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ier 1 graduate entrepreneur Frequently asked questions

The application is meant for non-European Economic Area national students only, who are concluding or have concluded their degree programme (Bachelor, Masters, or PhD degree) in the UK, unconcluded degree programme as at the time of this application under this scheme is subject to a condition that requires the applicant to conclude the degree, if the application is endorsed successfully. Diplomas, Foundation degree and postgraduate certificates are not acceptable qualifications for this scheme.

Switching to Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category would require that the applicant previously granted leave as a; Tier 4 Migrant, Student, Student re-sitting for an examination, as an employee of a UK university (student nurse, postgraduate doctor or dentist).

In addition the applicant must not have been granted entry clearance under any previous post study work scheme which includes;

  • An International Graduates Scheme or its forerunner the Science and Engineering graduate Scheme
  • A Fresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme
  • A Tier 1 (post study work) Migrant.

Furthermore the UKBA allows universities to endorse a Tier 1 visa application for any 20 graduates that show unique abilities, and are able to come up with innovative business ideas, the selected 20 graduates under this scheme are expected to submit a viable business plan and show how the business plan meets the UKBA requirements.
The Judges (usually made up of senior member of both academic and non-academic staff includes also an independent judge) assesses the business plan in four major categories;
  • The Business plan as a whole: Does the business plan offer unique benefits to customers and fulfill market demands? Does it express a concise executive plan which clearly highlights the business strategy and goods/services advantage? Does it clearly define the aims and objectives of the business?
  • Its Target audience and market research: Does the business plan highlight the need/gap in the market? Has its strengths, weakness, opportunity and threats (SWOT analysis) been Identified?
  • It’s Price, sales and risk: does the business plan provides it’s pricing strategy, how it intends to market products and make sales to targeted audience and outline future risk associated with the business plan and also identifies how this risk are factored into the business.
  • It's Financial Information: does it illustrate cash flow /profit or loss forecast and states clearly any assumptions made. Estimates of potential profit and strategy for future growth should also be included. Market and financial projections should be realistic and reasonable.
No, your business must be based in the UK in order to qualify, subject to the UKBA rules, also you need to meet with the Enterprise Development of your university regularly and he/she may also visit your business site.

Bear in mind that universities may charge commercial rates for the use of its premises and facilities
You must have at least £945 if applying within the UK and £1890 if applying outside the UK, evidence of this must be shown. You are not allowed to use Bank statements of friends or family as evidence, it must be your Bank account. Before immigration service will issue you letter of endorsement, you are required to scan and email evidence of your finances to your university’s mail for checking.
Yes you can work, under the terms of your student leave while your application is with the UKBA. After you have concluded all your courses and met the academic requirements, the period after will be regarded as your holiday so you can take up employment, but you must not;
  • Fill a full time, permanent vacancy
  • Be self employed
  • Be a doctor or dentist in training
  • Work as an entertainer
  • Work as a professional sportsperson (including a sport coach).

However, your university would expect that you spend most of your time developing your business idea not taking up paid jobs. A granted visa lasts for 1 year and it is possible to reapply to extend your leave, if you still meet the requirements under this scheme.

Note that your university reserves full rights to withdraw its endorsement thereby invalidating your visa, if it finds you are not spending most of your time developing your business.
Unfortunately the Tier 4 rules were changed on December 13th 2012 but there is an uncertainty about when you are allowed to start a business. The UK Council for International Students Affairs has sought clarification on this point. Until further notice, we advise students that their normal Tier 4 restrictions still apply between the periods upon the completion of their course and awaiting the outcome of the Tier 1 application. This means full time work is permitted, but not self employment.
A letter of decision will be given to you and then the panel would meet, if you are successful an endorsement letter will be sent to you at your registered address in the UK. Once you have accepted your university’s terms and conditions and the immigration service is satisfied that you meet the financial requirements of the scheme you will be granted leave.
After the 1st year your business will be assessed on its progress by the university panel. You will be asked to submit financial statements, annual report and an action plan for the 2nd year. They may be further panel meeting and if they are satisfied about the progress of your business they will grant you an endorsement for 2nd year Tier 1 visa under Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme.
Your university may provide support for your new business during the first year or two; therefore you must regularly meet with your university’s Enterprise Development Officer.
Develop a business plan and undertake market research to test the viability of your idea but you can't register a business and generate income of any sort by product testing or any sort of trade.

NOTE Universities may not accept any responsibility for damages, loss, injury or disappointment suffered by any student or graduate applying for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme or as a result of accepting the letter of endorsement to accompany your application for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme visa. Universities reserves full rights to withdraw its endorsements or offers of endorsement in relation to the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Scheme.
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