In April 2012 the British Government made many changes to the UK Immigration Rules. These included the introduction of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa category for students who have been identified by the UK higher education institutions they studied at as having world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills. After graduation, these individuals will be able to extend their stay in the UK in order to develop and establish a business here.
There is a limit of 1,000 places available in this visa category for the year running from 06 April 2012 to 05 April 2013, and each of the participating institutions has a maximum of 10 endorsements available. Institutions who wished to take part had to prove that they have established processes for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs among their under- and postgraduates. The list of approved higher education institutions who can now endorse graduates wishing to apply under this route can be found here.
Individuals who are interested in this visa must bear in mind that they can only apply from inside the UK, and they must be switching from one of the following categories:
- Tier 4 Migrant;
- Student nurse;
- Student re-sitting an examination;
- Student writing up a thesis;
- Postgraduate doctor or dentist; or
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant.
Applicants will have to meet the requirements for this category, which include presenting a letter of endorsement from an approved UK higher education institution, having a UK bachelors or postgraduate degree and meeting the maintenance requirements.
Successful applicants will be granted permission to stay in the UK for up to one year. This can be extended for a further year provided the sponsoring institution confirms the individual has made satisfactory progress in developing a business since their leave was granted and will most likely qualify for leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) within the next 12 months.