If you have recently finished university in the UK, and would like to set up your own business, you may be able to apply to enter or remain in the UK as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur.
An application for a Graduate Entrepreneur visa can be made either from outside the UK or from within the UK if you have, or last had, permission to stay as a Tier 4 Student (or in various other Student categories), Tier 2 General Skilled Worker (if granted leave to work as a post-doctoral researcher for the same institution which is endorsing your application as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur) or you are looking to extend in this category. Your family members may accompany you as your dependents.
Graduate entrepreneurs UK immigration legal requirements
For an initial application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Graduate Entrepreneur, you will need to show that you meet the following requirements:
- You have been awarded a degree qualification which meets or exceeds the recognised standard of a Bachelor’s degree in the UK (this may be a UK or overseas degree, but if relying on an overseas degree then UK NARIC must confirm the equivalency of the level of the qualification);
- You have been endorsed by a UK Higher Education Institution or UK Trade and Investment;
- The endorsement confirms that the endorsing body has assessed you and considers that you have a genuine and credible business idea and you will spend the majority of your working time on developing business ventures (if applying to extend your stay as a Graduate Entrepreneur, the endorsement must also confirm that you have made satisfactory progress in developing your business since your current leave was granted).
A total of 2,000 places is allocated on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme each year and applications must be submitted within 3 months of the date of the endorsement.
In addition, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- You can speak and understand English to a required standard:
Unless you are a citizen of a majority English speaking country, or you have a degree that was taught in English and is equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree, you need to pass a test at Level B1 CEFR before you make your application. You need to achieve Level B1 in all four elements of the test (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and
- You have enough maintenance funds to support yourself:
You need to show that you are able to support yourself when you apply for your visa. If you are applying from overseas, you need to have £1,890, and if you are applying from within the UK you need £945. This money needs to have been held in a bank account in your name for at least 90 days before you submit your application.
If your application is successful, you will be granted entry clearance or leave to remain for a period of one year. Before your leave expires, you can then extend your stay for one more year if your university or college still endorses you and confirms that you have made satisfactory progress in developing your business.
Alternatively, Graduate Entrepreneurs can apply for further leave to remain in the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category if they have access to at least £50,000. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur category can lead to a settlement in the UK.
Bringing your Family
Your partner and dependent children can live with you in the UK. You will need to show that you have an additional £1,260 for each dependent if you are applying from overseas or if you have been in the UK for less than 12 months. If you have been in the UK for 12 months or more you will need to show that you have £630 for each dependent.
Children must be under 18 when their initial application is made.