Graduate Entrepreneur Visa & Extensions

Graduate Entrepreneurs

The UKBA has recently introduced a new immigration route to ensure a route in the migration system for students who have developed world class innovative ideas and want to stay to develop their business in Britain.

The UKBA will introduce a new Tier 4 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme for those who have been identified by UK universities as having developed world class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills, but who are not yet in a position to meet the full requirements of the current Tier 1(Entrepreneur) route. This new scheme will allow them to develop their business in the UK as well as encouraging economic growth.

There follows a brief guide outlining how an individual qualifies for leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a Graduate Entrepreneur under the points based system. If you require more detailed advice about your application Regent will be delighted to assist you.


Applicants will need to be in the UK and sponsored by the Higher Education Institution from which they have graduated.

For this reason, the UKBA has opened this scheme to all Higher Education Institution which are Highly Trusted Sponsors for the purpose of Tier 4 of the Points Based System.

The Higher Education Institutions must:
– Have an established process for identifying, nurturing and developing entrepreneurs amongst their undergraduate and post graduate population; Maintain contact with the migrant student and assess their progress at regular intervals (at least quarterly);

– Inform the UKBA if the student migrants are no longer participating in the scheme

The UKBA will give Higher Education Institutions the freedom to decide how to best identify the strongest candidates, but there will be an overall limit of 1,000 places for the first year. This limit will be divided equally between participating Higher Education Institution.

Successful applicants will be granted leave for 12 months initially, which may be extended for a further 12 months, providing sponsoring Higher Education Institution is satisfied with the progress they have made.


Once the visa has been granted, the graduate entrepreneur is expected to meet the following requirements:
– Spend majority of their time developing their business in the UK under the supervision of their Higher Education Institution sponsor; and
– They may also undertake other work for up to 20 hours a week to support themselves.

They will be able to sponsor dependants provided they meet the Tier 1 maintenance requirements Like Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), time in this category will not count towards the qualifying period for settlement in the UK.


At the end of the second year in this category, the migrant must either switch into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) or leave the UK.

The UKBA will lower the funds required to switch into the main Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route for this group from £200,000 to £50,000.

Note that the UKBA will also lower this threshold to migrants who are currently in Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) and have established their own business in the UK.

How Regent Can Help

For those who have substantial funds available, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is the best way to develop your business in the United Kingdom. In addition, the category does not restrict employment, consultancy, self employment or indeed study at a State or private educational establishment.

Regent undertake the entirety of the visa application process. We offer a complete service and guarantee that our visas are granted every time.

If you would like further information about the Leave to Remain in the United Kingdom as an entrepreneur or want to check whether this visa is the correct option for you please contact us.

What are Entrepreneur Visa Extensions?

An entrepreneur extension occurs, in most cases, 3 years after the initial Entrepreneur Application has been made and granted.

Essentially an extension application is when an applicant holding an entrepreneur visa must show that he has fulfilled all the requirements required of him and has collated the correct documents to
show this. He then obtains a further 2 years if successful on the entrepreneur visa.

What do I need to prove?

Entrepreneur extension applications require 4 main criteria to be proven, with an additional 5th criteria to be proven if the applicant wants accelerated settlement.

We set out a summary of the criteria now. Please note that the evidence required to prove that these criteria have been proven can be complex and legal advice or representation is recommended.
1. Has the 200,000 been invested into a new or existing company?
2. Has the new or existing company taken on the equivalent of 2 additional staff?
3. Has the entrepreneur registered as a director within 6 months of obtaining the visa?
4. Is the entrepreneur still registered as a director of any UK company currently?

These are the 4 requirements for an extension of entrepreneur status for another 2 years to make a total of 5 years and an application for permanent residency, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain.

What if I want Accelerated Settlement?

In order to apply for ‘accelerated settlement’ – ie Indefinite Leave immediately, the applicant should also prove a 5th optional criteria:
5. Has the entrepreneur’s company or companies reached a turnover of 5 million pounds over the 3 years or has he employed 10 persons across the 3 years.

Regent have experience in these applications, which although seem simple can be complex due to the mandatory nature of the documents which must be shown to prove the application.

How do I employ 2 persons?

The business that the entrepreneur is involved with must employ 2 persons. In an existing business these must be 2 additional employees over and above the amount of employees that were in the business in the previous year.

There must be 2 employees for a year or equivalent. These employees can include British or EEA nationals. They cannot include non-EEA nationals unless they have Indefinite Leave to Remain, even if they have permission to work.

The UKBA require 2 employees to be taken on over 1 year each or equivalent. This means that one post for 2 years would suffice as would multiple part time posts as long as the UKBA defined hours were made out.

The issues in Entrepreneur Visa Extensions are complex and detailed legal advice should be sought be before proceeding. Specific evidence must be provided. So even if the criteria has been made but, if the evidence is not provided the extension will not be granted.

How do I get ILR early?

The UKBA do not require the business to be profitable, in order for the extension to be granted. So long as the funds are invested and the correct number of employees are employed, the extension will be granted.

If however, the business performs exceptionally well, the UKBA will grant Indefinite Leave to Remain early. Instead of this being granted at 5 years, it will be granted at 3 years. This is called accelerated settlement. In order for this to be achieved, the business must turn over 5 million pounds within 3 years or alternatively, employ 10 additional persons.

The way the UKBA measure this is complex. Detailed legal advice should be sought on how this works and the very specific evidence required to achieve this.

What Can I Invest In?

The 200,000 investment must be made in an existing business or used to set up and spent within a new business. Please note there is no need to spend the sum of money at once, it can be spent by the business over the course of 3 years.

Whether in a new or existing business, the 200,000 must be spent by the entrepreneur, rather than left in a cash deposit. The spending must be in the UK and must be in the course of business. Essentially anything that can be claimed as an expense, can be taken from the 200,000.  So, for example, a restaurant can use the 200,000 on marketing, furniture, staff and insurance costs. They can even claim spending on food stock and utility bills.

The business can be in any sector and using any business model.

The exception to this are businesses involved in residential property or property management. These cannot be invested in. Where however the business owns a property where the business trades from (similar to the restaurant example above) the cost of the property can be claimed. 

These issues can be complex and detailed legal advice should be sought be before proceeding. It should also be noted that it is not enough simply to meet the rules criteria described above, there should also be specific evidence provided, even if the rules have been made out, if the evidence is not provided the extension will not be granted.

Your role in the business

What role must entrepreneurs play in the business? As our immigration lawyers can further advise, the UKBA requires that the person takes the role of at least a Company director if the business is
registered at Companies House.

This manifests itself in two ways.
1. The Entrepreneur must register his business within 6 months of arrival in the UK. This can be the date when the visa was issued, but so long as the passport is stamped upon entry, the UKBA will allow a greater period of time – 6 months after the date of arrival. Please note that this is for the registration of the company, rather than the commencement of trading.

2. You must also remain a director of the company during the period you are relying upon as the date when the two employees are employed and the investment is made.

3. Additionally, you must also be a director of any company at the time of the extension.

These issues are complex, and legal advice should be sought.