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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa

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What is a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa?

A Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa enables 2,000 non-European graduates who have been identified by their higher education institution as having entrepreneurial skills, and would like to develop a credible business idea in order to extend their stay in the UK after graduating. Once these graduates have been identified by the participating institution they must develop world-class entrepreneurial ideas or skills in order to make a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa application.  

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa allows graduates to:

  • Set up one or more businesses

  • Become self-employed

  • Become a sole trader or embark in a partnership after completion of their graduation.

From the 6th of April every year, this visa is allocated 2,000 places. 1,900 are reserved for qualifying Higher Education Institutions and 100 places are allocated to UK Trade and Investment (UKTI).

The highly trusted sponsors can come from the Tier 4 Student Visa list of sponsors, or A rated Tier 2 and 5 sponsors if a Tier 2 and 5 sponsor licence is held. The maximum of 20 endorsements per institution can be allocated.  

In order to qualify, the higher education institution must confirm that:

  • They wish to take part under this scheme

  • That they have established processes and competence for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among their undergraduate or postgraduate students

The limit does not apply to Graduate Entrepreneur applicants who wish to extend their leave.

Who can apply?

The applicant must already be in the UK and cannot apply for entry clearance under this type of visa. The applicant must also be in one of the following categories:

  • A Tier 4 Student Migrant

  • as a Student Nurse,

  • as a Student Re-sitting an Examination,

  • as a Student Writing Up a Thesis,

  • as a Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist, or

  • as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant.

Migrants cannot extend the leave under this category for more than occasion. An extension will need to be made as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur.

To meet the requirements for leave to remain migrants must:

  • score 75 points for Attributes under Appendix A

  • score 10 points for English language ability Appendix B

  • score 10 points for maintenance funds under Appendix C

Application Criteria for a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa

Endorsement from a Higher Education Institution approved by the UK Visa and Immigration/Home Office is mandatory. This endorsement confirms that the institution has assessed their business idea and their potential.

Applicants must score 75 points under the following criteria:

  • 25 points for endorsement by an approved UK Higher Education Institution – 25 points

  • 25 points awarded to the graduate or postgraduate degree from endorsing Higher Education Institution

  • 25 points awarded once endorsement confirms the Higher Education Institution has assessed the applicant and their business idea

If the applicant scores 75 points for the above criteria, they will automatically score 10 points under the English Language requirement

An applicant will need maintenance funds of £945 for a consecutive 90-day period ending no more than one month before the date of application. The applicant will be awarded 10 points for passing this.

Endorsement by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

If the applicant has a Global endorsement they must provide documents to show they have a good knowledge of English and can provide the required test or degree or be a national of majority English speaking country. The applicant does not need to satisfy the requirement if they were previously granted leave in a category.

Application for Entry Clearance the maintenance requirement is £1890 for 3 months. If you are apply from within the UK £945.00 for 3 months is required by the applicant, OR UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) should also confirm in endorsement letter that it has awarded funding of £1890 or £945 from 01 July 2014 for leave to remain applications to the applicant.

Period of Grant

Leave to remain will be granted for a period of 1 year. The applicant will only permitted to work for the business the applicant has established in the UK, although they will be allowed supplementary employment of no more than 20 hours per week.

An applicant can extend their stay for a further one year to a maximum of two years in this category, if they meet all the requirements set out above.


An applicant can bring dependants to the UK. Details of dependants must be given in the endorsement letter from the Higher Education Institution.

Appeal Rights

There are no Appeal rights under this category, which means you will need to submit administrative review.

Do you need to apply for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa?

Speak to our experts to find out about our fast, friendly and affordable service

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Visa and Migration is a private OISC regulated company (F201500999) and is not an official Government body. If you would like to prepare and submit your UK immigration application yourself you can do so by visiting the UKVI website.