Graduate immigration: the Graduate Entrepreneur visa

 

The government keeps saying that whatever happens with Brexit, the UK is open to business and innovation. If you are a graduate with a business idea, then one means of entering the UK is to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa. 

 

A graduate is eligible to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa if they:

 
• Are a graduate; and 
• Have been officially endorsed as having a credible and genuine business idea; and 
• Are from outside the EEA and Switzerland; and
• Are able to meet the English language requirement; and 
• Have the required amount of savings. 
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors are an immigration law firm based in central London. The firm is recommended for immigration law and Business Immigration law in the legal directory, the Legal 500.
 
For more information on how OTS Solicitors can help you apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa or advice on any alternative aspect of personal or Business Immigration, law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

Who is classed as a graduate eligible to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa?

 
You may think that the definition of a “graduate” is straightforward but top London immigration solicitors will tell you that the Home Office has defined what the government means by the term “graduate” for the purposes of an application for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa.
 
You will need:
 
• A UK recognised bachelor’s degree; or
• A UK recognised  master’s degree; or
• A UK recognised PhD.
The degree needs to have been awarded before you receive your endorsement.
 
The best London immigration solicitors may think that the above list is pretty limited as you will not be eligible to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa if, for example, you hold:
 
• A professional or vocational qualification; or
• A postgraduate diploma; or
• A degree awarded in the UK by an overseas awarding body or a degree qualification awarded by an overseas campus of a UK institution.
Some immigration bodies argue that restricting the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa to graduates excludes the students who may have the brightest and most developed sense of entrepreneurial spirit having undertaken vocational courses in the UK.

 

Endorsement requirements for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa  

 
The best London immigration solicitors advise that in order to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa you have to have an endorsement from the Department for International Trade or from a UK higher education institution. If the endorsement is from a UK higher education institution then the institution has to be an authorised endorsing agent. The endorsement has to be issued within the past three months. 
 

What is considered a credible and genuine business idea?

 
The Home Office guidance on Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa applications states that for an applicant to secure a visa they must be able to establish that their endorsing body (the Department for International Trade or UK higher education Institution) considers that they:
 
• Have a genuine and credible business idea; and 
• Will spend the majority of their working time on the business; and 
• Are going to be engaged in a relevant business. For example, a business that develops property for resale or a business that manages or rents property will not receive points under the immigration points based system.
 

What business structure is necessary to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa?

 
Many graduates assume that in order to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa they need to set up their own company to meet eligibility criteria. The best London immigration solicitors will tell you that it is not necessary to set up a formal company. The Home Office will accept an application from a graduate who intends to pursue their business idea as a sole trader, in a partnership or having set up a formal company. The important thing is the quality of the business idea and endorsement from an approved agency.
 

How does a graduate secure endorsement from a university? 

 
If a university is an approved UK educational institution, it can invite students to apply for endorsement from them with a view to then applying for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa.
 
However, a word of warning as each approved UK educational institution only has a limited number of endorsements available to allocate to graduates. Accordingly, the quality of the business idea and plan will be vital in helping ensure that a graduate gets the necessary endorsement from their university.
 

How long does a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa last?

 
A Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa lasts for one year. The visa can be extended for another year.
 
top London immigration solicitors advise that in order to apply for an extension to the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa the applicant has to provide a new endorsement letter confirming that progress is being made with the business.
 
No one setting up a business in the UK will want to leave a successful business after a two-year period. The immigration rules allow an applicant to switch to a Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa at the end of the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa, assuming that the business is a success.
 

Who can switch to the Tier 1 Graduate entrepreneur visa?

 
You can apply to switch to the Graduate entrepreneur visa from one of the following visa categories:
 
Tier 2 (General) migrant who is working as a post-doctoral researcher; or
• Tier 4 student; or 
• Student nurse; or 
• Student who is re-sitting an examination or writing a thesis; or
• Postgraduate doctor or dentist.
 
If you are intending to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa, the important point to note is that the application to switch visa must be made prior to the expiry of the current visa.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors are a specialist in immigration law firm. The firm is recommended for immigration law and Business Immigration in the leading legal directory, the Legal 500. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in immigration law
 
OTS Solicitors have specialist Immigration Solicitors who advise entrepreneurs on their UK visa and settlement options. For more information about applying for a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa or any alternative aspect of personal or Business Immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

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