The first University of Kent graduates have been endorsed to start a business in the UK under the Start-Up Visa route.
ASPIRE and the Student Immigration Compliance Team have been working together to launch the Start-Up scheme which could see up to 20 Kent graduates, who are or had been studying in the UK under a Tier 4 Visa, apply annually. The Start-Up Visa is for early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the UK for the first time.
The first former student to successfully apply for a Start-Up Visa from Kent is MBA alumnus, Khawar Naveed Bhatti. Naveed, in collaboration with Kent alumna Natalie Aguilar, a Computer Science MSc, has founded Canterbury-based GenSpec Ltd which provides business and technical advisory services.
GenSpec Ltd aims to help local businesses with their services while also providing a platform for them to market their products to Canterbury’s residents and visitors, in a bid to grow sales which in turn would contribute to economic growth for Canterbury as a whole.
Naveed said that the support from ASPIRE made it very easy to make the Start-Up Visa application. He added that “Adam & Rebecca were always available for meetings and guiding us towards building a business plan that fits the Home Office criteria for the Start-Up Visa. We had a formal meeting including Dora from the Student Immigration & Compliance team where we presented our business plan.”
Other Kent graduates have also been endorsed by the university and are awaiting confirmation of their visa application. Applicants must demonstrate that their business meets three criteria – innovation, viability and scalability; among other requirements.
The Start-Up Visa offers a one-off, two-year visa and at the end of two years, successful applicants can apply to switch into the Innovator category to extend their stay and develop their businesses in the UK. The University of Kent only offers endorsements for the Start-Up route.
Currently, applications are only being considered from current Kent students and Kent alumni who have successfully completed and been awarded a degree from the University of Kent within two years before the date of application.
A panel, comprising ASPIRE and Student Immigration Compliance Team representatives, meets twice yearly to consider applications.