Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur will be opened for extension applications only from 6 July 2019 and will be replaced by Start-up Visa

This route is for graduates who have been identified by participating Higher Education Institutions as having developed world-class entrepreneurial ideas or skills to extend their stay in the UK after graduation in order to set up a business in the UK.

The business can be as a sole trader, a partnership or a company registered in the UK.  There can be more than one business.

Graduate Entrepreneurs can switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category and need only show £50,000 of investment funds (but will be required to show the normal maintenance funds).


There is a limit of 2,000 places for the year from 6 April 2015: 1,900 places will be allocated to qualifying Higher Education Institutions and 100 places will be allocated to UK Trade and Investment. The places are now open to graduates of all disciplines, previously 1,000 places were allocated for MBA graduates, however this rule has since been removed.

The places are divided equally between participating institutions, (these must be highly trusted sponsors under Tier 4, or A rated Tier 2 and 5 sponsors if a Tier 2 and 5 sponsor licence is held) up to a maximum of 20 endorsements per institution. In order to qualify institutions must confirm that:

  • they wish to take part; and
  • that they have established processes and competence for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among their undergraduate and postgraduate population.
    The limit does not apply to Graduate Entrepreneur applicants who wish to extend their leave under this category.


An applicant cannot apply for entry clearance in this capacity and must already be in one of the following immigration categories in order to be able to switch into the graduate entrepreneur category in the UK:-

  • as a Tier 4 Migrant,
  • as a Student,
  • as a Student Nurse,
  • as a Student Re-sitting an Examination,
  • as a Student Writing Up a Thesis,
  • as a Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist, 
  • as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant or
  • as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant.  An applicant who has, or was last granted, entry clearance or leave to remain as a Tier 2 (General) Migrant must have been granted leave to work as a post-doctoral researcher for the same institution which is endorsing his application as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant

An applicant who has previously had leave as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant cannot extend the leave under this category on more than 1 occasion.

Requirements for leave to remain

To qualify for leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant, an applicant must:-

(i) score 75 points for Attributes under Appendix A
(ii) score 10 points for English language ability Appendix B
(iii) score 10 points for maintenance funds under Appendix C

1. Attributes

The applicant will need to request an endorsement from a Higher Education Institution approved by the Home Office.  Approved UK Higher Education Institutions can be found on the Home Office website.

The applicant must score 75 points under the following criteria:-

Endorsed by an approved UK Higher Education Institution – 25 points
The endorsing Higher Education Institution has awarded the applicant a graduate or postgraduate degree – 25 points
The endorsement confirms the Higher Education Institution has assessed the applicant and their business idea – 25 points

2. English language

If the applicant scores 75 points for Attributes they will automatically score 10 points under the English language requirement

3. Maintenance funds

An applicant will need to show maintenance funds of £945 from 01 July 2014 for a consecutive 90-day period ending no more than one month before the date of application. 

Endorsement by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

The UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) elite global graduate entrepreneur scheme targets the brightest and best entrepreneurs from overseas Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The UKTI will be working with the best HEIs globally in order to get the best elite graduate entrepreneurs into the UK. 

For the year from 6 April 2015 there will be 100 places for those applying under the elite global graduate entrepreneur scheme. In order to be granted a Tier 1(Graduate entrepreneur) migrant visa under the scheme, applicants must meet the following requirements:

Attributes: pass mark = 75 points

  • the applicant must be endorsed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI);
  • the applicant has been awarded a recognised Bachelor degree, Masters degree or PhD (not a qualification of equivalent level which is not a degree), one which is deemed by UKNARIC to meet or exceed the standard of a UK Bachelor’s degree; or
  • the applicant’s previous grant of leave was as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant and they have an endorsement for an extension application from the same institution;
  • the applicants endorsement confirms that the endorsing body has assessed them and their business idea.

English language: pass mark = 10points

If the applicant has a Global endorsement they must provide the specified documents to show they have a good knowledge of English. There are three ways to show they meet the English language requirement. These include:

  • being a national of a majority of English-speaking country;
  • passing an English language test proving a knowledge of English equivalent to level B1 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework (please refer to the Approved English Tests Providers List);
  • holding a degree taught in English and equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.

The applicant can also meet the English language requirement, without the need to provide evidence, if they have ever been given permission to stay in the UK:

  • under Tier 1 (General) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), or;
  • as a businessperson (under Paragraphs 200-210 of the Immigration Rules), or;
  • as a highly skilled migrant programme participant under the Immigration Rules which came into force on 5 December 2006, or; 
  • as a Tier 2 (General) migrant under the rules in place on or after 6 April 2011, provided at the time they were granted that leave they obtained points for having a knowledge of English equivalent to level B1 of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning or above, or;
  • as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant, providing they scored points for their English language ability in that application, or;
  • as a Minister of Religion (not as a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) migrant)

Maintenance: pass mark = 10 points

  • An applicant will need to show maintenance funds of at least £1890 from 01 July 2014 for entry clearance applications or £945 from 01 July 2014 for leave to remain applications for a consecutive 90-day period ending no more than one month before the date of application, or;
  • UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) should confirm in its endorsement letter that it has awarded funding of at least £1890 from 01 July 2014 for entry clearance applications or £945 from 01 July 2014 for leave to remain applications to the applicant.

Period and conditions of grant

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

Extending stay

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


An applicant can bring dependants to the UK and dependants already in the UK can apply for further leave as dependants in this category, subject to the dependant maintenance requirements. Dependants will now be allowed to apply from within the UK, as long as they are not here illegally, as visitors, or on temporary admission or temporary release. Details of dependants must be given in the endorsement for the Higher Education Institution.

Appeal rights

There would be a full right of appeal against any refusal.

Our services

  • We can advise on the procedure, requirements and merits of making an application for leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • We can advise and represent our clients in making representations in support of their immigration matters
  • We can advise and represent our clients’ dependants to seek dependant visas in line with the visa of the main applicant
  • We can offer a Super Premium Service where the Home Office will visit the applicants in order to process the applications within 24 hours
  • We can advise on the merits of an appeal in the event of any refusal and represent clients in appeals

Whatever the case, we are here to assist, advise and represent our clients in relation to any aspect of their immigration matters.



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