Innovation & Enterprise


Get support to apply for an Innovator Founder visa

If you want to stay in the UK after your studies to start a business, we can help you get endorsed for an Innovator Founder visa.

Which visa is right for you?

Innovator Founder visa

The Innovator Founder visa is for people who have business experience and are seeking to establish a business in the UK.

With an Innovator Founder visa you can:

  • stay in the UK for 3 years, after which you can apply to extend your stay for a further 3 years or apply to settle permanently in the UK
  • bring your family with you to the UK
  • set up a business or several businesses
  • work for your business
  • do work outside your business, as long as it’s ‘skilled work’

To apply for an Innovator Founder visa (and for an extension or settlement) you’ll need to be endorsed by an official endorsing body.

Find out more about the Innovator Founder visa on the GOV.UK website or attend one of our information sessions.

Graduate visa

The Graduate visa allows students with a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa to stay in the UK for 2 years after their degree. 

With a Graduate visa:

  • you can stay in the UK for 2 years after completing your degree (3 years if you have a doctoral qualification)
  • your family can apply to stay too, if they were ‘dependents’ on your current student visa
  • you may work, start a business or be self-employed

You must be in the UK when you apply, but you don’t need endorsement from UCL or another organisation to apply.

Find out more about the Graduate visa on the GOV.UK website.

Whichever visa you have, we offer a range of support for UCL graduates to help you turn your idea into a successful business.

Applying for an Innovator Founder visa

You can apply at any time for an Innovator Founder visa, but you’ll need endorsement from an official endorsing body before you can apply.

The endorsing body will assess that your business meets the required criteria. You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • new - you cannot join a business that is already trading
  • innovative - you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable - your business must generate revenue over a sustained period of time
  • scalable - you must give evidence of planning that includes creating jobs and growing into national and international markets

Support with your application and beyond

Our entrepreneurship team can help you prepare your application for endorsement for an Innovator Founder visa, and support you in building your business.

Information sessions

Find out more about the Innovator Founder visa by coming to one of our information sessions. These free sessions are open to current UCL students and alumni.

Find out more and book for the following dates:

One-to-one support

Request a meeting with one of our entrepreneurship advisors to discuss your business idea and whether it meets the eligibility criteria for endorsement. They’ll be able to advise you on what steps you need to take to develop your business idea and how to prepare your application for endorsement.

Current UCL students and recent graduates (within 3 years of completing their studies) can request a meeting with an advisor by filling in the form on our online portal

Support after you have your visa

Once you have an Innovator Founder visa, you may be eligible for our Hatchery incubator programme. This gives you access to desks and meeting rooms, business training, and expert advice to help you build your business.

Discuss this option with your entrepreneurship advisor for more details.