Startup Visa

Are you an international student looking to launch a business in the UK after you graduate?

Important notice: the Home Office is, as of April 2023, ending the Start Up Visa route.

The Start-up visa is aimed at recent graduates and alumni who have successfully completed a UK degree programme and want to develop their ideas and entrepreneurial skills by creating an innovative, viable and scalable business in the UK.


City, University of London is authorised to endorse selected recent City graduates for a Start-up visa allowing them to start a business and remain in the UK.

The Start-up visa at City is aimed at early-stage ventures from high potential entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the UK for the first time. This visa offers a one off, two-year visa permit, during which applicants will be able to develop and register their businesses in the UK. In order to be granted this visa recent graduates and alumni need to apply for an endorsement from City, University of London.

The application process assesses the business idea and ensures that it meets the Home Office criteria, that it is a genuine and credible business that meets the entrepreneurial principles of innovation, viability and scalability.

The process also assesses how rigorous, realistic and viable each business plan is but also evaluates why the business needs to be established in the UK and how the business will contribute to the UK economy.

Information regarding 2022/2023 applications will be available around June 2023.

Who Can Apply?

To be eligible to apply, you must meet the eligibility criteria as set by the Home Office, be a recent graduate of an undergraduate or postgraduate course at City and have completed your course within one of the following academic years: 2021/22 academic year, 2020/21 academic year or 2019/20 academic.

City students that are currently in their final year of an undergraduate or postgraduate course and graduating in the 2022/23 academic year will need to apply for the subsequent allocation of Start-up visa endorsements. Further information is usually available in June, with applications opening in June, July, August.

Please note:

  • Any students, recent graduates or alumni issued a Start-up visa endorsement must have applied for and started the visa application before the 31st January 2023
  • Any students, recent graduates or alumni who failed to apply for the visa by the above date will no longer be eligible for a new endorsement from the University and cannot reapply
  • The University will offer visa endorsements to a maximum of two City founders per business.

Who Can’t Apply?

  • Students from other Higher Education institutions other than City, University of London
  • Students who have previously applied and not been successful
  • Students who graduated in or before the 2018/19 academic year.

Application process

If you are interested in applying it is recommended that you give your idea a test run, participate in the events organised by the CityVentures team (Startup Fest, Startup Seminars, CitySpark, etc). These events are designed to help you perfect your idea throughout the academic year and strengthen your application when the Start-up visa application process is open.

Before you start your application and so you can familiarise yourself with the first stage of the process, we advise that you check an example of a good application here. Also, please ensure that you read the detailed Terms & Conditions here.

Additionally, we would strongly recommend that you get in contact with a member of our team to talk through your business idea to see if we can help you develop it. You can book a start-up surgery with a member of the team here or simply email us on

For further information, join the CityVentures mailing list here and read our e-booklets here and here, designed to help you with all things entrepreneurial.


Written application stage

We want you to demonstrate, in writing, that you have made as much progress as possible with your business idea (under your current visa).

As such, we want you to demonstrate – with tangible examples – idea validation, value proposition, market research and segmentation, business plan, marketing and financial strategy, etc. If you are unsure about any of these terms please refer to one of the e-books mentioned above.

Previously successful applicants have shown examples of traction by identifying a clear product / service / market fit in which their business venture met early adopters, gathered feedback and gauged interest by getting that first wave of users to validate their idea.

Other examples of traction include completing an early-stage marketing campaigns (newsletters, events, signups), generating web traffic (active and registered users), coordinating surveys and events, creating an MVP or prototypes, engaging with potential customers and partnering with other services and products.

Your application should make clear how your business is:

  • Innovative – a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viable – you have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business described above
  • Scalable – structured planning, potential for job creation and growth.

All applications will be reviewed by the CityVentures team and successful applicants will be invited to the next stage which will include a pitch and interview.

Pitch and interview stage

Shortlisted applications will be invited to pitch and discuss their business idea in front of a panel (panel includes a selection of academic staff and / or external associates with a background in entrepreneurship). The panel will also confirm the pitch and interview format – in person or online – with further details to be available to shortlisted applicants.

Subsequently, the panel will deliberate which businesses will be endorsed by the university.

Please note:

  • Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted
  • Decisions on each stage are final and cannot be appealed
  • All successful endorsements from City, University of London will additionally need the approval and endorsement from the Home Office to receive the Start-up visa
  • Please read the full terms and conditions of the programme prior to applying.

Application Timeline



13th June

Written application stage opens – the application form is available here.

13th July,

1pm UK time

Deadline – Written application stage closes.

13th – 15th July

Internal review.

15h July

Notification of outcomes, strongest applications progressed to the next stage.

19th – 21st July

Pitch and interview stage.

22nd July

Notification of outcomes, successful applications will be endorsed by the University; final year students will need to be awarded their degrees before they can be endorsed.


After being endorsed

  • Each Start-up visa is granted for a maximum of two consecutive years and provided there is satisfactory progress on the business
  • Each Start-up visa is granted on the basis of your business idea and your business as specified on the application form
  • You are required to apply for the visa and start the visa application before the 31st of January 2023
  • If applying from outside of the UK you are required to arrive in the UK within one month of having been granted the visa and make contact with the CityVentures team to confirm your arrival and provide a copy of your passport and visa
  • You will be assessed by the University at agreed upon contact points during the period of your endorsement and provide quarterly progress reports
  • There is no restriction on the location of your business however you should be primarily based, establish, develop and operate in the UK
  • There are no restrictions on the number of hours that you may work (for another employer) however your main focus should be your business – this will be evaluated as part of the application and monitoring process i.e. progress on your business idea must be demonstrated with evidence
  • You must update the CityVentures Team and Visa Compliance team if you change your name, change contact details, obtain a new passport, leave the UK for an extended period of time (no longer than 6 weeks) or switch into a different visa route.

Failure to meet the above requirements will lead to your endorsement being withdrawn and your visa being cancelled.

More from CityVentures

Join our mailing list

Is it worth getting our CityVentures newsletter? Of course!

What's on

Learn how to start a business and do it yourself!

Startup advice

Book yourself a startup appointment with a member of the team!