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The University of Southampton
Careers, Employability and Student Enterprise

Startup Visa Endorsement

Startup Visa Endorsement

The University of Southampton is a Startup Visa endorsing institution. The University will only consider endorsing applicants who are either international graduates or current international students of the University of Southampton.

The University of Southampton has been granted a limited number of endorsements by the Home Office under the Startup Visa. There is a rigorous endorsement selection process. If successful, candidates can then apply to the Home Office for the Visa using this endorsement.

This allows international graduates from the University of Southampton, who have a viable, innovative and scalable business idea, to be supported to develop a business in the UK in conjunction with the University.


Is your business idea a genuine, original idea that is different from any other business in the market? Does it meet new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage? You cannot join an already trading business and you must have not previously established a business in the UK.


Do you have, or are you actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to run the business successfully? You must prove that your business idea is realistic and achievable based on your credibility and the resources available to you.


Does your idea have potential for growth, and could it be successfully scaled up to be part of national and international markets? You must have evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth.

For more information you should read through the full Home Office guidance on the Startup Visa.

The University runs 2 application rounds for the Startup Visa endorsement each year. Further information on the application rounds for semester 2 will be available in due course.

Book a 1:1

We recommend that all prospective applicants speak to a member of the team about their idea to discuss eligibility for the Startup Visa

  • The opportunity to be endorsed by the University of Southampton for a Startup Visa in the UK. If successful in gaining endorsement, the Startup Visa will last for a 2 year period. Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn.
  • The support of the University of Southampton, to develop your business – including mentoring expertise.
  • A route to the Innovator Visa, subject to an approved funding source being secured.
  • The opportunity to work up to 20 hours per week outside the business in order to support yourself financially.
  • You must comply with the UK Government’s Visas and Immigration Startup Visa regulations – including regular communication with the University and informing them of all changes in your circumstances through the Start-Up Visa period. Failure to comply will result in withdrawal of your endorsement.

Please note your visa approval will also be subject to a successful visa application to UK Visas & Immigration and compliance with their other requirements.

If you have already been awarded a UK recognised bachelor's degree, master's degree or PhD from the University of Southampton then you do not need to have completed your current programme of study before submitting your application. If your application is successful, we can choose to endorse you straight away.

Applicants can be either in/outside the UK at the time of application but please note that we are unable to support anyone who is not either a graduate or a current student of the University of Southampton.

To apply for Startup Visa immigration permission, you need a Letter of Endorsement from the University of Southampton. To apply for this letter, you must pass a rigorous Endorsement Selection Scheme run twice annually by the University. We will use this selection process to identify viable business ideas which also comply with the eligibility criteria set by the Home Office. There are two parts to the selection scheme:

1. A written application, along with a 1 minute video pitch

2. An interview panel

Applicants will need to provide evidence that they have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea, and that they will spend the majority of their working time on developing the business.

  • You must read the government guidance before applying for endorsement as candidates are responsible for adhering to all Startup Visa regulations.
  • Your must comply with the UK government’s Start-Up Visa regulations – including regular communication with the University.

Please note your visa will also be subject to a successful visa application to UK Visas & Immigration and compliance with their other requirements.

Please note that if you are currently on a Student Visa** then you will need to be mindful of the limitations imposed with relation to any business startup activity:

Students on a Student Visa** CAN do the following, as this is not considered to be engaging in business activity:
  • Carrying out preliminary activities such as writing business plans or negotiating contracts
  • Incurring pre-trading costs with a view to deciding whether to start their businesses
Students on a Student visa** CANNOT do the following, as this is considered to be engaging in business activity:
  • Registering with HM Revenue & Customs as self-employed
  • Working for companies in which they are controlling shareholders
  • Working for companies in statutory roles, such as director
  • Trading or establishing a trading presence (including test marketing)

*As per Government Guidance published March 2020.

**Note: The term 'Student Visa' refers to both the Tier 4 (General) Visa and also the new Student Visa, which has replaced the Tier 4 (general) visa on Monday 5 October 2020.

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