If you want to start your own business, doing so straight after your studies is one of the best times to do so, with fewer responsibilities, strong connections with like-minded alumni and the support of your university behind you. What’s more, starting a business after graduation can be a savvy strategic move, providing a pathway to permanent residency in the UK and, ultimately, citizenship. Read on to discover more.

InvestUK is on hand to help you make sure your business is a success. Get in touch to find out more.


Starting a business allows you to live life on your own terms.

There are a number of generous routes to gaining permanent residency status in the UK, from marriage to investing in UK business but starting your own business post-graduation, we believe, is the most accessible and flexible option for true entrepreneurs as well as those who may not have previously considered this route.

The reason we believe this route is best is because it offers the best opportunity for personal freedom and growth, flexibility and monetary rewards. For example, another route to permanent residency that may be worth considering over the entrepreneurial route would be the Skilled Worker visa route. This route would require you to work in full-time employment after your studies in a “skilled profession”. The flexibility of going the entrepreneurial route is due to the fact that you can work a full-time job alongside starting your business, but you can’t start a business alongside your job on a Skilled Worker visa. For this reason, we advise looking into trying the entrepreneur route first due to this increased freedom and higher earning potential.


Why the best time to start a business is straight after you graduate.

Post-graduation, you are uniquely placed, free from the commitments and responsibilities that come with family life, paying a mortgage and so on. This will give you the capacity to make hard decisions, take risks and ultimately reap the rewards of running your own business, which could have the potential to offer higher monetary returns and feelings of fulfilment than your average office-based graduate role.


As a student and recent graduate you can take advantage of your institution’s entrepreneurship services.

Many UK universities offer enterprise departments or societies that can support you in developing your business idea, mentoring, networking, fundraising and access to other resources, often free of charge. What’s more, many UK universities are authorised by the British government to issue endorsements to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to apply for a Start-up visa. Endorsement is required to apply for a Start-up visa which is something we can help you arrange.


The UK is a leading global business hub making finding mentorship and monetary support for your business a breeze.

With this in mind, something to consider further would be the fact that the UK, and certainly London is one of the worlds largest and most influential business capitals and attracts some of the greatest business minds from all over the world, 2nd only to the US for a number of start-ups, and well ahead of any other country.

Another feather in the UK’s business cap is the fact that we harbour the largest number of venture capital funds in Europe making it easy to get a quick cash injection to get you off the ground.

You can always switch to another visa if your business isn’t working out.

The final reason why we consider starting a business the superior route to gaining UK citizenship, particularly when compared to the Skilled Worker visa route, is because of the relatively low bar to entry and exit and flexibility to switch to another visa whilst maintaining the possibilities of indefinite leave to remain status.

The first step of your journey to UK citizenship via entrepreneurship would be to apply for the Start-up visa, once your business is established, you don’t need to make a huge commitment initially, and you can even hold full-time employment alongside running your business. If your business doesn’t work out, you can simply transition to another visa, such as the Skilled Worker visa or similar and use the skills you’ve learnt from running your business and a strong employment history built up during your time at university or the job you may have held along side running your business to find a role in the world of work.

Starting a business after your studies can be a fast and efficient route to permanent residency.

The final reason why we consider starting a business the superior route to gaining UK citizenship, particularly when compared to the Skilled Worker visa route, is because of the relatively low bar to entry and exit and the flexibility that this visa route offers, as it allows you to work both a full time job and run your business so even if you decide that running a business isn’t for you can simply transfer onto another visa allowing this route to provide great confidence for those who need certainty that they will receive permanent residency status at the end of their time on the visas.

What are the Steps to Permanent Residency via the Start-up route?

If you have a great business idea, or if you are ready to take the entrepreneur life by the horns but don’t know where to start, get in touch to find out more about the benefits of this route to permanent citizenship and how InvestUK can assist you.

Step-1: Securing a place at a UK University: –

If you are already a graduate or about to graduate you can skip to step four of the guide. Admissions to a UK university is relatively straightforward if you meet the grade requirements. Once you are accepted, your university will be able to guide you through all aspects necessary for your travel and comfortable, legal settlement as a student in the UK. Once admission has been granted, you will be ready to join the over half-a-million graduates that come to study in the UK every year, once you’ve obtained your Student visa.

Step-2: Get a Student visa: –

It could be worth looking into whether you are eligible for a Student visa before or simultaneously to applying to your preferred courses and universities. You can find out more about whether you are eligible and the costs associated with the application on the government website for specifics, but general eligibility requirements include providing a passport, photos, the university admit, and your UK address as well as needing to provide a medical certificate that shows you are tuberculosis-free.

Step-3: Work While Studying: –

Although you may plan to start a business and for it to be a success, working internships and part-time jobs during summer holidays and alongside your studies will allow you to build up contacts for references and future employment opportunities if your business doesn’t work out. It is easy for students to find an internship and jobs in the UK given the strength of the UK economy. Doing so will give you an insight into how businesses generally operate and help you decide whether starting a business is the right move for you.

Step-4: Apply for a Start-up visa upon graduation, then, after two years, apply for the Innovator visa.

Taking the leap and applying straight for the Start-up visa after university, especially if you have entrepreneurial ambitions, gets the ball rolling towards your Indefinite Leave to Remain status. It is important to mention that if you don’t complete the three years on the Innovator visa, then the two years on the Start-up visa won’t count towards your five years of residency in the UK that would grant you your indefinite leave to remain status, but at least by going this route you will be able to explore the option of starting a business before committing fully to the world of traditional employment.

Step-5: Apply for Permanent Residency: –

Once you have fulfilled all the previous steps you will be in a position to apply for the Indefinite Leave to Remain visa and secure your residency in the UK – you can find out if you are eligible here and discover where you should live in the UK.

InvestUK is on hand to help you in this journey from conception of your business idea to tailoring your business to meet your needs and the needs of the visa criteria. Get in touch to find out more.

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