The United Kingdom Investor Visa
The sovereign state known as the United Kingdom (the UK) is comprised of four nations: Northern Island, Scotland, Wales, and England. As a global power, the United Kingdom continues to exert tremendous influence on the world economy and international trading. The United Kingdom is the sixth largest economy in the world, making it a very attractive option for foreign nationals seeking to invest their funds in different countries. Importantly, the UK’s offers a number of investment-based immigration options. One such option is called the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.
The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
The purpose of the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa is to facilitate the establishment of businesses in the UK by exceptional students who received their MBA or similar education at a UK educational institution. (It is important note that this visa is reserved for applicants who are nationals of countries outside of Europe. An interested foreign national does not need to apply for a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa if the national is a citizen of Switzerland, a British overseas territories citizen (unless the national is a citizen of Cyprus), or a citizen of the countries that are party to the European Economic Area which includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, and several others).
For this visa, the UK uses a point-allocation-system wherein a specific number of points are awarded based upon the foreign national’s qualifications, skills, and experience. To qualify for the visa, a foreign national must accumulate at least 75 points.
For a foreign national to obtain a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, the applicant must accrue 75 points as explained below:
25 Points for an Acceptable Endorsement
The UK Trade and Investment or a UK Higher Education Institution endorsed the applicant and the endorsing body itself meets the following criteria:
- Maintains “High Trusted Sponsor Status” within the meaning of the points-based immigration system
- Has an A-Rated Sponsor rating under the Tier 2 section of immigration law if a Tier 2 license is held by the endorsing body
- Has an A-Rated Sponsor rating under the Tier 5 section of immigration law if a Tier 5 license is held by the endorsing body
- Has the power to award degree
- Maintains an established procedure for ascertaining, encouraging, and developing student entrepreneurs among the endorsing body’s undergraduate and postgraduate populace
25 Points for Meeting Additional Endorsements
If the foreign national’s previous entry into the UK was not as a Graduate Entrepreneur, within the 12 months preceding the date of endorsement, the foreign national has been awarded one of the following qualifications:
- the acceptable endorsing institution awarded the foreign national a UK-recognized Bachelor’s Master’s or PhD degree; OR
- the endorsing institutes awarded the foreign national a UK-recognized Master of Business Administration degree; OR
- the application has received a degree qualification which the UK NARIC deems to have met or exceeded the UK’s recognized standard of Bachelor’s degrees
If the foreign national’s previous entry into the UK was as a Tier 2 General Migrant (for the purpose of performing post-doctoral research work):
- the foreign national received a General Endorsement from the same entity that sponsored the national’s application for post-doctoral research; AND
- the foreign national has received a UK-recognized Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree from a Higher Educational Institution in the UK
If the foreign national’s previous entry into the UK was a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, the endorsement was given by the same body that gave the previous enforcement for the preceding entry.
25 Points for Meeting the Business Plan Requirements
The foreign national’s endorsement must confirm that the endorsing body has deemed the following:
- That the foreign nationals has created a genuine and credible idea for a successful business venture; AND
- That the foreign national will utilize the majority of his/her working time on further establishing, developing, and growing the business venture; AND
- In the event that the national’s previous entry was as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur, then the national has made satisfactory progress in cultivating and growing the business since the last entry into the UK
The endorsement will only count for the visa points if it meets the following requirements:
- The endorsement was issued to the foreign national no more than 3 months before the date of the national’s visa application; AND
- At the time of the application, the endorsement has not been withdrawn; AND
- The foreign national provides the UK Border Agency with the original endorsement and the original shows the following information:
- Reference number
- Date of issue and length of validity
- Applicant’s name, date of birth, nationality, and passport number
- Biographic details of the applicant’s accompanying dependents, if any
- Name of the endorsing body
- Name and contact information for the official authorizing the endorsement
- Name, level, and date of the foreign national’s degree award
- The foreign national’s intended business industry or economic sector
- The reasons for granting the endorsement
- If the foreign national is extending the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, the confirmation that the endorsing body is contented with the business’s progress
It is important to also note that the UK has imposed a numerical limit on the number of Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visas that may be issued every year. That limit is 2,000 visas which are allocated as follows:
- 900 visas are reserved for Higher Education Institutions’ graduates who studied any subject (referred to as “General Endorsements”)
- 1,000 visas are reserved for Higher Education Institutions’ graduates who received Masters of Business Administration degrees
- 100 visas are reserved for overseas graduates (referred to as “Global Endorsements”)
This limit does not apply to those foreign nationals who are applying to extend their Graduate Entrepreneur Visas.
Due to the numerous requirements for the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, it is recommended that a foreign national contact a knowledge attorney before moving forward with the visa application.