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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

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The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur is an immigration route designed specifically for migrants who have been endorsed by their universities as having credible business ideas that will be beneficial to the United Kingdom. To apply for a Tier 1 Graduate entrepreneur visa, the following must apply:-

  • Must have been a student of a higher education institution in the UK
  • Must have finished, passed and been awarded a degree from the UK institution
  • Have a credible business idea which you want to build and grow in the UK
  • Must been endorsed by a participating institution. In this case would be the university the prospective applicant has just graduated from

The Process

Endorsement: - The first phase of the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneurship process begins with the applicant been endorsed by his university. Please make sure you university has been endorsed and is recognised by the UKBA for participating in the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Universities that are involved in this are called participating institutions.

Participating institutions would normally have their internal laid down process of determining qualification. These procedures would have normally been endorsed or okay'd by the Home Office. This is usually the criteria for them been accepted under this scheme

Endorsement is usually takes the form of an endorsement letter written by the University stating their endorsement of the applicant for the Tier 1 General application.

Visa Application

The next step after endorsement is to apply for the Graduate Entrepreneur visa. In your visa application, you will normally include proofs that you have completed your study, have passed and been awarded.

In addition to the above mentioned, you will also need to show that you meet the maintenance requirements. This means that you must have kept at least the sum of GBP 945 in your personal bank account for a minimum of 90 days. Please note that the sum above quoted above (GBP 945) is correct as at the time of writing this piece and is only applicable for in-country application.

For out of country applications you will need the sum of GBP 11,890 to be held in your personal bank account for 28 days. In addition, you will also need to pay the new IHS fee. Note also, that these figures are only correct as at the time of writing this web page.

It is important to note also, that your endorsement letter must be used within three months from the date it was issued.

Can My Dependants Apply With Me On A Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa

Yes! Your dependants can apply with you. Your dependants will strictly include your spouse and/or your child. Importantly children above the age of 18 can no longer apply as dependants under this route.

Also, your dependants who may already be in the UK can also switch to depend on your visa; as dependants of a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur.

Switching Into Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

Graduates who have been identified to have brought into being exceptional innovative ideas or entrepreneurial expertise by United Kingdom Higher Education Institutions and intends to continues his/her residence on the United Kingdom so as to begin one or more business related operations whist in the UK after he/she has graduated from school can do so by Switching into Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category. Before the individual makes an application for this course, he/she is required to make a request to a United Kingdom Education Institution that is approved by the United Kingdom Border Agency for endorsement so as to receive Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) permit. The individual is required to make use of the Endorsement received for the UK Higher Education Institution as part of the application whilst the application to remain under this category before three months after receipt of the endorsement. The institution is charged with the responsibility of supervising the person whilst he/she is successful in this category.

The Immigration Rules explains the term 'business' to be a embarking on a venture as either a sole trader, partnership or a company registered in the United Kingdom.

It is not possible for an individual to make an application for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) if he/she is stationed outside the United Kingdom.

Switching Into The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

Switching into this category is authorised if the applying individual has been offered residence in the United Kingdom under any of the following categories:

  • Tier 4 Migrant;
  • Student;
  • Student Nurse;
  • Student Re-sitting an Examination
  • Student Writing up a Thesis
  • Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist; or
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant.

However, the individual will not be authorised to make an application if he/she has previously receive entry clearance, leave to enter or remain as a Tier 1 Post Study Work migrant, a participant in the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme, or a Participant in the International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme).

If you are looking to make an application to switch into the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category, please contact one of our immigration solicitors on 0203744 2797 or send us an email on

Limit On Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Applications

The person applying is limited by the government of the United Kingdom to a number of applications under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category he/she is permitted to make as there is limited openings of 2,000 places per year (running from 6 April 2013 to 5 April 2014).

These openings are however allocated as thus:

  • 900 places known as General endorsements, allocated to qualifying Higher Education Institutions (HEI) for graduates in any subject;
  • 1,000 places known as MBA endorsements, allocated to qualifying Higher Education Institutions for MBA graduates; and

100 places known as Global endorsements, allocated to UKTI for overseas graduates.

This limit of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) does not apply to application for extension in a situation where the individual applying has been previously granted leave to remain under this category.

Terms And Conditions Of Stay As Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

If an application is a success the applying person will be granted initially leave to remain for 12 months, which may be further extended for another 12 months as long as the HEI sponsor is pleased with the advancement attained by the Graduate Entrepreneur.

To be granted Leave to Remain under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, the individual will be required to meet the following conditions:

  • He/she would not source for help from public funds (which means that he/she is not entitled to lay claim to most benefits paid by the state);
  • He/she under paragraph 326 of the Immigration rules would need to register with the Police; if this is required,
  • He/she is not entitled to take up employment unless:
    • He/she works for the business they have established; and
    • He/she is under employ for no more than 20 hours per week
  • He/she is not entitled to take up employment as a Doctor or Dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).

Switching Into Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

Applicants can only switch into this visa category if their last grant of leave was as a:-

  • Tier 4 General migrant
  • Student nurse
  • Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist

Applicants must not have previously been granted entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) migrant, a Participant in the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme, or a Participant in the International Graduates Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)

In the category, the individual is required to spend most of his/her time in growing his/her business but is also authorised to take up employ for at most 20 hours a week in order to get additional fund for support and maintenance.

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Extension

Application for extension under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Category is authorized for individuals who have been previously granted leave to remain for 12 months as seeks to extend his/her stay. He/she might be granted an extension for an additional 12 months is the application is a success under this category. However, a maximum total of 2 years granted leave is permitted under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Category.

The limit of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) does not apply to application for extension in a situation where the individual applying has been previously granted leave to remain under this category.

Extension of Stay as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

If your current leave to remain is as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, you may apply for an extension under the same category. Your sponsoring institution will theoretically have seen your business idea(s) grow and are happy to sponsor you to keep growing your business or idea. On the other hand if they feel that the business / business idea is failing and has no hope of survival, they may decide against your sponsorship and withdraw your endorsement.

If however, they are happy with your progress in the first year and continue to endorse you, you may apply for an visa extension under the Tier 2 Graduate entrepreneur visa category. If successful, you will be granted an additional year leave on your visa. It is important to note that there is a maximum of 2 years leave allowable under the Tier 1 Graduate entrepreneur scheme

It is expected that after two years, if the business continues to remain viable, the graduate entrepreneur may then apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. In which case he wouldn't need the normal GBP 200,000 investment funds but just GBP 50, 000.

Dependants Of A Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Migrant

A Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur migrant is allowed to bring in their dependants to join them in the UK. They will need to make an application as a dependant of a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur.

For the purposes of UK Immigration, a dependant is defined as a:-

Please note that your dependants may be over the age of 18 years if they became 18 in the UK but were under the age of 18 as at the time of their initial application. The Home Office will normally grant leave in line with the expiry date of the main applicant, in this case, the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur.

If you are a husband/wife or civil partner, an unmarried or same sex partner , or a child aged under 18 years, you fall into the category of the dependants.

In a situation where by a child is older than 18 years, he/she will be recognised as a dependant if he/she is currently in the country as a dependant.

If you as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa holder have dependants who intend to join you in the United Kingdom, they are permitted to make an application for a Visa in this regard to the UKVI. They will usually be issued visa that will elapse the same day as that held by you the Tier 1 Graduate Visa Holder.

Entry Clearance

In order to be considered for entry as your Spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, same sex partner or family member, you (the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur) as well as the dependant will each be required to be 18 years of age and over on the date in which they are to enter the country.

On the other hand, for your child to be considered for entry he/she is required to be less than 18 years of age on the date in which the application was made.


Recently there have been a lot of changes to the Immigration Rules some of which includes (that was enacted on October 1st, 2013) on the ability of individuals to switch into the Points Based System (PBS) of the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur from inside the country. The individual will not be permitted to switch if:

  • He/she was firstly granted visitor's leave.
  • He/she temporarily admitted or released.

For a child to make an application for leave as a child of a Points Based System (PBS) migrant, he/she is expected to be less than 18 years of age on the application date. However, in a situation where by the child is above 18 years of age, it is required that he/she holds or has held leave as a PBS migrant's family member, or a person making a leave application simultaneously as the Points Based System (PBS) Migrant.


If you seek an extension of your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur PBS dependant visa, you may be permitted to make an application along with the Main Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa holder (when he either seeks for extension or Indefinite Leave).

Funds For Maintenance

For Family members of the Points Based System (PBS) to be qualified for entry they have to meet the requirement of financial capability. They will have to meet their maintenance need without seeking for aid from public funds. In order to meet this requirement they are required to make proofs that support their claim available before making the application; that they have sufficient fund for maintenance that could last for a minimum of 90 days.

In some cases where the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur might be outside the country on a temporary basis not up to a year, it is expected that every family member would provide for themselves or for children (By the second parent in the country) £1800 available for meeting maintenance needs as well as the initial amount required as evidence of financial capability.

If the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur migrant will spend more than a year outside the country, each of the dependants remaining in the country would be required to make available for support and maintenance £600.


The PBS Dependant applicant can Lodge an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal if his/her application is rejected. If he/she is not given the right to appeal, he/she can challenge the decision through Judicial Review in the Upper Tribunal.


  • Unfortunately, you cannot apply for the Tier 1 Graduate entrepeneur outside the University. You may be better of applying for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. One of our lawyers will be in touch with your shortly to discuss this further.
  • Yes you may still apply. Amongst other things, you will need to give a reasonable reason why you havent been trading and what you have been doing for the last 2 years.
  • Universities will not likely endorse just any random business. They are more likely to endorse businesses that genuinely have the potential of adding to the UK and not merely compete with UK existing UK businesses. There is also a question of why can't you do this at in your home country? You should check this with your university.
  • Your Tier 4 visa does not allow you to be self employed; so you can not start a business whilst on a Tier 4. You are better of starting once your visa have been applied.
  • 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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