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Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa

If you wish to apply for a visa in this category then our team at Hunter Stone Law will be able to guide and assist you throughout every step of the process. In order to qualify for this visa you would have to meet the requirement of the relevant section of the Immigration Rules. However we have attempted to simplify the requirements below.

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa if you:

  • are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea
  • are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • meet the other eligibility criteria

Obtaining endorsement

You must be endorsed by either:

  • UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as part of the elite global graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirius)
  • your current UK higher education institution (HEI) if it is an authorised endorsing body

Once you have obtained your endorsement letter then you can apply for your visa.  Please note that you must have your endorsement letter before you apply for your visa.

Eligibility

The eligibility requirements for this visa depend on who is endorsing you.

If your endorsement is by a UK higher education institution (HEI)

You need all of the following to be eligible:

  • 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 3 months
  • £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
  • to meet the English language requirement
  • 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

You can’t apply with any of the following:

  • foundation degrees
  • honorary degrees
  • qualifications awarded in the UK by overseas awarding bodies
  • qualifications undertaken at overseas campuses of UK institutions
  • professional and vocational qualifications
  • postgraduate certificates or diplomas

If you’re Endorsement is by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

You need all of the following to be eligible:

  • a degree qualification that is recognised as being equal to a UK bachelor’s degree
  • to meet the criteria set by UKTI
  • endorsement from UKTI issued in the past 3 months
  • £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK - this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
  • to meet the English language requirement

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

Knowledge of English Language

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways.

English Language Exceptions

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of majority English speaking country. The full list of countries is available on the Home Office website. You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances.

Documents you must provide

The documents you need to provide depend on how you’re being endorsed.

If you are being endorsed by a UK higher education institution (HEI)

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a letter of endorsement from your UK HEI
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK - you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
  • You’ll also need to provide the following if your degree was awarded by a different UK HEI than the one providing your endorsement:
  • an original certificate of your qualification or an accepted alternative
  • proof that you have knowledge of the English language

In addition to the above you will also need:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • 2 passport size colour photographs
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • You will also need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

If you are being endorsed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a letter of endorsement from UKTI
  • an original certificate of your academic qualification or an alternative from the documents guide
  • a residence permit, ‘green card’ or valid visa if you’re not a national of the country from where you’re applying
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £900 (£945 from 1 July) in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,800 (£1,890 from 1 July) if applying from outside the UK - you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply or a letter from UKTI saying you’ve been awarded enough funding to cover your maintenance

In addition you will also need to provide the following:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • previous passports
  • 2 passport size colour photographs
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • You will also need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

Applying outside the UK

You must apply online for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa. You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

Applying in the UK

You can only extend your existing visa or switch to this visa if you’re already in the UK.

Extend your visa

You can apply to extend your stay in the UK under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa. When making the application you should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay.  Furthermore you should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must already have this visa and all of the following:

  • a new endorsement letter from your UK higher education institute or UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) confirming that you’ve made satisfactory progress in developing your business
  • at least £945 available or a letter from UKTI saying you’ve been awarded enough funding to cover your maintenance

How long your visa be granted for if you are successful with this application

A Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa can be extended for 1 year. You may be able to switch into a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa at the end of your 2 years as a Graduate Entrepreneur if your business is successful.

Switch to this visa

You can apply to change (‘switch’) from another visa to a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa. As always you should apply before your current visa expires.

Eligibility

You must already be in the UK as a:

  • student
  • student nurse
  • student re-sitting an examination
  • student writing up a thesis
  • Tier 4 (General) visa holder
  • postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • Tier 2 (General) migrant working as a post-doctoral researcher

You must meet all of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa’s eligibility requirements as listed above.

You can’t switch to this visa if you’ve already had a visa under one of the following categories:

  • Tier 1 (Post Study Worker)
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • International Graduates Scheme
  • Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme

How long your visa be granted for if you are successful with this application

You can stay in the UK for 1 year on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.

Family members/Dependants

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your husband, wife or partner
  • your child under 18

Savings to show your family members/dependants can be supported

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.  Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them - this is in addition to the £945 you must have to support yourself.  The amount you must have depends on your circumstances.

You must have £1,260 for each dependant if you’re applying from outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months. If you’ve been in the UK for more than 12 months, you must have £630 for each dependant.

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Please note that you don’t need to provide evidence of your savings if you have a letter from UK Trade and Investment saying you’ve been given funding to support yourself and your dependants.

If your family members/dependants are applying from outside the UK then your family members must apply online. They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of their application.

Dependants applying in the UK

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. They should apply using the dependant application form. It’s best to send your dependants’ applications at the same time as yours but they can apply at a later date by post, or in person at a premium service centre.

It should be noted that members of your family can’t apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

What you can and can’t do

You can:

  • bring family members with you
  • extend your stay in the UK using this visa
  • switch into this visa from some other visa categories

You can’t:

  • get public funds
  • work as a doctor or dentist in training
  • work as a professional sportsperson (eg a sports coach)
  • settle in the UK on this visa