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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa - Top Three Tips For Successfully Pitching Your Business

In recent years, the UK government has imposed severe restrictions on non-EEA graduates attending UK universities from staying in Britain to work following completion of their course. One of the countries most affected by these restrictions is India, which has made clear to British Prime Minister, Theresa May, that any talk of a bi-lateral trade deal between the two countries could be hampered unless Britain softens its immigration policy towards its students. One way talented graduates from non-EEA countries can remain in the UK after their course ends is to successfully obtain a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa. A Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa is available for graduates who have a genuine and credible business idea. It allows a successful applicant to remain in the UK to establish their business after finishing their studies.

Eligibility for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa

To qualify for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa, your business idea must be endorsed by either:

  • an approved Higher Educational Institute; or
  • The Department for International Trade

To be eligible for entry into the UK under the Graduate Entrepreneur route, via endorsement by a Higher Educational Institution, you must have all of the following:

  • a UK-recognised bachelor's degree, master's degree or PhD awarded before your date of endorsement
  • endorsement from an authorised UK higher education institution issued in the past three months
  • A minimum of £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK, or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK to support yourself
  • meet the English language requirements
  • permission to remain in the UK from your financial sponsor if they're a government or an international scholarship agency and have paid your course fees and living costs in the past 12 months

To gain endorsement by the Department for International Trade (DIT), you need all of the following:

  • a degree qualification that is recognised as being equal to a UK bachelor's degree
  • to meet the criteria set by DIT
  • endorsement from DIT issued in the past 3 months
  • At least £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK
  • meet the English language requirements

You don't have to provide evidence that you have sufficient savings to support yourself if you have an endorsement from DIT, stating you've been awarded funding to cover your maintenance.

Three tips for a successful pitch

The biggest challenge prospective Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applicants must face is getting a body to endorse their business idea. How you pitch your concept and present your business plan will make all the difference as to whether or not you receive endorsement. Our top three tips for obtaining endorsement from an approved Higher Education Institution are as follows:

  1. Make sure your idea is original - you don't need to be the next Thomas Edison but your entrepreneurial idea must be relevant, original and applicable to the UK. Think about your market and your potential customers. What is the problem your unique idea will solve? Can this be done cost-effectively? Will investors see enough potential and return to provide the funding you need to get the idea off the ground? Once you have a clear answer to all these questions, you need to succinctly communicate your idea and its value to the British market in your pitch.
  2. Create a sharp business plan - your business plan not only has to demonstrate why your idea should gain endorsement and funding, it also needs to clearly identify the benefit it will have to the British market long-term. Market research is vital - there is no-point trying to pitch an idea that has already been done well. However, if you can add value from a customer's perspective to an existing idea, you may succeed in convincing the endorsement panel that your concept deserves a chance. Make sure you also include references to UK employment legislation if you plan to hire staff and the source and extent of your funding including how much of your own capital you plan to risk on the venture. All these points will add to the credibility of your pitch, showing that you have thoroughly researched the market and are prepared to risk your own money on making your venture a success.
  3. Study entrepreneur and business modules as part of your course and enter competitions - if you have optional modules within your course that cover topics including entrepreneurship, management and innovation, make sure you take them. This shows the endorsement committee that you have been planning your venture for some time and are truly committed to making it work. There are also entrepreneur competitions that allow you to develop and pitch your idea to a panel of experts. This can be a great way to get experience in selling your idea and you may possibly obtain some funding for your venture.

In summary

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa provides a way for dynamic, innovative graduates to remain in the UK and launch their own business based on a unique concept. To ensure the success of your application, it is advisable to seek expert legal advice to ensure your business pitch to an endorsing body and your application to UK Visas & Immigration has the highest chance of success. The team at Reiss Edwards consists of some of London's leading immigration solicitors. If you require expert legal advice on obtaining a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa and how to successfully pitch to an endorsement committee, please call us on 020 3744 2797.

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