The University of Oxford endorses applicants whose business proposals demonstrate innovation, viability, and scalability. The endorsement process is run by the Careers Service. It is separate from the visa application, which is the second stage of the process and is administered by the Student Immigration team.
Successful endorsement applicants can apply for a visa for two years to develop their business idea. Proof of satisfactory progression within the business is required to keep an endorsement. Additional employment is allowed to supplement income whilst the business is in development. The applicant’s dependent partner and any children can also apply to come to or remain in the UK.
The University of Oxford Careers Service invites all those who wish to stay in the UK to develop their business ideas and who meet the eligibility criteria, to apply for University endorsement. We are keen to support entrepreneurial activity at all levels, from any discipline, and with any sort of business idea. Previously endorsed businesses include:
- Social enterprises and not-for-profits
- Technology start-ups
- Funding generation and investment organisations
- Digital education tools
- Energy research
Applications for endorsement are invited four times a year. For dates of the current call for applications, please see our News section, or email us on email@example.com
Who is eligible?
- Applicants must meet one of the following requirements:
- Have received, or will receive, their degree from the University of Oxford.
- Are working at Oxford as a postgraduate with a Tier 2 visa.
- Are working at the University as research staff.
- Be referred for endorsement by an Oxford University programme or entity.
- They must also:
- have a business plan that demonstrates innovation, viability, and scalability.
- not have previously established a business in the UK
- fulfil an English language requirement (automatically qualified by completing a degree taught in English at Oxford or another UK university; applicants who have not completed a degree taught in English will need to provide other formal proof)
Information for existing visa holders
Be aware that Tier 4 and Tier 2 visa conditions do not allow holders of said visas to be self employed or engage in business. Be careful whilst working on any business idea for a Start-up visa endorsement application to avoid breaching the conditions of an existing visa.
How to apply
Applicants must apply by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Endorsement is a competitive process and applicants will be required to show evidence that they have a innovative, scalable and viable idea. Before submitting an application each applicant should plan to attend the information session or, if they are unable to attend, contact email@example.com to discuss their application.
For more, see the details we shared in our Information session presentation (pptx).
Basic Criteria and Business Plan
You can download the application template. Please pay attention to the maximum number of pages allowed for each part, any pages in excess of these limits will not be reviewed. Your CV should also be attached and all three parts should be submitted as a single PDF.
A termly call for applications will be announced on our News page. All applications should be submitted as a single PDF by email.
If we receive too many applications for one round, we may ask those applicants whose current visas are not in danger of expiring to resubmit for the following round of applications.
What should you bear in mind when making an application?
When writing your application, it is worth bearing in mind that the panel will be looking for evidence that you have an innovative, viable, and scalable business idea, specifically:
- Innovative: a genuinely new idea, perhaps based on a combination of existing technology and a new market. For example, proposing to expand an existing business currently based in another country into an established UK market would not meet this criterion.
- Viable: how sustainable is the business? Will it rely purely on the goodwill of your friends, or will your funding be crowdsourced? How will it reach the relevant financial thresholds within 2 years so that you can transition to another visa?
- Scalable: attractive business ideas will employ people (and pay taxes!). Proposals for single person tutoring businesses are not necessarily scalable and would be rejected.
The panel will also want to understand why your business will benefit from being based in the UK and the potential reward for local and/or national economy to having said business based here. Some of the criteria the panel look for in an application include those listed below. It is beneficial to provide evidence you meet as many of these as possible.
- Minimum UK Home Office criteria to apply for Start- up visa
- Personal commitment to the business
- Support from the university and elsewhere
- Previous relevant experience
- Innovative, viable, and scalable idea
- Ownership, or co-ownership, of said idea
- Feedback from current or potential users
- Financing - actual and/or promised
- Contracts and/or agreements in place
- Formalising of the business
- Realistic business plan
- Realistic and useful performance measures
If your application is unsuccessful
We aim to provide feedback for each applicant that is invited to attend an interview and all applicants are welcome to apply again.
If you feel that your application was not judged fairly or was assessed using criteria not clearly stated in the guidelines you can request a review of the decision. This review will assess whether the decision was made based on our own published criteria as well as the guidance from the Home Office.
Candidates can submit no more than two applications for endorsement. Any new application must incorporate feedback and/or be materially different from an application submitted previously in order to be considered.
For information on the Start-up visa application process (post endorsement) and eligibility please visit the UKVI website:
If you would like to receive email updates on upcoming deadlines as well as information sessions you can sign up to our Start-up Visa mailing list.