Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur


The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa closes to new applications on 6th July 2019. For advice about meeting this deadline, speak to our UK business visa specialists.

Replacing the  Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa is the new Start-Up route, aimed at individuals with a viable business idea they want to put into action in the UK.

What is a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa?

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa allows nationals of non-EEA countries 12 months in which to set up an enterprise in the UK. Extensions can be applied for, or visa holders may opt to then apply for the Tier1 Entrepreneur visa, which becomes eligible for a reduced investment amount of £50,000.

It is also possible to switch to this visa from other visa categories, and you can bring dependants with you to the UK.

The application process is however far from straight forward. You will need to seek endorsement either from your university or the DIT that your business venture is viable and that you are adequately skilled and committed to run the business. Once endorsed, you then need to apply to the Home Office for the visa.

With so much at stake, it’s important to ensure it is the most suitable route for your needs, particularly in light of the route’s imminent closure.

Making a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa application

At DavidsonMorris we help individuals meet their UK immigration needs, including graduate entrepreneur visa applicants.

We have the experience and insight to help you build a comprehensive submission and make the process as smooth as possible.

As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office employees, we have an established reputation for effective and efficient management and processing of visa applications, and for providing expert visa-related advice. We also understand the stresses involved with moving

Can I still apply under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa?

Applicants have until 6th July 2019 to apply under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. The route is being replaced with the new Start-up visa.

What are the visa requirements?

  • You must have been awarded a Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree.
  • You will be required to demonstrate maintenance funds of £945 if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside. You have to show documentary evidence that you have held this full amount in your bank account for a consecutive 90 day period before you apply.
  • You must demonstrate entrepreneurial and business leadership skills and commitment to making to the venture a success.
  • You must have a credible, viable business idea that will be deemed to add to the UK economy.

How do I get endorsed?

Endorsement process is looking to verify that your business venture has the potential to make a valued contribution to the UK economy and that you are capable and willing to commit to making the business successful.

University endorsement processes may differ between institutions, but generally you should expect to submit an application with references in advance of a given deadline, followed by a business presentation or interview in front of a panel of experts.

If successful, you will be issued an endorsement letter which is valid for 3 months. During this time you must apply to the Home Office for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.

If you are successful, you may be required to maintain contact with the university.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is working in conjunction with a consortium of private companies and charities (‘Sirius Programme’) to identify and support international graduate entrepreneurs with new commercial ventures in the UK.

Successful applications will benefit from a support package to maximise their chances of success.

Applications are typically invited in the autumn for consideration.

What am I allowed to do on the visa?

The visa is relatively flexible, but the overarching requirement is that is you commit the majority of your time to the business. There are no restrictions on working hours or working for another employer, but this has to be considered against the visa condition of committing to the venture.

I’m a Tier 4 student – can I switch or do I have to leave the UK to apply?

With a Tier 1 visa, you can apply to ‘switch’ to the graduate entrepreneur visa. You will need top apply before your current leave expires.

Also note that you won’t be permitted to start work on your new business while you are still on a Tier 4 visa – self-employment is not permitted under the Tier 4 visa conditions. You must wait until the graduate entrepreneur visa is granted.

How long does the visa last?

The graduate entrepreneur visa is issued for a maximum period of 12 months. After this date, you cahve a couple of options. You could apply to extend the visa for a further 12months.

You could apply to switch to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. The benefit of this route is that you can apply with reduced investment funds of £50,000.

Can I apply to settle at the end of the visa?

The graduate entrepreneur visa doesn’t lead to UK settlement, but if you switch to the main Tier 1 Entrepreneur route, you may then become eligible after the qualifying period and provided you satisfy the eligibility requirements.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

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