submitting an application for endorsement, you will be required to pay the Endorsement Application Fee of £105.00. Further details on this fee will be provided at the point of receiving your personalised checklist.

Business Development Support

Before your endorsement application: 

Once you have registered your interest, you will be offered an initial 30 minute appointment with a VISA Advisor who will provide an overview of the Home Office requirements of your Start-up business. You will then be offered tailored business development resources dependant on the stage of your business. 

As you progress further towards submitting your application for endorsement, you will also have the chance to meet with a Business Development Advisor from the University's entrepreneurial hub UHatch before you submit your finalised business plan with your application. 

After your endorsement application:

If you are successful in securing endorsement - 

Successfully endorsed entrepreneurs are required to join UHatch. You will be offered an array of personalised business support throughout the duration of your 2 year visa as well as:

  • Office space - hot-desking and co-working space
  • Funding opportunities of up to £50,000
  • A year-round schedule of exciting workshops, mentoring sessions and training opportunities
  • The growing UHatch network
  • Banking, insurance and legal expertise through a program of workshops
  • An experienced UHatch mentor network

If you are unsuccessful in securing endorsement - 

If your endorsement application has been unsuccessful, you will have the opportunity to utilise further resources to assist in business development and will be able to submit a further application for endorsement with either the same or another business idea. 

 

Further information

You can find out out more about the Start-up visa on the gov.uk Start-up visa webpage.

This provides further information on:

  1. Eligibility
  2. Knowledge of English
  3. Documents you must provide
  4. Apply
  5. Switch to this visa
  6. Family members

Please get in touch with a VISA Advisor if you require more details.