Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route is now officially closed to new applicants as of 29th March 2019. The following information is retained for historical interest only.
If you are a student hoping to switch to a business visa, or are looking to come to the UK to start a business, please see information regarding the Start-up visa or the Innovator visa. If you have any questions regarding business visas in the UK, please contact us directly.
What is the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa?
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, though named similarly to Tier 1 Entrepreneur, has slightly different requirements and restrictions. This visa is for applicants who have recently graduated from university and have a business idea they would like to establish in the UK.
The visa provides an appealing option for university graduates to move to the UK to start a business or continue living and working in the country following graduation, allowing them the time to pursue the entrepreneurial ambitions they have built through their studies.
How do you qualify?
To be eligible for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Endorsement: applicants must obtain an endorsement from either UK Trade and Investment or an authorised UK Higher Education Institution. The Home Office sets an annual limit to the number of graduates that Higher Education Institutions are able to endorse each year. The current limit is 1,900 places per year.
- Being a Graduate with a Business Idea. In order to be successful in obtaining an endorsement from a Higher Education Institution, applicants must be a graduate and have a genuine and credible business idea.
- Holding a Recognised Degree. Applicants must have been awarded a recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD. This qualification should either be a UK degree or, if it was awarded overseas, a qualification that has been confirmed to be of equivalent standing by UK NARIC.
- English Language and Maintenance Requirements. Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur applicants also need to meet an English Language requirement and prove that they have enough money (maintenance) to support themselves whilst on the visa. However, unlike the standard Entrepreneur visa, there is no requirement to show any level of investment funds.
How long is Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur granted for?
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visas are initially granted for one year and can be extended for an additional year. In order to be eligible for this extension applicants must obtain ongoing endorsement from the supporting Higher Education Institute or the Department for International Trade which confirms that satisfactory progress has been made in developing their business.
A Graduate Entrepreneur visa holder may switch to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category to continue the development of their business in the UK. When switching from Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur to Tier 1 Entrepreneur applicants are able to show a reduced level of investment (£50,000) rather than the usual £200,000.
What restrictions are there?
Unlike on Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Graduate Entrepreneur visa holders are allowed to take on employment outside of the company they are working to create, as long as they aren’t working as a dentist or doctor in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
Applicants are also permitted to study, so it is possible to undertake a master’s degree on a part time basis whilst also working to establish a business in the UK.
There is no limit to absences outside of the UK whilst on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.
As with Tier 1 Entrepreneur, almost any business venture is permitted except for those that are mainly engaged in property development or property management. Applicants are however able to establish companies that are mainly involved in construction.
Can you include family members in Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur?
Applicants can include partners and children aged under 18 on this visa, they will be granted the same length of time as the main applicant. These family members will be able to work or establish their own businesses in the UK.
Does Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur does not directly lead to ILR and will only grant residency in the UK for the maximum of two years in total.
However, because of the ability to switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur at the reduced investment rate, it does provide a route to settlement through this continued entrepreneurship.
Applicants who do not wish to progress to Tier 1 Entrepreneur have the option of switching to other categories such as Tier 2 General, provided you meet certain criteria.
It is worth noting that time in this category can be included in the Long Residence route to ILR, so for students who have already completed many years residence within the UK it may be worth considering.
How can we help?
White Rose Visas are able to assist with Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur applications through both a Graduate Entrepreneur Standard Package and our Graduate Entrepreneur Enhanced Package where we are able to assist with the endorsement process. Our business support team are also able to write any business plans that might be requested during this process, and we are experienced in transferring many clients from Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur to Tier 1 Entrepreneur or a different visa of their choosing.