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Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

Information for International (non EEA/Swiss) Students

What is Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)?

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) is an immigration category to allow graduates with genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills to stay in the UK to develop their business under the supervision of their UK academic institution.

Who can apply for immigration permission as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)?

You may be able to apply for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission if:

•  you have never been granted immigration permission under Tier 1 (Post-Study Work), Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme, International Graduates Scheme or the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme; and
•  you have not previously been granted more than one year of immigration permission under this scheme; and
•  you have been awarded a UK bachelor’s or postgraduate degree; and

•  if you are applying in the UK, you have savings of at least £945 and you have held these savings for at least 90 days before you make your immigration application; or
•  if you are applying from outside the UK, you have savings of at least £1,890 and you have held these savings for at least 90 days before you make your immigration application.

Note: you can only make an immigration application for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) in the UK if your most recent grant of immigration permission is as a Tier 4 (General) Student or if your most recent grant of immigration permission is as a Tier 2 (General) migrant and you are working at Queen Mary as a postdoctoral researcher. Otherwise, you will have to return to your home country to make an application for entry clearance.

For full details of the requirements, read the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) of the Points Based System – Policy Guidance document, which is available from the Home Office website.

Please note, that from 06 April 2015, students who intend to create businesses in property development or management are excluded from the scheme.

How long can I stay in the UK with Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission?

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission will be granted for one year.

Provided you have not already been granted more than one year of immigration permission under the scheme and if your business is a success, Queen Mary may choose to provide you with a second endorsement letter and you may be able to apply for immigration permission for a second year.

If your business continues to be a success, you may be able to apply for immigration permission as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). Visit the UK Border Agency website for more information about Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) immigration permission.

What is the Queen Mary Endorsement Scheme?

To apply for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission, you need a Letter of Endorsement from Queen Mary. To apply for this letter, you must pass an Endorsement Selection Scheme run by Queen Mary. We will use this selection process to identify viable business ideas. There are two parts to the selection scheme:

1. A written application

2. An interview panel.

Queen Mary selects a maximum of ten applicants, but we will only select applicants with business ideas which are likely to succeed.

When should I apply to the Queen Mary Endorsement Scheme?

You should apply three months before the expiration of your current immigration permission, and no more than four months before expiration. Unless you allow at least 3 months between deadline and the expiry of your current immigration permission, unfortunately we cannot guarantee that we will be able to process your application to the Endorsement Scheme before your visa expires. You are now allowed to apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa from overseas, so if we cannot process your application prior to the expiration of your visa, you can continue your application from your home country.

Application Process and Selection 

Application Form can be downloaded here [DOC 187KB]. Applications to Queen Mary University of London for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa permission endorsement will be assessed by QMUL’s Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Selection Panel. The Panel compiles three senior enterprise staff from the Queen Mary Senior Executive, QMI Ltd. and the Careers & Enterprise Team.

Each application will be assessed against the selection and scoring criteria given below: where 0 = no evidence given; 1 = some but insufficient evidence given; 2 = sufficient evidence given; 3 = excellent evidence given.

If assessment results in the Panel requesting revisions to the candidate’s application, then only one revision opportunity will be given, and any additional evidence requested must be submitted to the Panel within one month.

The Panel’s decision is final. However, if an applicant wishes to appeal on grounds of process, they may do so, within two weeks of receipt of this decision, by submitting their case in writing to the Head of Careers & Enterprise, e.huns@qmul.ac.uk.

If a candidate is not granted endorsement, then s/he may choose to apply on one further occasion with a new business idea. Candidates may not re-apply with the same business idea.

Scoring criteria

The pitch (0-3 marks)
Is it compelling and well organised, and is relevant information backed up with evidence?

Competitive position (0-3 marks)
Have competitors been described and analysed effectively; is there a genuine USP for the business?

Market knowledge and strategy (0-3 marks)
Have the size and characteristics of the market been described effectively and backed up with evidence?

Product or service feasibility (0-3 marks)
Has the product or service been validated by an independent expert, investor or customer – for example, has a commitment to invest been received, or a contract from a customer? Does the application provide a convincing story of how the product/ service will work and how the business could diversify into new areas? If securing a patent is key to the idea, the candidate should have checked patentability with a qualified attorney. Additionally the candidate should check freedom to operate – are there other patents that their product/service would infringe?

Financial model (0-3 marks)
Is there potential for the business to be profitable and scalable? Are the financial figures supported by market data provided, e.g. is the market big enough to sustain the financial projections? Can financial progress be made within the 2 year (maximum) term of the visa permission (e.g. via raising investment from a third party or generating revenue from sales)?

Entrepreneurial skills (0-3 marks)
Does the applicant (and their team if relevant) demonstrate and evidence the relevant skills needed to set up the business, and have they identified strategies to address any skills gaps?

UK impact (0-3 marks)
Will the business have a lasting, positive impact on the UK?

All panel members must be in agreement before a candidate may pass through each stage of the process. If your application is successful, two of the panel members will be responsible for monitoring your business.

How do I apply for Endorsement?

For the first stage, you are asked to supply:

1. a completed application form.

2. a 1 minute video pitching your business to the panel (this does not have to be hi tech – it is fine to use your smart phone). You should upload your video to a hosting service such as YouTube or Vimeo. Have a look at crowd sourced funding websites (e.g. http://www.kickstarter.com) for ideas to inspire your video.

Applicants are encouraged to seek advice from one of Queen Mary’s Careers Consultants before starting their application and then to gain feedback as they develop their application. To book an appointment, please call 020 7882 8533 and ask for an Enterprise Appointment.

Please submit your final written application by email to enterprise@qmul.ac.uk.You will then receive notification of the outcome of your application within 15 working days of receipt.

The interview panel stage

If you pass the written application stage, you will be invited to a panel interview where your application and evidence will be further probed and any concerns explored.

If you pass both stages of selection, the panel will arrange for an endorsement letter to be sent to you for inclusion in your immigration application. You are responsible for making your immigration application. See the Home Office website

What next?

If the UK government grants you  Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission, Queen Mary is responsible for monitoring the progress of your business against the agreed key performance indicators for the one year period.

At the end of this year, if progress is satisfactory and you have not already been granted more than one year of immigration permission under the scheme, Queen Mary may choose to send you a second letter of endorsement to recommend an extension of your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission for one further year.

Note that, as a Queen Mary endorsed Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) immigration permission holder, you will be automatically joined up to the Queen Mary Entrepreneurs’ Forum, and will be able to continue to use the business accelerator space on the first floor of the Francis Bancroft Building, Mile End Campus.

How will I be monitored as a holder of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)?

As a holder of Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) endorsed by Queen Mary, we are obliged to monitor the progress of your business. Queen Mary will use a ‘Staged Gate Process’ to do this. At least two members of the Queen Mary Endorsement Selection Panel must pass you at each ‘Gate’. If you fail at a Gate, you will be allowed one further attempt.

At each Gate, the progress of your business will be measured using your key performance indicators. The panel will require proof of income, outgoings, tax payment. The panel will need to be able to see that the majority of your time in the UK is being spent on running your business.

Monitoring meetings will be held on the Queen Mary campus and scheduled as follows:

• Gate 1 Meeting – within 1 month of your immigration permission being granted
• Gate 2 Meeting – 2 months after Gate 1
• Gate 3 Meeting – 3 months after Gate 2
• Gate 4 Meeting – 4 months after Gate 3 (At this meeting, the panel will consider whether to provide you with a second letter of endorsement so that you can apply to extend your immigration permission for a further year.)

You will be required to keep a blog charting the progress of your business and update this at least once a week.

Reporting

Queen Mary will immediately notify the Home Office that we are withdrawing our endorsement if:

• we are in any doubt over the progress of your business or your commitment to it; or
• you fail a Gate; or
• we have evidence that you have broken your immigration conditions.

If we notify Home Office that we are withdrawing our endorsement, it is likely that your immigration permission will be curtailed (cut short). See the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) of the Points Based System – Policy Guidance document for more information.

Intellectual Property

Please note that protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) is your responsibility – but advice on how to do this is available from Queen Mary via an Enterprise Appointment. Also note that, if your business relies on intellectual property owned by Queen Mary, you may need to seek a licensing agreement.

Who will fund my business?

Queen Mary will not provide any funding for your business as part of the Endorsement Scheme. You will need to find the money to fund your business from elsewhere. Possible sources of funding might include:

• Your savings
• Competitions for seed funding held at Queen Mary – listed on our funding page.
• Private investors or companies
• Crowd sourced funding websites (e.g. http://www.kickstarter.com)

We recommend you also join the Queen Mary Students’ Union Entrepreneurs’ Society which can provide further information about funding opportunities.

Useful contacts

If you have questions about the Queen Mary Endorsement Scheme, please make an Enterprise Appointment by calling the Careers Information Desk on 020 7882 8533 or dropping into the Careers Centre in WG3 Queens’ Building, Mile End Campus.

If you have questions about making your immigration application, please submit a query to the Advice and Counselling Service:
• In person: Ground Floor, Geography Building, Mile End Campus)
• By phone: +44 (0)20 7882 8717
• Via the web: http://welfare.qmul.ac.uk/contact

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Panel, July 2012, updated March 2013, updated April 2014, updated June 2015

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