Innovation & Enterprise


Get a Start-up visa

Set up and grow your business venture with sponsorship for a Start-up visa and extensive expert support.

Every year we work with the Home Office to sponsor recent UCL graduates for a Start-up visa.

The Start-up visa category is for early-stage, high potential entrepreneurs who are starting a business in the UK for the first time.

It offers a one-off, two-year visa, during which applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses. Successful applicants can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK. Applicants do not need to have secured any investment funds in their business at this stage.

Make sure you’re eligible

You can apply while in the UK or outside the UK.

To be eligible for sponsorship you must:

  • be a recent graduate (up to 12 months after your graduation date) - we'll require a copy of the letter of completion
  • be a leading entrepreneur - for individual applicants you'll need to have over 51% of shares in the future company, or if applying as a part of a team (maximum of 2 members) have 50% of shares each in the future company
  • attend an information session prior to submitting your application
  • spend the majority of your time developing your business idea

Additionally, your future business must be based in London.

You can't apply if you have previously established a business in the UK.

Immigration requirements

To be eligible for this scheme, you'll also need to meet the visa requirements.

Switching into the Start-up category is only allowed if you have, or were last granted, leave as a:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant (who has not yet been granted two years’ leave in the category)
  • Tier 2 migrant
  • Tier 4 (General) student
  • visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur (please refer to the Home Office guidelines) 

Please see the UCL immigration and visas webpage for information on the application requirements. 

How to apply for sponsorship

If you’re interested in applying for sponsorship your next steps are to:

  1. attend one of our information sessions, see dates below
  2. download, read and fill in our Start-up visa application form 
  3. gather the requested documents 
  4. email your form and documents to entrepreneurship@ucl.ac.uk and include 'Start-up visa application' in the subject line

If you're shortlisted, you'll be invited to present your business idea in front of a panel. The panel’s decision is final and will be communicated within 48 hours after the presentation.

If you're successful, you'll be issued a copy of the UCL endorsement letter (valid for three months only), which will be part of your application for the Start-up visa to the Home Office.

If you want to book a one-to-one meeting with a business adviser to discuss your business idea, please email entrepreneurship@ucl.ac.uk 

Dates for your diary

Book your place on one of the next information sessions: 

The next deadline for applying for sponsorship is Monday, 1 July 2019.

UCL Innovation & Enterprise takes no responsibility for your Start-up visa application to the Home Office.

Case study

Sisi Lin, founder of Sishu, with her students
Sishu: UCL graduate uses psychoanalysis to transform Chinese language learning

After becoming the most popular teacher in a Chinese school Sisi Lin transformed her unique teaching methodology into a one-of-a-kind business.