Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa is an immigration category which allows graduates with world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills to extend their stay in the UK after graduation, by establishing and developing one or more businesses in the UK under the supervision of their academic institution.
You can read the full Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa Policy Guidance document on the UK Visas and Immigration's (UKVI) website, and the UKCISA website.
How do I apply?
The King's endorsement process has three stages:---
Stage 1: Written application---Please fill out the ONLINE APPLICATION FORM and submit online. If you have any questions please email email@example.com.
Applications will be assessed by an expert panel and a shortlist created for stage 2 interviews.
Stage 2: Interview---Candidates who are successful in stage 1 will be invited to an in person interview.
It is worth noting that being successful at this point does not mean that you will receive the Visa. Instead, it means that you have been nominated by King's College London to be interviewed by the UKVI.---
Stage 3: UKVI application---All candidates who are successful in stage 2 will be responsible for completing the UKVI application process. Further details of this process will be shared with applicants who successfully reach this stage
When can I apply?
The application process for this visa, which is endorsed by King’s College London, is led by the King's Entrepreneurship Institute. There are three windows of application per year.
The next application date is 15 March - 15 April 2019
The ideal time for you to make an application for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa is in the term preceding you current visa’s expiration date.
You must be a non-European taught final year student or graduate to be eligible to apply. See more information on eligibility here.
Immigration permission in the UK is granted for one year.
For the duration of the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa immigration permission, King’s will ensure appropriate monitoring and evaluation of your business. Monitoring begins from the date the visa recipient is awarded their visa.
Application Form (Word doc)
The application form that you'll need to fill in to apply for the visa.
Application Form guidance document (Word doc)
A guide to completing the application form, which should help give you an idea of what information you need to give in each section of the form.
One of the greatest challenges as an international student was to secure a working visa in order to stay after my studies. Particularly because my goal was not to get a job but to start my own business. King's help and support, not only with the Visa Sponsorship Application but also for the development of the business itself has been invaluable. I wouldn't been able to be in this position without the Entrepreneurship Institute’s help.
YeeMun Thum received endorsement from King’s College London for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa in 2014 to build Scarlett of Soho, the world’s first designer eyewear subscription service. YeeMun talks to Tom Davies about her experiences of the Tier 1 application process, building a startup in the UK, and meeting Richard Branson along the way!
How did you find out about Tier 1?
During the course of my Masters, I’d already been toying with the idea of starting a company that could compete in the UK eyewear market. I am Malaysian, and as a result was starting to look at visa regulations that might allow me to stay on as an entrepreneur, to build the idea of Scarlett of Soho into an actual business.
What was your experience of the application process?
It was a pretty rigorous application process! It began with an initial application form, and ended with an in-person interview. I found the application process quite useful, as it was a great chance to look at Scarlett of Soho in great depth and detail, and having a business plan in place helped crystallise the idea further. After getting endorsement from King’s, the rest of the application process was relatively painless, taking a mere month to complete.
What has the visa allowed you to do that you wouldn’t have been able to do without it?
It allowed me the breathing room I needed to see if the idea in my head might actually be an industry-disrupting business, without needing to worry about raising a large amount of initial investment. As a result, as a team we were able to accept a place in one of the UK’s top pre-seed accelerator programmes, Ignite, which has been an amazing experience in itself. I’ve written about what a day in an accelerator looks like.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I wear glasses, and after spending some time in the UK I realised how costly eyewear can be here. Looking at the online glasses market, we realised there were quite a few players at the lower-end of the spectrum, selling pairs on a one-off basis, and there were websites where you could buy higher-end designer frames, but no happy medium. After lots of customer feedback, Scarlett of Soho was born - the world’s first designer eyewear subscription service. From only £10 per month, subscribers are able to change their designer prescription glasses whenever they want.
What are your future plans – do you think you’ll stay in the UK to pursue Scarlett of Soho?
I definitely hope so! Building a startup is never easy, but I think there are lots of opportunities in the UK; in terms of available investment, having access to amazing mentors who’ve been there and done that when it comes to setting up businesses, and the networks and communities that help give startups a leg-up.
You recently had some success in a Virgin Startup competition – can you tell us more about that?
We were very recently one of three startups chosen out of 500 applicants for a 30-minute mentoring session with Richard Branson, courtesy of Virgin Startup. It was an amazing experience, completely surreal, to be sitting on the train eating sandwiches with Richard Branson - and definitely an opportunity I would never have been able to seize had I not applied for this visa!