Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa

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Apply for Graduate Entrepreneur

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category of the Points Based System is for those investing in the United Kingdom to set up, take over or join businesses in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category of the Point Based System is for those who are graduates of a UK higher education institution (HEI) and would like to start a business.

An individual can apply under this route by two possible ways. First one is to receive the endorsement by the UK Trade and Investment as part of the elite global graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirius) or a UK higher education institution (HEI) if it’s an authorised endorsing body. In addition, the successful candidate will need to score a total of 95 points on the Points Based System and meet all the necessary requirements under the Immigration Rules. On the other hand, this type of visa does not have a minimum threshold for the funds you would need to start a business.

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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

This type of visa is for those who:

  • Have finished a university in the UK and would like to set up their own business
  • Have the necessary approval of an education, government institution

To be eligible for this type of visa to remain in the UK you must be able to show:

  • A UK recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD awarded before your endorsement
  • Endorsement from an authorised UK higher education institution issued in the past 3 months (or endorsement from UK Trade and Investment)
  • £945 in savings if you are applying form the inside the UK, or £1890 if applying from outside the UK. The funds must have been with you for at least 90 days prior to the application date
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Permission to remain in the UK from your financial sponsor if they are a government or an international scholarship agency and have paid the relevant fees in the past 12 months
Proving maintenance may not be necessary if you have an endorsement from UK Trade and Investment and they agree to cover it.

Under this route you cannot apply with:

  • Foundation degrees
  • Honorary degrees
  • Qualifications awarded in the UK by overseas warding bodies
  • Qualifications undertaken at overseas campuses of UK institutions
  • Professional and vocational qualifications
  • Postgraduate certificates or diplomas

An application for a Graduate Entrepreneur visa can be made either from outside the UK or from within the UK if you have, or have had, permission to stay as a Tier 4 Student, Tier 2 General Skilled worker (if the granted leave was to work as a postdoctoral researcher for the same institution which is endorsing your application as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur) or you are interested to extend your stay.

It is also possible to bring your family members with you.

Additionally, there is a total of 2000 places that are allocated on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme each year and those applications have to be submitted within 3 months from the date of endorsement

Successful applicants receive 12 months of leave. Before it expires you may extend it as long as you are still endorsed by your university or college and that you have made satisfactory progress in developing your business.

Also, Graduate Entrepreneurs are permitted to extend their leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur if they have access to £50 000. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur category will eventually lead you to settlement in the UK (if you meet the necessary requirements).

Genuine Entrepreneur Test

For extensions and initial applications you will also need to demonstrate to the Home Office that you are prepared to fulfil or have fulfilled your obligations. In others words, you are genuinely either prepared to start a company or have started one and are currently running it. Furthermore, you will also need to show that you have invested the relevant funds in your business and you genuinely intend to continue in that business and not undertake any other employment.

The Home Office will consider:

  • The evidence you have submitted
  • The credibility of your source of funds
  • The jobs you have created
  • Any necessary registrations, accreditation and insurance required to be obtained
  • Any other relevant documents and information
Settlement in the UK as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

For a Graduate Entrepreneur to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you will have to:

  • Switch into Tier 1 Entrepreneur (as you will not be able to apply for settlement as a Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Proof that you have registered with the HMRC as self-employed or registered as a director of a company
  • You have managed to create 2 full time jobs (30 hours per week and they have to have lasted for at least 12 months)
  • Passed the Life in the UK test
  • Proof of English language skills (IELTS 4.0, UK bachelor’s degree or be a national of a majority English speaking country (e.g. Canada, USA and etc.)
  • The genuineness of your business will be held to the same standards as your initial application and visa switching
  • Have not left the UK more than 180 days per year in order to qualify for settlement
  • After a successful application of settlement it is possible to apply for a British Passport after 12 months (Note: for those that wish to receive a British passport should not leave the country more than 90 days per year)
Acceleration may be possible. In this case it would be possible to apply for settlement after 3 years if:
  • The applicant has created 10 full-time jobs
  • The business receives at least £5 million in income
Switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur after 2 years.
FAQ – Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
Is it possible to apply with someone else?

No, under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa you cannot apply with anyone else as a partner or a join business. However, it may be possible to use the funds of third parties and/or family members if you have permission to do so.

Do I need to show my source of funds?

Yes, if the relevant money has been given to you in the 90 days period before you make the application, you will need to provide proof where the money has come from.

Is it possible for a third party to provide me with the necessary funds?

Yes, it is possible to depend on money that was made available to you by one or more family members, friends and etc. However, the relevant third party will need to provide their contact details and written confirmation that you can use the money for the benefit of your business.

I have finished my university can I open a business now?

If you have at least a bachelor’s degree from a UK university you will need to receive an endorsement letter. Not to mention, this letter can come from the university or college you studied in (if it has the authority to endorse students) or you can receive an endorsement from the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI). Once you receive the letter you can begin preparations for a Graduate Entrepreneur so can start your business.

Are there any restrictions on my visa?

Permission is given to operate a business but no employment is allowed, you do not have access to public funds, under this visa you cannot settle (you will need to switch).

How long can I stay in the UK?

Initial application grants 12 months. Furthermore, you can apply for this visa from inside & outside the UK (as long as you have finished a UK NORIC approved university and have a letter of endorsement). Extensions are available for an additional 12 months after that you will have to switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur.

I have been granted my visa what should I do now?

Registry with relevant authorities is recommended. Also, you will have to invest your money in the your business (you should avoid investing money in a business related to property). Moreover, for your extension you will need to show that your business is still active.

Is it possible to leave the UK during the visa period?

Yes, you can leave the UK for a maximum period of 180 days per year. However, if your long term goal is to achieve British citizenship you should aim to not leave the country from more than 90 days per year.

Is it possible to bring my family with me?

Yes, you can bring your family with you. This includes your spouse, partner or children under the age of 18.

Is settlement available?

After your extension for an additional 12 months you will have to switch into a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. Once you obtain it you can settle after 5 years of residence or 3 if you satisfy the acceleration requirement. Furthermore, after settlement you will need to live for an additional 12 months and not leave the country for more than 90 days per year.

Can I switch into this visa?

Yes, you switch into this visa if you hold a valid endorsement letter.

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