SOAS University of London

SOAS Student Enterprise

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa

SOAS Student Enterprise is pleased to be administering the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa Scheme to SOAS students, in partnership with Student Advice and Wellbeing.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

We are pleased to be taking part in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme. The scheme is designed to enable non-European SOAS graduates that we identify as having developed genuine and credible business ideas or entrepreneurial skills, to extend their stay in the UK after graduation to establish one or more businesses.

SOAS can endorse up to 20 students per year on the scheme and we have been very successful in allocating places to our students. You can apply for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa whilst you are in the UK with a valid Tier 4 visa, or you can apply overseas.  Please visit Gov.UK for the latest requirements and guidance on applying as you can apply whilst in the UK or overseas.

Successful individuals will be sponsored by SOAS for up to 12 months in the first instance with the possibility of an extension for a further 12 months, subject to your business making progress and being financially sustainable.

You can work outside the business in order to support yourself financially, however you you will be expected to spend most of your time setting up and running the business.

Application Requirements:

  • If you have previously held a Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa you will, unfortunately, not be eligible for the scheme
  • You will need to prove that you have held £945 for a consecutive 90-day period in your bank account, prior to submitting your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa application if you are applying in the UK
  • If you are applying outside the UK you will need to prove that you have held £1,890 for a consecutive 90-day period in your bank account, prior to submitting your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa application
  • You can begin to work on your new business as soon as you have applied for your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa, whilst you are waiting for a decision
  • You can also apply for the scheme if you are a SOAS sponsored Postdoctoral Researcher on a Tier 2 visa
  • As well as starting your business, some work might permitted on the Tier 1 (GE) scheme except employment as doctor or dentist in training or professional sportsperson (including coach)
  • If you have dependents, they can apply for a dependent visa to remain or come to the UK with you while you are on the Tier 1 (GE) scheme
  • The business should have the potential to add to the UK economy
  • You will be expected to demonstrate the entrepreneurial skills and commitment to develop the business

After endorsement, participants are required at a minimum to engage with student enterprise activities and attend quarterly one to one meetings to make sure each participant gets the best support.

Student Enterprise is required to inform UK Visa and Immigration if participants are no longer participating in the scheme.

Time spent on a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa will not count towards settlement in the UK. 

Please visit Gov.UK for the application form and guidance on applying.


Deadlines are as follows:

Application submission: 18th October 2018, 11.59pm

Judging panel will take place on 15th November 2018, times and location TBC.

Application submission: 10th January 2019, 11.59pm

Judging panel will take place on 7th February 2019, times and location TBC.

How to apply for an endorsement from SOAS:

Before starting this process, please refer to the Gov.UK website to ensure you are fully aware of all the requirements.

In order to submit a full application you must do the following:

  • Make an appointment with the Student Advisor (Immigration and Finance) to confirm visa status/immigration requirements
  • Book an appointment with a Student Enterprise representative by emailing to discuss your business idea.  You can also get feedback on your application form before you submit it

To submit your final application, please attach the following documents are separate attachments in a single email to  The application documents that you are required to submit are as follows

  • CV
  • Covering Letter
  • Business Plan (Max 12-sides of A4)
  • Financial Forecast (Download template which is available at the top of the page)

What happens next?

  • Your application will be considered by a panel and you will be notified if you get through to the next stage of application
  • If you are shortlisted, you will be required to present your idea to the panel. Presentations will take place on the dates specified above – a specific time slot will be allocated to you. You will be asked to give a 10 minute presentation, followed by Q&A. For those applying outside the UK, the presentation will be conducted via Skype
  • Successful applicants will then be provided with an endorsement letter from SOAS and should contact John Hitchman for an appointment to check their form and supporting documents.
  • For those that are not shortlisted, or are unsuccessful at presentation feedback will be given if requested and you will be able to re-apply, subject to there being visa endorsements available 

Completed applications will not be considered if you have not discussed your idea with the Student Enterprise team and confirmed your eligibility to apply with the Student Advisor (Immigration and Finance).

For business support and advice please visit the SOAS Enterprise website and the SOAS Careers Service website.

For more information about the requirements of the visa please visit Gov.UK