Page:Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme

Last modified: 18.12.18

What is the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme?

The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme is for recent graduates who have been officially endorsed by the University of Sheffield as having a genuine and credible business idea. You must be from outside the EEA and meet other eligibiity criteria (see below).

The University has been allocated 20 places by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) per year (1.4.2018 to 31.3.2019). It is hoped that further endorsements will be made available from April 2019 but this is not yet guaranteed.

If you have a business proposal, you can compete to join the scheme.

If you are successful, and endorsed by the University, you will be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa for 12 months, during which time you will have the opportunity to develop your new business idea. The visa may be extended for a further 12 months if significant progress is made.

(If you are a PhD student you may may also want to consider the Tier 4 Doctorate Extension Scheme which also allows you to set up in business.  You can also apply for the Tier 1 GES after holding the Tier 4 DES visa.)


How do I apply for an endorsement from the University?

The deadline for applications is now closed for 2018/19. The University will advertise the next round of applications for Endorsement when it is confirmed that the scheme will run for 2019-20, this should be by April 2019. In the past an application deadline has been scheduled for June, endorsements are then offered to those who have applied and are deemed to have the strongest and most credible business ideas and business plans. A further round may take place later in the year subject to availbility of places. To apply for 2019/20 you will need to have been awarded your degree or expect to be awarded your degree by the end of March 2020.

For further information about the application for endorsement process, please see  here 

An overview of Tier 1 GES visa can be found here

Full Tier 1 GES Guidance can be found here

 Details of Entrepreneurship/Business Support available at the University of Sheffield can be found here


How do I apply for the Tier 1 GES visa?

1. Apply for endorsement from the University as above.

2. If successful you will then need to make an appointment to see International Adviser at Student Advice Centre (SAC) for an immigration eligibiility check. Email to make an appointment.

3. If eligible you will then be able to request an Endorsement Letter from the University via the International Student Support team.

4. When you have the Endorsement Letter you can complete the application form.  Form and document check is available with International Student Adviser (SAC).

5. Full guidance is available here. You can now apply online for this visa.


What is the eligibility critieria ?

  1. You must have Endorsement for business idea from the University of Sheffield.
  2. The endorsement letter must be dated after you have been awarded your degree. (N.B UKVI endorsements run from April to March, you will need to have been awarded your degree by the end of March 2020 to apply for the next round of endorsements.)
  3. You you must apply within 3 months of endorsement and only bachelors, masters or PhD's are acceptable quailifications.
  4. You must have £945 (plus £630 for any dependant) in your own bank account, to make application you must maintain this for 90 days to make application in UK.
  5. To apply in UK you must have current Tier 4 visa (It is possible to switch to this visa from other types of leave to remain, check with SAC adviser).
  6. You can apply from outside UK if you do not have current leave to remain in the UK but you will need £1890 in a bank account held for 90 days.
  7. You cannot apply if you have previously held a Tier 1 (post study) visa.
  8. You must meet English language requirement. (This will usually be met through having a degree taught in English or current leave and the ednorsement letter will prove this).
  9. You must have written consent to remain in the UK from your financial sponsor if they are a government or an international scholarship agency and have paid your course fees and living costs in the past 12 months.


Can I have dependants on this visa?

You can apply for a Tier 1 PBS dependant visa at the same time as you apply for your visa or you can apply for your dependants to join you later.

A dependant is your husband, wife or partner and/or a child under 18.

You will need to show £630 (in UKK) or £1260 (outside UK) for each dependant and it must be held for 90 days.

Further information and application forms are available here

Help is available with dependant visa applications from the Student Advice Centre.

If successful you will be initially granted a visa of 12 months with a further extension of 12 months. During this period you will be able to focus on developing your business idea and will also be allowed to work full time hours to support yourself.

It will be possible to apply under this scheme from outside the UK, as long as you have been awarded a UK degree. You will need to show £1,890 if you apply outside the UK.

In order to get the further 12 months endorsement you will need to undergo an assessment by the University to confirm whether you have made satisfactory progress with your business idea.  Further details on the process and deadlines is here.


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


1. First you must get an endorsement from the University (see above). If USE are happy with your business idea you will be asked to attend the Student Advice Centre for an immigration eligibility check before the endorsement letter is produced.

2. You then need to have been awarded your degree. This means if you are an undergraduate you can apply for your Tier 1 GES visa  in July or if you are a Masters student in late November/early December. 

3. You will need to show you have maintained £945 funds in your bank account for 90 days preceding the application.

4. If you apply for entry clearance outside the UK you need not have studied in the UK with Tier 4 or other student immigration permission.

5. You can access the forms here. The application fee for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applications in the UK £465. The entry clearance fee is £342.  You must also pay an immigration healthcare charge before you can submit your visa application.


What help can I get with my application?

 If you receive an endorsement you can get a one-to-one check of your visa application and supporting documents at the Student Advice Centre. You will be responsible for sending off the form and documents to UKVI.

See here for list of documents. We also advise you to look at the Tier 1 GES guidance.


What does it cost to apply ?

Fees are subject to change, so please always check prior to application

How much you pay for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa depends on your situation, where you are and how you apply. Fees correct as of 18.12.18.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Extend or switch by post in the UK
Yourself £363 £493
If you’re a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £308 £438
All dependants £363 each person £493 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

This is £200 per year per person but rising to £400 from 19.12.18.


What you can and can't do on Tier 1 GES?

You can work but not as a dentist or doctor in training or professional sportsperson

There is no actual limit on the hours you can work BUT your primary purpose for being in UK is to set up you business.

You will need to have regular contact with the University to check that you are making progress with your business. Current contact for University is Darren Chouings. Email The University will provide further information about this requirement.


Can I extend this Visa?

If the University believe you are making satisfactory progress with the business you can be endorsed for a further year, you will need to apply to extend this visa.

After 2 years on Tier 1 GES you may be able to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa

We cannot advise you in relation to Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas but would recommend that you seeek legal advice with this type of application. It is also recommended that you do familiarise yourself with the eligibility criteria and requirements for this visa as you will need to be able to meet these requirements at the end of the the two years on Tier 1 GES scheme, should you wish to stay and continue developing your business in the UK.