For students

Visas for founders

There are two visa categories for international entrepreneurs wishing to set up a business in the UK - Start-up and Innovator visa.

To apply for a Start-up or Innovator visa, you must be endorsed by an authorised body.  Edinburgh Innovations is an authorised body and may be able to endorse your application if you have a close, demonstrable relationship with the University of Edinburgh. 

Start-up visa

The Start-up visa category is aimed at new, high potential, ambitious entrepreneurs who are starting their first UK business.

Applicants do not require any initial funds to invest in their business and must not have started a business in the UK prior to application.Learn more about the Start-up visa and how to apply for endorsement.

Innovator visa

The Innovator visa is aimed at more experienced business people who are looking to establish a business in the UK.

Applicants must have a minimum of £50,000 in funds available for investment in their business. Learn more about the Innovator Visa and how to apply for endorsement.


Start-up visa and Innovator visa comparison 

Start-up visa 

Innovator visa 

For aspiring entrepreneurs, students and recent graduates.  For more established entrepreneurs, including those looking to switch from a Startup visa. 
No investment required  Investment of £50,000 (if you have been endorsed for your business previously, the investment may not be required) 
Validity 2 years  Validity 3 years 
Cannot be extended. Can switch to another visa, e.g. Innovator Visa  Can be extended any number of times, each time for three years 
Designed to help you set up and develop new business  Designed to help both new and existing businesses 
Entrepreneurial team can be formed with each partner having their idea endorsed  Entrepreneurial team can be formed with each partner contributing £50,000

Graduate Route Visa 

The Graduate Route Visa is available to international students who have been awarded a degree at undergraduate level or above. It allows you to stay in the UK for two years (extended to three years for PhD or doctorate level graduates). This visa allows self-employment but cannot be extended and does not lead to settlement. If you are considering a Graduate Route Visa, please note that the present rules would not allow someone who sets up a business and starts trading on the Graduate route to switch to the Start-up route. 


Find out more about these visas by emailing: