One of the most exciting immigration categories available to non-EEA graduates is the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route. If you are a graduate, who have a genuine and credible business idea, you can apply under this route.
In order to apply, the applicant must be endorsed by the Department of International Trade (DIT) or by an authorised UK Higher Education Institution.
UK Visas and Immigration sets an annual limit of Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visas every year. The limit is about 2,000 places annually.
How to qualify for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
To qualify, you must have a degree qualification, which meets or exceed the recognised standard of a bachelor’s degree in the UK. If you have an overseas qualification, the standard must be confirmed by UK NARIC.
You must be identified by a UK Higher Education Institute (HEI) or the Department for International Trade (DIT) as having developed a genuine and credible business idea. They must also have endorsed you as having the entrepreneurial skills to establish one or more businesses in the UK.
To apply to be endorsed, the applicant can lodge an application with the relevant institution. The endorsement letter must then be submitted with the visa application.
You have to fulfil an English Language and a Maintenance Fund requirement.
It is possible to switch to the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route from other UK immigration categories.
Spouses and dependents of a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
Your spouse/civil partner/unmarried partner/same-sex partner and any dependent children can apply to accompany you.
Length of stay and right to work
You will be granted an initial leave to remain for one year. You can then apply to extend your stay in the UK for 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, provided your business is successful.
You are allowed to study further, subject to certain conditions.
You may not work as a doctor or dentist in training or a professional sportsperson.
There is no recourse to public funds.
Indefinite Leave to Remain and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur does not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain.
This category does not, in itself, lead to Permanent Residence. It does however, provide an applicant with up to two years’ Leave to Remain in the UK. This may facilitate future applications to enter an immigration route which will lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain.