Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa

Overview

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa if you:

are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea
are from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
meet the other eligibility criteria

Getting endorsed

You must be endorsed by either:

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as part of the elite global graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirius)
a UK higher education institution (HEI) if it’s an authorised endorsing body

How long it will take

How long it takes depends on how you’ve been endorsed.
UKTI endorsement

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks if you’ve been endorsed by UKTI. You can apply for this visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK.

You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.
UK HEI endorsement

You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks if you’ve been endorsed by a UK higher education institution.
Fees

How much you pay for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa depends on your situation, where you are and how you apply.
Who you’re applying for

Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch by post in the UK
Yourself £335 £456
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £280 £401
All dependants £335 each person £456 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
How long you can stay

You can stay in the UK for one year on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.

You can apply to extend this visa for one more year.
What you can and can’t do

You can:

bring family members with you
extend your stay in the UK using this visa
switch into this visa from some other visa categories

You can’t:

get public funds
work as a doctor or dentist in training
work as a professional sportsperson, eg a sports coach
settle in the UK on this visa

Eligibility

The eligibility requirements for this visa depend on who is endorsing you.
Endorsement by a UK higher education institution (HEI)

You need all of the following to be eligible:

a UK-recognised bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD awarded before your date of endorsement
endorsement from an authorised UK higher education institution issued in the past 3 months
£945 in savings if applying from inside the UK, or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK – this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
to meet the English language requirement
permission to remain in the UK from your financial sponsor if they’re a government or an international scholarship agency and have paid your course fees and living costs in the past 12 months

You can’t apply with any of the following:

foundation degrees
honorary degrees
qualifications awarded in the UK by overseas awarding bodies
qualifications undertaken at overseas campuses of UK institutions
professional and vocational qualifications
postgraduate certificates or diplomas

Endorsement by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

You need all of the following to be eligible:

a degree qualification that’s recognised as being equal to a UK bachelor’s degree
to meet the criteria set by UKTI
endorsement from UKTI issued in the past 3 months
£945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK – this is to prove you can support yourself and you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
to meet the English language requirement

You don’t have to provide evidence that you have sufficient savings to support yourself if you have an endorsement from UKTI stating you’ve been awarded funding to cover your maintenance.

Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways. Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.

Exceptions

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
the Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Canada
Dominica
Grenada
Guyana
Jamaica
New Zealand
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
USA
Documents you must provide

The documents you need to provide depend on how you’re being endorsed.

Endorsed by a UK higher education institution (HEI)

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

a current passport or other valid travel identification
1 passport-sized colour photograph
a letter of endorsement from your UK HEI
bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK – you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

You’ll also need to provide the following if your degree was awarded by a different UK HEI than the one providing your endorsement:

an original certificate of your qualification or an accepted alternative
proof that you have knowledge of the English language

You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

Endorsed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

a current passport or other valid travel identification
2 passport size colour photographs
a letter of endorsement from UKTI
an original certificate of your academic qualification or an alternative from the documents guide
previous passports
a residence permit, ‘green card’ or valid visa if you’re not a national of the country from where you’re applying
proof that you meet the English language requirement
bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK – you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
a letter from NARIC that proves you can use your qualification to apply for this visa

You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.

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