One of the most exciting immigration categories available to non-EEA graduates is the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route. Graduates, who do not have a job offer in the UK, but have an outstanding business idea that they wish to implement in the UK, can apply under this route.
The UK Government publish a list of authorised Higher Education Institutions in the UK, who can endorse graduates wishing to apply under this route. These Higher Education Institutions play a central role in helping to identify these graduates who have developed genuine and credible business ideas or entrepreneurial skills. Alternatively, a graduate can be endorsed by the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as part of their elite global graduate entrepreneur programme.
This immigration category is limited to 2,000 places every year. Qualifying UK Higher Education Institutions may endorse 1,900 graduates in any subject. UK Trade and Investment may endorse 100 overseas graduates.
How to qualify
To qualify you must have been awarded a degree qualification, which meets or exceed the recognised standard of a bachelor’s degree in the UK. If you obtained an overseas qualification, the standard must be confirmed by UK NARIC.
You must be identified by the UK Trade and Investment or an authorised UK Higher Education Institution (HEI), as a person who have developed genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills, to go on to establish one or more businesses in the UK. To apply to be endorsed, the applicant can lodge an application with the relevant institution.
You have to fulfil an English Language and a Maintenance Fund requirement.
Switching into this category from certain other UK Immigration categories is allowed. Please speak to your BIC consultant for more information.
Spouses and dependants
Spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, same-sex partners, and dependant children are allowed to accompany the main applicant, provided they meet the relevant requirements.
Length of stay and right to work
You will be granted an initial leave to remain for one year, after which you will be able to apply for an extension of another year. The maximum period allowed under this category is two years.
After two years in this category, you may be eligible to apply as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).
Apart from the business or businesses you have established, you may take other employment, provided that this is not as doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson.
You will be allowed to study further subject to certain conditions.
While this category does not, in itself, lead to Permanent Residence, it does provide an applicant with up to two years’ Leave to Remain in the UK, which may facilitate future applications to enter an immigration route which will lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain.