Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur (Tier 1 GE)

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa is intended for recent graduates who want to set up a business in the UK.

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa is for graduates identified by their university as having developed an innovative business idea or entrepreneurial skill to establish one or more businesses in the West Midlands. 

Under this route recent graduates must be sponsored by either a UK Higher Education Institution or by UK Trade and Investment (a government department) under their Sirius Programme.  Aston has successfully applied to be a sponsor and we currently have 20 sponsored visas to offer until April 2016. 

To see the kind of businesses other graduates have started, click this link http://www.educationuk.org/global/sub/international-graduate-entrepreneurs/

Latest Changes
  • The Home Office have introduced an NHS surcharge for all non-EEA migrants who apply for a visa in excess of 6 months.  Please see the section "How do I apply" on this page for further information.

  • The amount you need to show for maintenance increased in July 2014  from £900 to £945 if applying inside the UK and from £1800 to £1890 if applying outside the UK.  You must be able to show that you have had this money for a 90 day period. Since 6th April 2014 the following changes applied:

  • The separation of endorsements for MBA graduates and for all other graduates has been abolished so that Aston University now has a total amount of general endorsements available for all students, MBA or otherwise.  

  • The Immigration Rules now allow the University to endorse you even if you have been awarded a degree from another institution and this was more than 12 months ago when you are applying for the visa.  Therefore you may be able to use a previous UK degree to apply for the visa rather than waiting until you have been awarded your degree from Aston, meaning you can apply earlier.  However you must be an Aston University student and the University will not sponsor students from a different institution. 
  • You can now switch from the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa into the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, as well as Tier 2 General and Tier 1 Entrepreneur.    
  • The cost of the application is now £456.   

The University's rules and procedures for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme can be found in our Policy Guidance which we urge all students to read before applying for this visa.  

The University expects all students on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme to adhere by these rules and regulations and to keep the University updated throughout their leave as a Graduate Entrepreneur migrant.

  • The Home Office have announced that it will be introducing a health surcharge for all non-EEA nationals coming to live in the UK in excess of six months. This new health surcharge will be introduced for all applications made after 6th April 2015, and will enable non-EEA nationals to gain access to the NHS.
  • At present non-EEA nationals coming to the UK have access to the NHS, as if they are permanent residents. By introducing this surcharge the Home Office want such individuals to make an appropriate financial contribution to the cost of healthcare in the UK.
  • The health surcharge will be £150 per year for students and £200 per year for all other individuals. Effectively, this will mean that all visa applications from 6th April 2015 will have to be accompanied by this amount, and it will be payable for the length of the UK visa being applied for. The amount will therefore be collected as part of the immigration application and the payment will be mandatory.
  • You must ensure that the NHS surcharge is paid before your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur application.  To calculate your NHS surcharge please use the NHS surcharge calculator
  • You can pay your NHS Surcharge using the Home Office link here.  
  • Once you have paid the NHS surcharge fee, you will then be given a "IHS" reference number which you need for your Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur application.

Exemption from the NHS Surcharge

Australian and New Zealand nationals do not have to pay the NHS surcharge fee as there is already a healthcare agreement in place with these nations. However, you will still have to complete the online surcharge process in order to obtain an exemption surcharge reference number (IHS reference number) necessary for your main immigration application.

Aston University students interested in applying for this visa must first be accepted onto the BSEEN, new start-up business project run at Aston University.  Please note that your business idea must be assessed by the BSEEN panel as being genuine and credible and you must be applying to set your business up in the West Midlands area.  If you would like to know more about BSEEN including how to apply please go to www.b-seen.biz.

Once accepted onto BSEEN, you must then apply for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa.  You will need to be issued with an endorsement from Aston University which you will need to apply for the visa. 

You must have been awarded your degree in order to apply for the visa so you must wait until you have your final results.  You no longer need to have been awarded your degree within the last 12 months on the date we issue you with an endorsement so you may be able to use a previous UK degree and apply earlier.

What points do I need?

You must get 95 points as follows:

25 Points - Valid endorsement from Aston University.

25 Points - The endorsement confirms that you and your business idea have been assessed and considered to be genuine and credible.

25 Points - For having been awarded your degree.

10 Points - English language requirement (having an endorsement will satisfy this requirement).

10 Points - Maintenance - £945 every day for a 90 day period ending no more than 31 days before you apply for the visa (outside the UK you will need to show £1890 for the 90 day period). 

You can either apply for Tier 1 GE visa whilst you are in the UK with a student, or Tier 4, visa or you can apply overseas, but you will need to show a higher maintenance amount.

Please note: if you have previously held a Tier 1 Post Study Work (PSW) visa, an International Graduate Scheme (IGS) visa, a Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme (SEGS) visa, or a Fresh Talent (Working in Scotland) visa you will unfortunately not be eligible to apply for the T1GE visa.

How long will the visa be granted for?

Successful applicants will be granted a 12 month visa.  There is the possibility of applying for a second 12 month visa if the business is making satisfactory progress and Aston University agrees to continue sponsoring you.

Working on the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa

Although you will be expected to spend most of your time setting up the business, the work conditions of this visa allow you to take employment.  The number of hours a week you can work is unrestricted. You are not allowed to work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including work as a sports coach).

According to the Immigration Rules, if you applied for your Tier 4 Student visa on or after 13 December 2012 you are allowed to begin work on your new business as soon as you have applied for your Tier 1 GE visa; whilst you are waiting for a decision. You will not be caught by the normal rule that stops Tier 4 students being self-employed.  If you applied for your Tier 4 Student visa before 13 December 2012 you should wait until the Home Office has granted you permission to stay under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur). This is because you remain subject to your student work conditions until your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) leave has been granted and student conditions prohibit self-employment. 

Time spent on a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa will not count towards settlement in the UK.

For assistance with your Tier 1 GE visa application and to discuss the 95 points you will need, please contact an International Student Adviser in the Hub Advice Zone on issu@aston.ac.uk, For UKVI information please click here.

How much money will I need to show?

If you want to apply for this visa in the UK you will need to show that you have had £945 available to you every day for a 90 day period ending no more than 31 days before you apply for the visa. 

If you apply outside the UK you must show that you have had £1890 available to you every day for a 90 day period ending no more than  31 days before you apply for the visa. 

What other documents do I need?

As a general rule you will need the following documents but please see an Adviser in The Hub for a detailed personalised list.

  • Passport(s)  ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­         

  • Biometric Residence Permit - if you have one    

  • IHS Reference Number (NHS Surcharge reference no)                   

  • 2 colour identical passport photos taken within the last month with your name on the back

  • Police Registration Certificate - if you are required to register with the Police 

  • Endorsement letter from Aston University  

  • Personal Bank Statement in your name showing at least £945 (£1890 if applying outside the UK) throughout a 90 day period which ends no more than 31 days before you apply.  

  • Letter from official sponsor ­giving consent for the application - if you have an official financial sponsor

Last checked and updated 27.04.2015 MA




Anyone interested in applying for this visa must first be accepted onto the BSEEN, new start-up business project run at Aston University.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa

For highly skilled migrants already in the UK, or wishing to come to the UK, to set up or take over a UK business

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