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Startups if you're from outside the UK

Explore how to set up your business in the UK as an international student, and find out how we can support you

You may not be able to start your business while you're studying if you're a non-UK/EU international student. We'll support your startup development during your studies so you're ready to start trading after you graduate. Visit us at an enterprise clinic to discuss your options.

Starting a business in the UK after you graduate

To start your business you'll need the correct visa. The Start-up visa is for non-EEA international graduates (currently on a Tier 4 Visa) with a viable, innovative and scalable business idea that they want to put into practice in the UK. We are an endorsing institution for these visas. Applicants need to be a University of Portsmouth student or graduate (within the last five years) and meet the specified criteria.

Attend one of our drop-in enterprise clinics to start the application process.

Deadlines for submissions:

  • Draft business plan: Midnight, Thursday 23 April 2020
  • Final business plan: Midnight, Tuesday 26 May 2020
  • Endorsement Panel: Wednesday 24 June 2020

University of Portsmouth Start-up visa endorsement

The Start-up visa is for non-EEA international graduates (currently on a Tier 4 Visa) looking to start a business in the UK for the first time. Emphasis will be placed on the following key criteria: 

  • Innovation: Is there a genuine business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creatives a competitive advantage? 
  • Viability: Does the applicant have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to successfully run the business? 
  • Scalability: Is there evidence of structures planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets? 

Applicants must meet the criteria below in full and be students or graduates of the University of Portsmouth. 

Applicant criteria 

Applicants must:

  1. Begin the process at least 3 months before their existing visa is due to expire 
  2. Be fully engaged with the Student StartUp Team at the University and must participate fully in either the Route To Startup programme or Social Startup development programme 
  3. Have a valid Tier 4 visa which can be switched (following approval by the UKVI) to the Start-up Visa
  4. Provide evidence that they meet the maintenance funds requirement of £945 (minimum balance across 90 calendar days) if applying from inside the UK, or £1890 if applying from outside the UK

Further information about eligibility, as well as the visa application form and guidance notes can be found at the UKVI website.

Applying for your start-up visa

Step 1 

Contact us by visiting an Enterprise drop-in Clinic or by emailing studentstartup@port.ac.uk for an appointment.

Step 2

Submit a draft business plan to show proof of: 

  • a valid Tier 4 visa (with at least 3 months remaining) 
  • a valid passport 
  • an academic reference 
  • your qualification certificate (if you've already received it) 
  • copies of bank statements to evidence maintenance fund 

Business plan templates can be found in our resources section

Step 3

You'll receive feedback from the Student StartUp team on your business plan. If your startup is deemed eligible for the scheme you'll attend either the Route to Startup or the Social Startup programme, depending on the type of business you intend to develop. 

Step 4

You must submit the following to the startup team before you can proceed and present your business idea to an evaluation panel: 

  • a formal written application for Start-up visa endorsement
  • a robust and comprehensive business plan 

Your business plan must make good use of graduate-level skills and demonstrate how your business will contribute to the UK economy to qualify for the visa. Business proposals seeking to establish a routine business which competes with other local traders are unlikely to be successful. Emphasis will be placed on the following key criteria: 

  • Innovation: Is there a genuine business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creatives a competitive advantage? 
  • Viability: Does the applicant have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to successfully run the business? 
  • Scalability: Is there evidence of structures planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets? 

We must receive your completed business plan a minimum of 20 working days before the formal panel meeting. Find out the exact dates by contacting us at studentstartup@port.ac.uk

We reserve the right to refuse a formal application if your business plan doesn't reach the quality threshold deemed worthy of external scrutiny. 

Step 5: Evaluation Panel 

The panel meets twice a year; once in November or December and once in May or June.  

You'll deliver a 15-minute presentation to the panel which will be followed by a question and answer session. 

The evaluation panel will comprise of the following: 

  • a staff member from the StartUp team 
  • a staff member from Academic Registry 
  • a senior academic member of University staff 
  • a subject/industry expert 
  • a visiting entrepreneur 

Panel members will be asked to declare any personal or professional interests or connections prior to the panel meeting. 

The decision of the panel will be final. There is no appeal. In rare circumstances the applicant may be asked to supply further information to the panel in a given timeframe before a decision is confirmed in writing. 

If the applicant is successful the University of Portsmouth will issue you an endorsement letter. 

Notes of the meeting (and supporting documentation) will be made available to the UKVI on request. 

After your application 

The University is responsible for supervising successful applicants for 24 months following Start-up visa confirmation from the UKVI. You must notify the Student StartUp team in writing as soon as you receive formal notice of your Start-up visa status from UKVI so we can appoint your supervisor. 

Your supervisor will arrange an initial meeting with the you and then contact you at 6 monthly intervals. You must present your progress and the current status of your business at these meetings. Company accounts and business records will be reviewed. Your supervisor will complete the relevant paperwork after each session. 

Some of these meetings may use Skype but at least two, usually the initial meeting and the 1 year meeting, should be face-to-face. All meetings will be recorded by your supervisor, who will notify the Student StartUp team that the meetings have taken place and will pass on any relevant meetings notes and company records. 

Start-up visa-holders must show evidence of satisfactory progress and show that they are dedicating sufficient time to the development of their business to comply with UKVI’s requirements. If Start-up visa-holders fail to satisfy any of these requirements or to attend monitoring meetings, we are obliged to report non-compliance to UKVI.

All reasonable expenses related to supervisory visits and reports will be covered by the Start-up visa holder, including travel and accommodation costs, and must be paid directly to the University (not staff). 

Contact us
  • Student StartUp Team 
  • studentstartup@port.ac.uk

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