Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

This scheme is for graduates who have been identified by the institution where they studied as having developed world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills. This scheme will enable graduates to stay in the UK after graduation, to establish one or more businesses based in the UK with the support of their institution. There is a limit of 1000 places per year, with a maximum of 10 places per participating institution. You will be granted leave for one year but this can be extended by a further year, giving a maximum of two years under this route.

Can I apply?

To be considered you must be a current student of the University of South Wales or Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama who is going to be awarded a degree or PhD in the next two months OR (in certain circumstances*) have successfully completed your degree at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama or have been sponsored under Tier 4 visa by the University of South Wales and been awarded a degree or PhD within the last 12 months. The graduate must have genuine, credible and innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills which have the potential to become successful businesses within one, or at most, 2 years from commencement.

You can apply under this scheme from within the UK or from overseas if you currently hold or last held one of the following visas:

  • Tier 4 migrant visa
  • Student visa
  • Student nurse
  • Student writing up a thesis
  • Student re-sitting an examination
  • Postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant
  • Tier 2 (General) migrant

You cannot apply if you have ever had a visa under one of the following schemes:

  • Tier 1 (Post Study work)
  • Fresh talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • International Graduates Scheme or its predecessor the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme
  • previously been granted leave as a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) more than once
  • been in breach of immigration laws, except any period of overstaying in the UK for a period of 14 days or less that will be disregarded

How many points do I need to apply?

To apply under this scheme you will need a total of 95 points. You need 75 points in attributes, 10 points for English Language and 10 points for maintenance. The Home Office website has further information about how you score the 95 points and the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Policy Guidance can also be accessed there.

When can I apply?

You will be able to apply as soon as you receive your official results from the university. You will also need to have a Letter of Endorsement from the University before you apply, which must state that you have been awarded a UK recognised Bachelors or Masters degree, or a PhD within 12 months of the Endorsement Letter being issued.

How much maintenance will I need to show?

You will score 10 points for showing that you have enough money for a minimum period of time in your account to cover your living expenses. In order to meet this requirement you need to show that you have had the correct amount of money in your account for at least 90 consecutive days. The amount you need to show is £945 if you are applying in the UK or £1890 if you are applying overseas. Bank statements used in this application must be less than one month old on the date you submit your application and must meet the requirements as set by the Home Office. You can use an account in your name only or a joint account if you are one of the account holders. You cannot use an account in the name of your parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

The University’s responsibilities to the Home Office under this scheme:

(i) to have an established process for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs amongst its undergraduate and post-graduate population;

(ii) to ensure that the graduate entrepreneur: has a genuine, credible and innovative business idea and will spend the majority of their working time on developing the business venture.

(iii) to maintain contact with the graduate entrepreneur and assess progress at regular intervals (at least quarterly);

(iv) to report to the Home Office:

  • if a graduate entrepreneur does not keep in contact, such that they miss one or more of the regular reviews of their progress without the University’s authorisation;
  • if the University has evidence to suggest that a graduate entrepreneur is breaching the conditions of this scheme;
  • if a graduate entrepreneur is no longer participating in the scheme.

Conditions of the graduate entrepreneur’s extended stay in the UK.

Successful applicants will be granted leave by the Home Office to remain in the scheme for 12 months initially, which may be extended for a further 12 months upon further application. [In order to remain in the UK beyond that point the graduate entrepreneur would be expected to make an application to the Home Office to switch into the main Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route by the end of the second year as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur). At this point the University would not be involved in the application process.]

Applicants who are granted leave to remain in the UK in the category of graduate entrepreneur on the basis of the University’s endorsement will be able to work for their business and to do other work for up to 20 hours a week to support themselves whilst they are developing their business. In line with Tier 4 and other Tier 1 routes, they will not be permitted to work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.

Application process.

(i) You, as the applicant, must, first, indicate your intention to apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme by emailing the Immigration & International Student Advice team. Please include details of the course you are/have studied at this University and your student ID number. You will then be asked to supply your personal (including immigration) information and a brief overview of your business plan. If you are successful in getting through the first round you will then need to supply a more developed business plan including detailed financial forecasts. Applications may be submitted before you complete your studies but the application process cannot be completed until your degree is awarded.

Alternatively, you may make an appointment to attend a business surgery without a business plan if you are seeking additional information. Details may be found on the Student Enterprise website

(ii) The business plan will be reviewed by the University and the University will check to ensure that the applicant has maintained a good standing with the University, with no disciplinary or other problems surfacing in relation to their time at the University and that there are no outstanding debts owed to the University.

(iii) If stage 2 above is satisfied, the University will endorse your application and
• seek explicit written permission from you to contact the Home Office on your behalf for the purpose of endorsing your application under this scheme.
• once you give this permission in writing to the University, the University will provide you with a letter endorsing your application.
• you will then need to apply directly to the Home Office for further leave to remain in the UK under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme. Please note that the Immigration & International Student Advice Team, will help you with your application.

Only 1 application per student will be considered.

Ongoing support for graduate entrepreneurs

Once approval is given by the Home Office, you, as the graduate entrepreneur, will be expected to work on your business from the University’s incubation facility or another location as determined by the University, for the duration of the scheme. As a condition of the University’s ongoing support, you will be expected to attend regular sessions with a University business mentor to review business progress.

Can I bring my family to the UK on this visa?

You can apply to bring your family to the UK as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, but you will need to show enhanced maintenance to prove that you are able to support your family whilst they are here. You will need to show £1260 for each dependant in your or your dependant’s account for 90 consecutive days. Bank statements used in this application must be less than one month old on the date you submit your application and must meet the requirements as set by the Home Office.

Further information

For further information please check the Home Office website

*Previous students may be considered according to; 1) conditions stated above being met including currently being in the UK under a qualifying visa category and 2) according to the availability of limited places.