International students: starting a business in the UK


Are you an international student, dreaming of starting your own business in the UK after graduation? Before you start writing your business plan, it’s essential to acquaint yourself with what your rights are, as there may be visa requirements you need to be aware of.

The rules differ for EEA and non-EEA graduates. Here’s what you need to know:

EEA graduates
As a student from the EEA, you currently have the same rights as UK citizens, which means that you’re free to start your own business post-graduation. All of this may change, however, once the UK leaves the EU.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty at this point about what the rules will be for EEA citizens living in the UK post-Brexit, but the government has already introduced the so-called EU settlement scheme, which, as an EEA citizen, you can apply to in order to keep living in the UK. If successful, you’ll either be granted settled or pre-settled status. Settled status is granted if you’ve lived in the UK continuously for five years and will allow you to stay in the UK indefinitely. If you have been in the UK for less than five years you’ll probably be given pre-settled status, which you can change to settled once you reach five years of residency. You can learn more about the settlement scheme here:

Your right to start a business in the UK is tied up in your right to live here, so keep a close eye on the news surrounding Brexit so you can start planning ahead.

Graduates from outside the EEA
If you’ve come to the UK from outside of the EEA you will need a start-up visa to be able to start your own company. This replaced the old Graduate Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1) in July 2019. Obviously, there are conditions you need to satisfy to be eligible for this visa, so make sure you look on the website to read them thoroughly before applying.

The main things you need to be aware of are:

• Your business idea needs to be assessed by an approved organisation – This could be a university or specific organisation
• You can’t join or invest in a new business; it needs to be a new idea
• The idea must be original and innovative rather than something that’s already been done
• The approving body needs to be able to say whether the idea is viable and has potential for growth

This visa allows you to stay in the UK and build your business for two years, but it doesn’t allow you to stay in the UK indefinitely. If your business is a success, which we hope it will be, you can apply for an Innovator visa after your start-up visa expires. This one’s valid for 3 years and can be extended more than once.

Following your entrepreneurial dream can open up a world of possibilities, and, as a graduate, you’ll have gained a great number of skills to help you shape your idea into a success story. However, make sure you are fully aware of the relevant rules and regulations that apply to you to ensure you don’t stumble at the first hurdle.


Source: HN Global