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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Closes On The 6th July 2019

The popular Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa scheme is coming to an end on the 6th of July 2019. The visa, which allowed graduates with a strong business idea to start a business in the UK, has been shelved as the Home Office looks to make a raft of changes that affect the business minded visa routes in the UK. As well as the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, other popular routes such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Route have also been replaced.

In this article we are going to look at the options for graduates who are looking to start businesses in the UK, and how you can use these new visa routes as a stepping stone towards a long and fruitful stay in the UK.

What Will Replace The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Scheme?

The obvious replacement for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa scheme is the newly announced Start-up Visa. Aimed squarely at graduates and inexperienced entrepreneurs, the scheme allows entrepreneurs without seed funding to get their business idea endorsed. The scheme gives applicants two years leave in the UK to work exclusively on getting their business off of the ground.

As long as your business is successful, you can apply to upgrade your visa from the Start-Up Visa to the newly created Innovator Visa. This new visa offers you the option to continue your business career in the UK with extended options. The Innovator Visa offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to live in the UK for the long-term by allowing them to build up to the 5 years required to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

What Happens To Those Currently On The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa?

Of course one of the most frequent questions with the arrival of the new visa route is what happens next?

Fortunately there are still several avenues open to those currently in the UK on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. Your options will very much depend on where you currently are, but essentially your options are:

  • Extend to your second year (due to the cut off periods, you will need to apply before the current system closes)
  • Continue on Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa track if possible
  • Switch to the Start-Up Visa

Whatever option you choose, you can speak to one of our immigration experts first to ensure that you take the option that is best for you. Our experienced team can help you to choose between the options available, and can even help with applications and endorsement.

What is the Eligibility Criteria for the Start-Up Visa?

The main change for the new Start-Up Visa is the lack of needing to be a graduate. This change has been introduced to help a new wave of entrepreneurs to enter the UK. With the UK's immigration future somewhat unclear, it has made sense for the Home Office to embrace some changes that will help the British economy in the long-term.

In order to apply (or switch to) a Start-Up Visa, you will need to meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Have your business idea endorsed by an appropriate body (such as a nominated higher education institution)
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Meet the English language requirements (by passing an appropriate test to CEFR Level B2, having a specific qualification that was taught in English and is equal to a bachelor's degree or coming from a specific country)
  • Be able to prove that you can support yourself (with savings) while in the UK

As long as you meet this eligibility criteria, you will be able to apply for a Start-Up Visa that will give you up to 2 years leave to live and work (on your business). If your business is successful, you will be able to upgrade to an Innovator Visa. Please note that if at any stage your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa will also be withdrawn.

How Do I Apply For The Start-Up Visa?

In order to apply (or switch to) the Start-Up Visa you will need to first get your business idea endorsed by an appropriate body. Once you have this endorsement, you will then need to ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria (as laid out above). If you do satisfy the requirements then you will be able to make an online application. Currently the fee for making such an application is laid out below:

Who you're applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
Yourself 363 493
If you're a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia 308 438
All dependants 363 each person 493 each person

As well as the fee, you will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently 400 per year, per applicant. This means that you will have to pay the fee for each and every dependent that you choose to bring with you to the UK.

Once you have made your application you should have an answer within 3 weeks (Home Office workload permitting). If your visa is granted, you will be able to begin working on your business.

Where Can I Get More Help?

Our experienced team is up to date with all of the changes that are currently being made, and can help you to make the right decision when it comes to starting your business in the UK.

If you need more help with the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, or any of the UK's brand new business immigration visas, then make sure you get in touch with us as soon as possible.

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