You 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 nurse;
- Student re-sitting an examination;
- Student writing up a thesis;
- Postgraduate doctor or dentist; or
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant.
You 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.
You must have graduated from a college or university in the UK within the last 12 months. For you to qualify, your college must:
- review and approve your business idea(s); and
- write a formal letter of endorsement on the Graduate Entrepreneur scheme
The UK government has placed a cap on the number of applications that can be made under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category of 1,000 in any financial year. The financial year runs from 6th April to 5th April.
The UK government has ruled that the 1,000 available visas will be divided equally between participating institutions. No participating institution will receive more than 10 slots. In order to qualify, institutions must confirm that they have established processes and competence for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among their undergraduate and postgraduate student bodies.
The cap applies to new applications only. The cap does not apply to Graduate Entrepreneur applicants who apply to extend their leave to remain in the UK under this category. If you have been in the UK under a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa for 1 year, you can apply to extend your stay in this category for a further year.
Please note, you cannot apply for settlement in the UK under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category and the time spent in the UK under this category will not count towards the qualifying period for any future applications for settlement in the UK.
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. However, at the end of 2 years in this category, you would be expected to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category.
No, you would be expected to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route as soon as feasible.