Complete information about UK immigration Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa

UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa - An introduction 


This route is for non-EEA students who have UK (bachelor, master or PhD) degree, meet the required endorsement and who want to set up one or more UK businesses. The purpose of this route is to allow them to give UK qualified students a chance to become a successful entrepreneur in the UK.

In order to apply for a visa under Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category an applicant must obtain an endorsement from a qualifying UK Higher Educational Institution EI) or the Department for International Trade which confirms that the student has been identified as having developed world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills.
Thus this route is mainly for graduate students who have a genuine and credible business idea they wish to put into practice in the UK.

 Eligibility (Visa Requirements) 

You need will need to meet all of the following eligiblility criteria:

  • You must have a UK-recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD, awarded to you before your date of endorsement

  • You must have received endorsement from an authorised UK higher education institution issued in the past 3 months

  • You must meet the English language requirement

  • You must have £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK, or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK - to support yourself in the UK, at least for 90 days before you apply

  • You must have paid your course/tuition fees and living costs in the past 12 months

  • You must be able to get in minimum required points (95) at the point score

Required UK Qualification

In order to be considered a qualification as a UK recognized degree at bachelor’s, master’s or PhD level, it must have been awarded by a UK recognized body. All UK universities and a few higher education colleges are recognized bodies. 
Click here to see the UK government recognized education institutions.a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for this route. Points are not awarded for a qualification which is of equivalent level to, but not actually a degree.
However, you cannot use the following qualifications for awarding points:
Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) even if they were from a recognzied eduaction institution:

  • Foundation degrees

  • honorary degrees

  • Qualifications awarded in the UK by overseas awarding bodies

  • Professional and vocational qualifications

  • Postgraduate certificates and diplomas.

Qualification Endorsement 

The qualification on whose basis you intend to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa must be endorsed either by:

  • The Department for International Trade (DIT) as part of the elite global graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirius), OR

  • A UK (recognized) higher education institution (HEI), if it’s an authorised endorsing body. This can be the university from where you passed the degree or another such British university, authorized endorsing body.

English language

You must have a minimum standard of English language to score 10 points.You will meet the English language requirement if you
have an endorsement from the same HEI that awarded your degree.
If you have an endorsement from a HEI which did not award your degree, or you have an endorsement from DIT, you can still meet the English language requirement by:

  • being a national of a majority English speaking country

  • passing an English language test

  • holding a degree, taught in English, and which is equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above.

Maintenance Funds 

To meet the (maintenance) financial requirement for this visa you need to have £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK, or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK - to support yourself in the UK. This amount should be in your account for at least for 90 days before you apply.
Similarly you also need to show maintenance funds for your dependents accompanying you. If you’ve been in the UK for more than 12 months, you need to have £630 for each dependant. You must have £1,260 for each dependent in case you are applying from outside the UK.

Documents Required

Click here to see the official list of the required document, needed to apply for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa.

 Applying for the Visa 

Follow the following steps to apply for this visa:

 1.   Prepare your documents

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

A current passport or other valid travel identification

  • Your CV

  • A business plan

  • Proof that you meet the English language requirement (please see above for details)

  • Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test*

  • A Police Charcter certificate from any country you have stayed in for a total of 12 months or more over the last 10 years

  • Evidence of the investment funds available to you (please see above for details)

  • Evidence that you can support yourself during your stay (please see above for details)

  • Documents regarding your marital status and your children

  • Documents about your current profession and its relevancy to your business plan


NOTE: For those documents that aren’t in English or Welsh, you must provide a certified translation of the documents.

*You will have to provide a tuberculosis (TB) test report if you’re coming to the UK for more than 6 months and are resident in any of the listed countries.

 2.   Apply online for  Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa

You will have to apply online for this visa. For this you will have to get yourself registered to apply for the visa. In case you are already registered (you have applied previously), then you need to simply login. In both cases, as the next step, you have to apply online. Click here to go to their official website to apply for the UK visa.

 3.   Pay the Healthcare Surcharge

You will need to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

In case you are making an immigration application online, then you pay the healthcare surcharge as part of the application process. You must complete the payment procedure and return to the online immigration application in less than 30 minutes, otherwise you may be logged out. However if you are making an immigration application at a premium service centre, you can pay the surcharge when you book an appointment. However, you have to pay the healthcare surcharge by debit or credit card only.

Click here to check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

 4.   Pay the Visa Fee

The visa fee for the main applicant (if you are applying online or by post) is £349/- and £349/- for each dependents.  All visa fees are nonrefundable in case your visa application has been processed. You will have to pay the visa fees by debit or credit card only. You pay this visa fee as the part of your online visa application process. So keep your credit card (open to make online transaction) ready before you apply for the visa.

 5.   Go for Biometric​ for the Rest of the Visa Process

As a  part of your visa procedure, you need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre . For this you will need to book an appointment as part of the  online visa application process. You can choose to have an appointment for biometrics at a visa centre close to you, out of the given choices. You need to present a hard copy of the visa application (submitted online) along with all supporting documents, when you go for biometrics. 

Please keep in mind you can book an appointment for biometrics at a visa centre ONLY after you have paid visa fee in your online visa application. ​

 7.   After you apply

Wait for a reply from the British High Commission / British Embassy. You can be notified both by e-mail and the phone.  In most of the cases, you are called for a visa interview to the nearest British High Commission / British Embassy. In this interview, you can be asked detail questions regarding your previous work and immigration history (if any) and also about your proposed business plan. 

 Visa Details 

Here is what you can and cannot do on this visa:​

  • You can travel in and outside the country.

  • You can bring your dependents to live with you in the UK.

  • You can extend your visa after one year.

  • You can switch to this visa from another visa category. 

  • You cannot use public funds.

  • You cannot work as a doctor or dentist in training.

  • You cannot work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach

  • You cannot settle in the UK on this visa (unless you switch to another category)

How long the visa processing takes

Depending upon how well-prepared your application was and from which country you are applying, the visa processing can take from 4 to 12 weeks, depending how you have been endorsed.

How long the visa lasts

You can come to the UK with a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa for one year. You can apply to extend this visa for another year.

 Visa Tips 

  1. Make sure that your degree (on whose basis you are applying for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa) is recognized in the UK as from a HEI.

  2.  Before you apply, make sure that you meet the required points in the point scores system.

  3. Make sure that your that you get your qualification endorsed before you apply for the visa.  

  4. Always get an assessment of your case for a certain visa class even before making any decision.  

  5. Try to use the services of a professional immigration consultant before applying for any step of the visa process. This is because if you make a big mistake in your application, no one can help you after you have lodged this application.