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Start-up Visa scheme

You can increase the chances of success in setting up your own business venture in the UK with the sponsorship of a Start-up Visa and expert business advice at Ravensbourne University London.

As an endorsing body Ravensbourne will be able to sponsor current students and alumni interested in setting up their first creative business in the UK, enabling them to apply for a Start-up Visa.

Graduates can only apply once for the Start-up Visa. If successful, they can then bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18) to the UK. At this stage, applicants do not need to have secured any investment funds for their business.

Under the start-up visa scheme successful applicants may also work part time. However, you will be expected to invest the majority of your time developing your businesses for a maximum period of two years under this scheme.

If you have previously established a business in the UK which has commenced trading, you cannot apply for the Start-up Visa unless your last grant of leave was as: a Start-up migrant, a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant or a Tier 4 (General) student on the doctor extension scheme.

Who is eligible?

You can apply for the Start-up visa while already in the UK, or from outside the UK while in your home country if you have studied at Ravensbourne. Your start-up business idea must be located in London.


 In order to be eligible for endorsement by Ravensbourne you must satisfy the following criteria:


  •  You must have graduated from Ravensbourne in the last two years (you must provide a copy of your degree certificate or letter confirming degree completion)
  •  You must be the leading entrepreneur of the business idea
  •  You must hold a minimum of 51% of shares and ownership in the future company, if applicable
  •  On initial approval of your business idea submitted, you may be required to attend one to one sessions with a business adviser
  •  Once your proposition is signed off by the business adviser, you will be required to attend a panel of experts for the final decision
  •  If successful, you will receive an endorsement letter and endorsement code from Ravensbourne which you will need in order to apply for your Start-up Visa
  •  Your main purpose and time in the UK should be to develop your new business idea
  •  If you have previously established a business in the UK, you cannot apply for the Start-up Visa.

Immigration requirements

You will also have to meet the visa requirements as set by the Home Office/UKVI. 

You can only switch into the start-up category if you have, or were last granted, leave in the UK 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's been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur (please refer to the Home Office guidelines).

You can find more information about this on the Home Office website and the UKCISA website. 

Business plan criteria

Your business plan will be assessed against the following criteria:


  • Innovation – you have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viability – you have, or are actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run your business
  • Scalability – you can evidence structured planning and potential for job creation and growth into national markets

How to apply

Follow the steps below if you are interested in applying for endorsement:

1) Attend our information session on Wednesday 19 June at 10.30am - 11.30am in Room 104

2) Fill in the Google form with your business plan attached– (you'll need your Ravensbourne student login)

3) Attach the documents listed below to your Google Form submission:

  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of current or previous visa
  • Student registration number and date of completion of your qualification
  • Copy of a university qualification
  • Copy of your business plan

If you're shortlisted, you'll be invited to present your business idea to a panel of industry experts. The panel members will make the final decision, and you'll find out if you're successful within two working days of your presentation.

If successful, we will issue you a copy of the Ravensbourne endorsement letter with your sponsorship number from the date of issue (valid for three months only), which will be part of your application for the Start-up Visa to the Home Office.

As part of the Start-up scheme you are required to have contact with Ravensbourne University London. Ravensbourne is required to check on the progress of your business development. You will also be expected to adhere to the conditions set by the Ravensbourne and UKVI. Ravensbourne is required to inform UKVI if you fail to keep in contact or learn that you have breached the conditions of your visa.

Please note that we only have limited number of endorsements available at this time so please submit your application as early as possible.

Important dates and application timeline

  • Open for application: Monday 1 June 2020
  • Information session: Thursday 18 June 2020, 10.30-11.30am
  • Closing date: Friday 26 June 2020
  • Panel of expert meet: week Monday 13 July 2020
  • Decision date: Friday 17 July 2020
  • Ravensbourne endorsement letter issued: week beginning Monday 27 July 2020

Contact: s.bhuwanee@rave.ac.uk or Ha.smith@rave.ac.uk

Please note: Ravensbourne University London takes no responsibility for your Start-up Visa application to the Home Office.

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