Business>Centre for Entrepreneurship>Tier 1 Start Up Visa

Start Up Visa Applications (Previously Tier 1)


The Start Up Visa (formerly known as the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa) allows international students, graduates and prospective international entrepreneurs to develop and operate a business in the UK. To apply for the visa you will require a letter of endorsement from a participating higher education institution (HEI) or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. 

Cardiff Metropolitan will only endorse individuals who have studied at our home campus in Cardiff. 

Cardiff Metropolitan has been authorised to endorse up to 20 visas annually to businesses that meet the necessary criteria outlined by the Home Office. The University is required to have a system in place to process applications and monitor endorsed businesses. This system is known as the International Entrepreneurs Programme and is overseen by the Centre for Entrepreneurship in conjunction with International Office at Cardiff Metropolitan. 

Cardiff Metropolitan has additional criteria for applicants to the Tier 1 Visa beyond those set out by the Home Office. Please see the ‘Who can apply section’ for further details. 

Eligible businesses should…

Be an innovative and scalable business idea that demonstrates entrepreneurial skill and viability
Demonstrate why the business needs to be based in the UK and how the business will contribute to the UK economy.
Not be a routine business that merely competes with local traders. Consultancies for example are unlikely to be accepted.
Have the potential to reach entry requirements for the Innovator Visa after 2 years.  

This might seem daunting, particularly if you have no formal business training. However, if you have an idea we would encourage you visit the Centre for Entrepreneurship for support in developing your idea and discussing your different options. 

How long can you stay?

A Start up visa is initially granted for 2 years and businesses are expected to transition into the main Innovator Visa route. At which point the business must seek and a new endorsement from an endorsing body in the Innovator Visa route. 

Who can apply? 

Please read this section carefully 
Students who are in their final year of either a Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree from Cardiff Metropolitan University, current students will be required to provide an academic reference which confirms that their studies are on track and indicating a likely final classification. 
Graduates who have been awarded a Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree from Cardiff Metropolitan University
Post-Doctoral researchers employed by Cardiff Metropolitan on a Tier 2 Visa. 

Cardiff Metropolitan’s requirements for endorsement 

You are required to maintain contact with the University who will monitor that you are making satisfactory progress. This is done through the Centre for Entrepreneurship in conjunction with International Office at Cardiff Metropolitan. 

Your business will need to be based in Cardiff for the first 6 months of your Visa and attend mandatory business training sessions as part of the International Entrepreneurs Programme (IEP). The programme runs for 3 days per week.  After this period you are required to meet with the University on a quarterly basis for a further 6 months, then every 6 months for the following year. 

You cannot start trading within the UK until your application has been made. A Tier 4 visa does not grant you permission to work as a self employed person. 

There are no restrictions for working with a UK employer but you will be expected to spend the majority of your time working on your business. This is a condition of the Visa. 

Cardiff Metropolitan is required to report any breach of conditions or if you fail to make contact to UK Visas & Immigrations.

How much does it cost?

There are three categories relating to costs;

Visa application fees, payable to the Home Office; The application cost is £363 if from outside the UK and £493 if switching from within the UK and the same for dependants. 
Maintenance, If you are applying outside of the UK, you need to demonstrate you have at least £1,890. If you are applying in the UK you must show that you hold at least £945 for 90 consecutive days, ending not more than 31 days before the date of application
Business funding; when preparing your business proposal you will need to demonstrate a realistic funding model to sustain you and your business. You may be asked to provide evidence of this at the interview stage. 

Application Process 

1. Preparation: Attend workshops or drop in sessions regarding the Tier 1 process, these are bookable via MetHub.  Prepare your application and supporting documents. We strongly advise you meet with the entrepreneurship team  before submitting your application. 

2. Application Submission: Complete the International Entrepreneurs Programme application form. Please check the schedule to see which deadline and corresponding interview date is most suited to your application.

3. Shortlisting assessment: The entrepreneurship team will assess your application using the marking criteria outlined in the application form. Applications meeting the essential criteria will be shortlisted for interview. If your application is successful you will receive confirmation by telephone and email. 

4. Interview: Your interview will take place on the published date.

5. Endorsement Letter: If you are successful at the interview stage. We will send your endorsement letter directly to the Cardiff Met Global Engagement Team within 10 working days. This letter is valid for 90 days. 

6. The Global Engagement team will contact you to make an appointment to assist with the application process.

7.      Once a visa declaration is signed the GE team will issue the endorsement letter and assist you with submitting your visa application to UKVI.

8.      The GE team will inform you of the outcome of your application.

9.       The Centre for Entrepreneurship will monitor your compliance with the visa on a quarterly basis and maintain a progress file.


- You submit your application by the 17th June deadline for summer applications. 
- You are shortlisted for the interview date on 24th June
- Your endorsement letter is sent within 10 working days (8th July) this is valid for 3 months.  

Additional points 

There are several interview dates scheduled throughout the year. If your application is successful, you will receive your endorsement letter no later than 10 working days after your interview date. You should take into account when your Visa expires and allow adequate time to complete your application. Cardiff Metropolitan does not assume responsibility for your visa application. 

  • Dates for submissions are as follows;
  • Submission deadline for Summer applications- 17th June
  • Submission deadline for Autumn applications - 4th September
  • Submission deadline for Winter applications - 10th December