FAQ’s: UK Graduate Entrepreneur Visa

What is the UK Entrepreneur visa for graduates?

This is a category which allows UK Higher Education institutions to retain non-EU graduates who have developed world class innovative ideas, or entrepreneurial skills, to extend their stay in the UK after graduation to establish one or more businesses in the UK.

Who is this visa for?

This route is for graduates who have been identified by UK Higher Education Institutions as having developed world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills, to extend their stay in the UK after graduation in order to establish one or more businesses in the UK.

What are the benefits of this visa?

  • Graduates do not require an employer sponsor, but rather an endorsement by an approved UK educational institution
  • Migrant graduates with exceptional entrepreneurial skills may stay in the UK for up to two years
  • Unlike other categories, this visa must applied for from within the UK.

When can I apply for this visa?

There are only limited spaces under this visa program, so any applications should be submitted as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

There is a limit of 1,000 places for each of the periods 6 April 2012 to 5 April 2013 and 6 April 2013 to 5 April 2014.

What is the difference between this visa and other similar categories?

The difference between the Graduate and the standard UK Entrepreneur route is that this visa allows an applicant to apply from the UK upon finishing their studies, whereas other applicants must apply from a country where they hold permanent residency.

There is no investment requirement for this category, whereas the applicant is required to have £200,000 to invest in the UK business or businesses for the UK entrepreneur route.

What steps are involved in the process?

  1. We check your eligibility for the UK Entrepreneur visa through an initial consultation
  2. Prepare all documents to be submitted (we will provide a checklist)
  3. Submit application for UK Graduate Entrepreneur visa
  4. Residency is granted for an initial period of one year
  5. Applicants may extend for a total of up to two years.

What are the basic requirements for this visa?

  • An applicant should hold a recognised degree at Bachelors, Masters or PhD level, awarded by a recognised UK body
  • Applicants must request an endorsement from a UK Higher Education institution
  • The endorsement must confirm that the UK Higher Education institution has assessed the applicant and the applicant’s business idea
  • The applicant must meet the maintenance and English language requirements
  • There is no recourse allowed to public funds
  • The applicant is not entitled to seek employment except working for the business(es) the applicant has established; and other employment of no more than 20 hours per week
  • No employment as a Doctor or Dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).

Can this visa be extended?

Yes. You may apply to extend your visa for an additional 1 year, provided that the UK higher educational institute does not withdraw your endorsement and does not lose its endorsement status.

Can this visa be extended?

A successful applicant may extend their stay for a further 12 months, provided that the sponsoring Higher Education Institution is satisfied with the progress they have made.

The UK higher educational institute that endorsed your stay:

  • Must maintain your endorsement
  • Must not lose its status as an endorsing institution for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrants;
  • Must not lose its highly trusted status under Tier 4 of the points-based system (for whatever reason);
  • Must not cease to be an A-rated sponsor under Tier 2 or Tier 5 of the points-based system because its Tier 2 or Tier 5 sponsor licence is downgraded or revoked by us.

What are my options after 2 years of extension?

At the end of the second year in this category, the applicant must either switch to a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa or leave the UK.  The investment requirement is lowered for these applicants from £200,000 to £50,000.

What funds must I have to qualify for this visa?

There is no investment requirement to qualify for this route.

Can I apply with a business partner?

You cannot apply with a business partner through this visa category.

Can I use the NHS without being charged?

You will be able to access the NHS on the same basis as UK nationals once running your business through this visa category.

What is the processing time for the UK Graduate Entrepreneur visa?

This will vary depending on the individual circumstances.

Must I pass an English test in order to qualify for this program?

The following will allow you to satisfy the English language requirement:

The UK Higher Education Institution has awarded a United Kingdom recognised bachelor’s or postgraduate degree; or

  • Your previous grant of leave is a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and;
  • You have an endorsement for an extension application from the same institution

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