Start-up Visa

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If you are an overseas graduate or student approaching the end of your degree, you may be eligible to access the Start-up Visa (Tier 1) scheme, allowing you to start a business in the UK after graduation.

We get asked a lot of questions about this opportunity.  We will cover the main ones on this page, but please read our FAQs document for full details.

[Please note, the Start-up Visa replaces the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa from 5th April 2019.]

Why does Lancaster offer this scheme?

The University provides innovation and entrepreneurial learning opportunities that complement students’ degree education and equip them to develop new sustainable solutions that respond to commercial opportunities and tackle to social and environmental challenges. Lancaster University recognises the value our graduate entrepreneurs can add to the regional and national economy and to society through these ventures and the GE Visa scheme ensures that our international graduates have the same opportunities to do so as their UK and EU peers.

Am I eligible to apply?

If you are interested in starting a business in the UK and are:

  • A current holder of a General Study Visa (Tier 4) and you will graduate during this academic year OR
  • A former holder of a General Study Visa (Tier 4) and you graduated within the last 12 months AND
  • Have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that reflects the value added by your education at Lancaster and furthers our institutional strategic aims

you are probably eligible to apply.

Can’t I start a business as a student anyway?

There are very clear guidelines around what you can and can’t do as a Tier 4 visa holder that were explained to you when yours was issued.  These expressly prohibit you from registering as self-employed, registering a company, or undertaking business activity.  If you are in any doubt whatsoever, please contact the Enterprise Team and we will help you to get clarification.

How do I apply?

You must first complete an Initial Application which will be assessed by Lancaster University Visa & Immigration Team and Enterprise Team.  If you are successful in this process, you will be invited to submit a business plan document for assessment by an independent panel.  If you are successful in this process, you will be provided with a Letter of Endorsement that enables you to apply directly to the Home Office.

What support can I access to prepare my initial application?

It’s important that the initial application provides us with a realistic snapshot of your idea and your ability to deliver it at this point.  As you attempt to complete it and find that you have gaps in your ability to answer the questions, it may indicate that this opportunity is not right for you at this time.  If in doubt, please come and visit us at Work in Progress so we can explore what development opportunities are available for you in these areas.

What support can I access to produce my business plan document?

If you are invited to proceed to this stage, you will be provided with further guidance and package of business planning support via the Enterprise Team at Work in Progress.  This will include business model validation, business registration advice, and financial model validation.

I’m not a Lancaster graduate, can you endorse me?

We are not currently inviting applications from other institutions, although applications may be considered where there is a clear strategic case for endorsing an unaffiliated applicant; e.g. the business would be based in Lancashire and/or contribute to the University’s research impact agenda

I’m from Turkey; do I have to go through the GE Visa scheme to start a business in the UK?

Possibly not.  Please check out the Turkish Business Person scheme to see if you are eligible for that first.

OK, I’ve read the FAQs.  Now what?

Please complete the Initial Application Form here.