Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Initiative

UCL is a sponsor for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa initiative and has a total of 20 sponsored visas to offer to qualifying graduates each year.

Do you have a great idea for a business, and want to try to make it happen? Do you need sponsorship for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa? UCL Advances can help.

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa enables international graduates who have a viable business idea to extend their stay in the UK in order to start up their business.


You need to:

  • have a genuine and credible business idea that you wish to develop as a start-up business
  • be a graduate of  UCL (UCL does not sponsor students from other universities)
  • have a current student or Tier 4 visa
  • have a letter of endorsement from UCL
  • have £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK - this is to prove you can support yourself, and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply

Application Process

UCL’s selection process is as follows:

  • Arrange an initial meeting with a UCL Advances Student Business Advisor who will assess whether your business idea is genuine and credible (the sooner you apply the better, because you may need several meetings with an Advisor before your idea is sufficiently well developed to be eligible)
  • You will need to prepare a business plan. Your Advisor can help you with this.
  • When your Advisor thinks your plan is credible and viable, you will be invited to present to three assessors (your sponsoring Student Business Advisor and two other senior UCL staff members).

Your presentation will be judged on the following criteria:

The presentation Have you (and your team, if you have one) expressed your ideas and pitched in a clear and compelling way?
Market strategy Have you shown a clear and accurate understanding of the target market? Does the ‘go-to-market’ strategy reflect this understanding?
Feasibility Has the concept been validated convincingly?
Financial model Does the financial and commercial model show potential to receive investment (can it be profitable and scalable? Is the size of the market big enough?)
Team Is the team made up of highly talented individuals that can make this plan happen (if you are a sole founder, what skills are you missing and how will you get them?) Do the team’s skills appear well-balanced and complementary?
UK impact Is this team likely to have a lasting, positive impact on the UK?

Successful applicants will be sponsored by UCL for a 12 month visa, and the opportunity to apply for a second 12 month visa if the business is making progress. You will be supervised and monitored during this period by your Advisor, and must maintain regular contact with him/her (and meet at least quarterly).

You will be expected to spend most of your time setting up the business, but will be able to work outside the business in order to support yourself financially if necessary.

Time spent on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa will not count towards settlement in the UK. Please check the UK Government website for more information.

To apply, or If you would like to know more, please contact one of our Student Business Advisors: email: sba@ucl.ac.uk.