International: Graduate Entrepreneur Visa

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa

Students with camera
Image courtesy of UAL

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa is aimed at international students who have successfully completed a degree course in the UK and wish to remain in the UK to develop a genuine and credible business idea. To qualify for the visa you will need to be sponsored/endorsed by UAL. The University can sponsor up to 20 graduates a year on this scheme.

Who is eligible?

Any international graduate who has been awarded a Bachelor, Masters or PhD degree from UAL.

In addition:

  • The business should have the potential to add to the UK economy. 
  • You will be expected to demonstrate the entrepreneurial skills and commitment to develop the business. 
  • If endorsed, you must be committed to spending the majority of your working time on developing the business idea. 
  • If you are applying within the UK you must be switching into this visa category from the Tier 4 student visa. You must apply to switch prior to the expiry of your current visa. 
  • You cannot previously have been granted immigration leave in the UK under Tier 1 (Post Study Work), the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme, International Graduates Scheme or Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme. 
  • For your visa application, you will be required to demonstrate £945 if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside and must have held this amount in your bank account for a consecutive 90 day period before you apply.

For full details of the requirements, read the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Policy Guidance document, which is available from the Home Office website.

How long can you stay?

Visas are valid for 12 months, with the possibility of renewal for a further 12 months subject to satisfactory progress. You can apply for your dependants to live in the UK while you hold this visa. After completing your time on the Graduate Entrepreneur visa, you will be eligible to switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur with reduced investment funds of £50,000.

What are the visa compliance requirements?

  • You may only start your business once you have made the visa application. This is because a Tier 4 visa does not allow you to work on a self-employed basis. 
  • There are no restrictions on working hours or working for another employer while you develop your business. However, spending the majority of your working time on your business idea is a condition of the visa. 
  • You will be assigned a University contact who you will be required to meet once every quarter to discuss the progress of your business. The University contact will also determine whether the business is making satisfactory progress in order to be supported for a further 12 months. 
  • Adhere to the conditions set by the University and UK Visas and Immigration (if you do not keep contact or breach the conditions of your leave, the University must report this to UKVI).

Selection criteria and panel

Endorsement by the University is subject to a presentation before a selection panel. The panel assesses applications against the following criteria:


Weak = 1

Moderate = 2

Strong = 3

Clarity of marketLittle or no understanding of market and customers. Lacks any evidence.

Some understanding and analysis of market and potential customers. Some factual support.

Clear and compelling, fact-based description of market, including testing the financial viability of the idea.
Viability of product or serviceUnclear how product or service will work or what value it gives the customer.Sound explanation of how product or service will work but limited idea of future generations or product line/service extensions.Convincing story of how the product or service will work and capability of diversifying into new areas.
Competitive positionPoor description of existing competitors. No obvious reason for continued growth. No evidence of sustainability.Adequate coverage of existing competitors. Some issues relating to competitive edge and/ or sustainability.Existing competitors clearly described. Clear edge for the proposed idea. Clear evidence of sustainability.
Business modelUnclear how the business would generate revenue.Some explanation of how the business will make money but further development needed.Clear and convincing business model, with a sound understanding of start-up costs and revenue generation.  
Reason to be in UKUnclear why the business would benefit from being located in the UK.Some evidence to support business being located in UK.Clear and convincing argument for the business to be located in the UK.
Skills and experienceNo convincing evidence to show applicant has the right skills or experience to turn idea into a viable business.Some relevant skills and experience and/ or some awareness of skill gaps and consideration of how to address these.Clear evidence that skills and experience are perfectly matched and/ or evidence of partners/ team members who will address any skill gaps.
PresentationRambling structure, missing information, typographical errors, excessive use of superlatives.Clear and concise. Doesn't force you to skim-read irrelevant detail.Well-organised. No irrelevant sections, no careless errors, all superlatives supported.

How can I apply for endorsement? 

  1. You will need to complete the UAL GE Visa Endorsement application form 16-17 (Word 32KB) and submit it via the online application portal.
  2. If your application meets the eligibility requirements, you will be invited to present your idea to the panel on one of the dates listed below. If you are overseas, the interview will be conducted via video conference. 
  3. The decision of the panel is final. There is no appeal process.
  4. If the panel approves endorsement, you will be required to demonstrate you meet the financial requirements for the visa application. If applying inside the UK, you must have held £945 for a consecutive 90 days period. If you are applying outside the UK, you must have held £1,890 for a consecutive 90 day period. 
  5. The University will issue an endorsement letter to successful candidates. The endorsement letter is valid for 3 months in which time you must apply for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. A copy of this letter is also sent to the Home Office.
  6. To apply for the visa, you will need to send the completed Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur application form, the University-issued endorsement letter and the original financial evidence to the Home Office along with the application fee. An adviser from the Student Advice Centre will be able to help with your application.
  7. Once you have received the outcome of your application, notify the Tier (GE) visa programme manager. You will be required to bring in your visa for copying onto your record.

When can I apply?

The next interviews will be held in 2018 (exact date to be confirmed). You will be able to submit your application closer to the time, so please keep monitoring this website for any updates. You must submit your application by the deadline specified in order to be invited to an interview.

If you wish to apply for the visa from within the UK, you will need to take into consideration your current visa expiry when deciding when to submit your application. You should allow at least 1 month after the interview and before your visa expires to be able to take your application forward.

Interview dateApplication deadline

February 2018

Please note: 

  • Tier 1 (GE) visa endorsement is now evaluated in a separate process and no longer via the SEED Fund.
  • You do not need to have been awarded your degree before submitting an application. If your application is successful, visa endorsement will be conditional on you successfully completing your degree.
  • Foundation degrees, postgraduate certificates and diplomas are not acceptable qualifications for this scheme.

To apply:

Complete the application form (sample form below) and submit it via this website once the scheme re-opens. A SUBMIT button will appear in the top right corner of this page.

UAL GE Visa Endorsement application form 16-17 (Word 32KB)
Tier (GE) visa: evaluation criteria (Word 27KB)

Related links

UKVI: Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Guidance
UKVI: Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Full Policy Guidance