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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa

The Home Office offers a number of international graduates the opportunity to apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme. In order to be accepted onto Solent's Tier 1 scheme, you must first have been accepted onto our Solent Students and Graduates Start-Up Programme. This will mean that you will have to present your business plan to one of the timetabled panels.

Please note that we will not endorse you if you have not been through our Solent Students and Graduates Start-Up Programme.

The University aims to support international students who wish to stay in the UK to develop their ideas into sustainable UK-based businesses.This is limited to no more than five students.

The role of the University

The University (as sponsor) will offer support and monitor progression on behalf of the Home Office. A member of the University’s Solent Futures Enterprise staff must meet the student every three months to check that progress has been made. At the end of the year, if the idea is still viable and progress has been made, participants have the opportunity to apply for an additional year. They still need to comply with Home Office requirements and be able to demonstrate that their business is on track to be turning over £50k by the end of the second year.

How to apply for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa

1. Check your eligibility to apply before you consider making an application. Applicants considering this scheme should allow at least three months before their existing visa is due to expire to begin the process. Read the Government's Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) policy carefully and make sure that you have understood all the responsibilities expected of you.

2. Apply to the Solent start-up programme.

3. Once you have been accepted through the panel, contact Caroline Barfoot in Solent Futures at to arrange an initial consultation. 

4. Before the consultation, ensure that you have filled in and forwarded the Tier 1 Business Application Form. You should also bring with you a copy of your passport, course results and existing visa documentation. This information will be kept securely by the University and only used for the purposes of your application. Email for a Tier 1 Business Application Form

5. If you are successful at the panel stage the University will give you a formal letter of endorsement on University headed stationery.  On this letter will be a secure reference number allocated by the Home Office to the University.

6. You will be asked to complete a declaration of intent. This is your pledge to indicate that you are prepared to meet all the requirements of the Home Office and meet the University for progress reports on a regular basis.

7. Gather up your letter of endorsement and formal visa application form (and any other supporting information required) and forward the application documentation to the Home Office at least 2-4 weeks before your visa deadline.


You will be contacted by the Home Office with the result of your application. If successful, you will be issued with a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, a copy of which you must submit to the University.


You should be aware that the notification process may take some time as some times of year are busier for the Home Office than others. Sending a completed application form and receiving a letter of endorsement is not a guarantee of success. The Home Office will be weighing up other factors (such as your financial liquidity over the last three months) and their decision is FINAL and cannot be influenced by the University.

Your responsibilities as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

  • Please inform us immediately if your contact details change, as we need to know how to get hold of you quickly if the Home Office needs to contact you.
  • Failure to attend your scheduled progress reviews may jeopardise your chances of receiving a further endorsement at the end of the first year. 
  • As sponsors, we are duty-bound to inform any perceived infringements of your duties to the Home Office.

Tips to ensure a successful application

  • Be patient. Obtaining a visa may take several weeks. 
  • Don’t leave your application to the last minute! Allow at least three months before your existing visa is due to expire to begin the process. The visa application form is quite long and needs time to fill in accurately. 
  • Give yourself time to develop your idea. A well-planned and thought out idea is much more likely to receive the University’s endorsement. If you need help with business planning, visit our daily drop-in in RM001.

Page last updated on Wednesday 17 May 2017 at 1.26pm.


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