The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa came into being in March 2012. Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visas may be granted to graduates who have engaged in innovative entrepreneurial activity during their studies. This visa enables them to stay in the UK following their graduation to develop their business ideas. A graduate entrepreneur lasts for an initial period of one year. Those who are granted a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa can apply to have that visa extended by one year.

You should be aware that it is difficult to meet the requirements for this visa category and only a very small number of immigrants will qualify.

Who Can Apply

Applicants for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa must be in the UK and have been awarded a degree from a participating UK academic institution at a Bachelors, Masters, or PhD level.

You can switch into the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category if you are currently in the UK under one 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.

You will need to request a letter of endorsement from your UK higher education institution before you make your application under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category. This letter will need to include confirmation from your institution that they have assessed your business idea and found it to be a genuine, credible and innovative business idea.
Scoring Points

You will need to score 95 points under the Tier 1 points-based system to make a successful application under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category.

(a) You have been endorsed by a UK higher education institution

(b) The UK higher education institution has awarded a UK recognised bachelor’s or postgraduate degree to you; or

(c) You already have a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and you have an endorsement for an extension application from the same institution. The endorsement confirms the UK higher education Institution has assessed you and your business idea.

English Language

If you are successful, you will be allowed entry on a 12 month visa after which you will be able to apply for a second 12 month visa if the business is making progress. Although you will be expected to spend most of your time running the business, you will be able to work up to 20 hours per week outside the business in order to support yourself financially.