Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa

What is a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa?

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa category provides international students who are graduating from UK universities with the opportunity to extend their stay in the UK after graduation for one year to establish a business. For the purpose of UK Immigration Rules, ‘business’ refers to all enterprises: sole-trader, partnership, or company that is registered in the UK.

Am I eligible?

Plymouth University will endorse only five students each year so it is very competitive. Before you go any further, can you answer YES to ALL the questions below?

  • Do you have an outstanding, genuine, credible business idea and entrepreneurial skills to develop as a start-up business?*
  • The business must be based in the UK but may trade internationally
  • Will you be able to apply within the UK?**
  • Will you be a graduate of University of Plymouth, awarded with a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD? (we do not sponsor non University of Plymouth applicants)
  • Will you be able to join the BETA programme? Latest entry date is end of January. 
  • Will you be able to meet the costs required to develop your business through the formation zone during your Tier 1 visa year?
  • Can you apply within 12 months of being awarded your qualification? (you can’t apply before your degree is awarded)
  • Do you currently have a valid Tier 4 visa or are you currently employed as a post-doctoral researcher with a Tier 2 Visa?
  • Do you or will you have a minimum of £945 in a bank account for 90 consecutive days immediately prior to making the Tier 1 application? This is required as proof that you have funds to support yourself. 

*you will not gain endorsement if your business is mainly property development, property management or related to setting up a restaurant or food outlet. You will also not gain endorsement if your business is to act as a recruitment agent to the University, to recruit international students from the UK or overseas.  Business ideas related to gambling, alcohol and military hardware development ideas will be unacceptable. Business ideas within the areas of creative industries, hi-tech, marine, environmental, advanced engineering, health and wellbeing are more likely to be considered.

**although the Home Office rules permit you to apply from outside the UK, we will only sponsor applications made from within the UK through University of Plymouth.

If you have answered NO to any of the above questions, we may not be able to sponsor you. Please contact international.advice@plymouth.ac.uk if you wish to check.

If you answered YES to all of the questions, carry on reading.

To apply under this visa category you will need a letter of endorsement from the University and this will be issued after successful completion of your degree and successful completion of the BETA programme and have been successful in your final business pitch.  You will also need to ensure that all University tuition fees are paid up to date.

How do you apply for the BETA programme?

For full information please visit our BETA Enterprise page.

How do I apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa?

Once we have received confirmation that you have passed your degree and you have successfully completed the BETA programme, please visit ISA and we will explain what you need to do. ISA is not regulated to give advice in the Tier 1 category but we can offer you guidance and information.

The documents you normally need are:

  • The online application form 
  • the application fee 
  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • two passport size colour photographs which meet the Home Office requirements
  • an original letter of endorsement from University of Plymouth
  • evidence of finances showing you have held the required maintenance funds in your personal bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

If you received official financial sponsorship for all tuition and living expenses, you should provide written permission from your sponsor giving their consent to you staying in the UK under the scheme. 

If any documents are not written in English or Welsh you will need to provide a certified translation. 

How much does a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa cost?

University of Plymouth does not require payment for the endorsement of its students. However, here are other costs you will need to pay:

Can I have dependants in this visa category?

Yes, you can. Each dependant must pay an application fee and the UK Immigration Health Surcharge. Additionally, you must show proof that there is money to support your dependants. If they have been in the UK for more than 12 months, you must have £630 for each dependant. If you have been in the UK for less than 12 months you must show £1260 for each dependent. The funds must be in a bank account for 90 consecutive days immediately prior to making the Tier 1 application.

What support will you receive after you have been granted your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa?

You will be given guidance to help you develop your business idea and you must engage in a 12 month process of monitoring and support from the University through our award-winning business incubator, Formation Zone.

For up to date and detailed information please look at the Gov.UK Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur webpage