Start-up Visa

Information regarding Start-up visa endorsements at Royal Holloway


Outline of the route

The Start-up visa route is designed for students that are looking to create their own businesses in the UK after their studies at Royal Holloway. The route is endorsed by Royal Holloway after a competitive application process and (if your visa application is successful) will be granted for a period of 2 years.

Applications for endorsement under the Start-up visa route will be reviewed by a panel of Royal Holloway staff who will use the UK immigration rules requirements as a basis for their assessment:

1. Innovation - the business plan should be genuine and must look to meet a new market need and/or find a competitive advantage over existing companies

2. Viability - the business plan must be realistic and achieveable and you must demonstrate that you have the requisite skills and knowledge to successfully run the business

3. Scalability - there should be evidence in the business plan that there is a structured future plan that includes the potential of job creation and growth into national markets

If your application with Royal Holloway is successful and you are selected to be endorsed, we will issue you with an endorsement letter that you will use as part of your visa application. The ISSO team can support you with this.

Application process & details

 You will need to submit details of your business proposal and business plan to the College so it can be reviewed both by the Enterprise Hub an the Start-up visa panels. Applications for Royal Holloway endorsement under the Start-up visa route are made online (see below).


Apply for endorsement

Apply for endorsement under the Start-up visa route by completing this form here. 

Please note that the application form is very in-depth and requests a lot of information. It may be your only opportunity to share details of your business proposal with the panel, so do take your time and provide as much relevant information as you can.



The deadlines for applications vary depending on your programe of study:

Undergraduate students - deadline for business plan submissions: 6 August 2021

Decision panels will be held throughout early-mid August 2021 with decisions released mid-late August 2021

Postgraduate Taught students - deadline for business plan submissions: 12 November 2021

Decision panels will be held throughout mid-late November 2021 with decisions released late November 2021 

Visa requirements

Once your endorsement letter has been received you will be able to start applying for the Start-up visa. The requirements for the route are:

Qualification & English language

As a Royal Holloway graduate you will have met these two conditions by virtue of having studied at degree level or above.


If you are applying in the UK, and you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more with valid permission, you will not need to demonstrate any maintenance funds for the application.

If this does not apply to you, you must show that you have held £1,270 in an account for 28 consecutive days prior to the date of application. 

Business activity & setting up a business

You MUST NOT have already set up the business (i.e. be a registered director, registered with HMRC, be a shareholder etc.). The College may conduct checks to ensure that you have not breached the terms of your Tier 4/Student visa in advance of issuing you an endorsement letter for the Start-up visa. Please note that if any breach is found, your current visa may also be at risk of compliance action being taken upon it. 

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact us immediately.

 Frequently asked questions

Does my business idea need to be related to my degree?

Not necessarily, however as part of the application process you will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the field you are proposing to set up the business in. More often than not this means students do look to start businesses in their field of academic expertise, but this is not always the case. 

I am not a recent graduate of Royal Holloway, can I still apply?

We may be able to endorse you even if you left the College more than a year ago. We look at this on a case-by-case basis so do please get in touch before applying if you would like some advice.

Can I apply as part of a team (i.e. with another student)?

Yes, however do bear in mind that we will only endorse Royal Holloway students/graduates. If your potential business partner is from another institution they will need to find endorsements elsewhere.

Do I require any investment to qualify?

No, investment is not required for the Start-up visa route.

The Innovator route, which is the natural progression from the Start-up route, does require investment of £50,000 however. If you would like further information about the Innovator route please do get in touch.