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Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

Coventry University is a participant of Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur (GE) scheme introduced by UKVI. It is designed to give students who have recently and successfully completed a degree, or higher level course, at Coventry University or Coventry University London Campus (referred to as Coventry University hereafter), and that have a ‘genuine and credible business ideas and entrepreneurial skills’, the opportunity to develop these within the UK with the support of the University for a maximum period of 24 months.

Information about this scheme is available in the Tier 1 GE policy guidance.

Who can apply?

Students who have completed an undergraduate degree level course or higher at Coventry University and have had their business idea successfully assessed by Coventry University’s Institute of Applied Entrepreneurship, can make an application under this category.

It is possible to apply within the UK, provided you have current valid leave under Tier 4, or overseas, however the maintenance requirements differ, please see the ‘How much money do I need?’ section for more details.

You cannot switch into the Tier 1 GE category if you have previously had Post Study Work leave or were granted leave under the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland, International Graduates, or Science and Engineering Graduate Schemes.

Please be aware that Coventry University can sponsor only a limited number of applicants under Tier 1 GE and the standard expected of applicants is high.

When should I apply?

You are required to show that you have money to support yourself in your bank account for at least 90 consecutive days prior to the date of your application, so it is advisable to begin preparing your application as soon as possible.

You should expect the assessment of your business plan to take a minimum of two weeks and another two weeks to complete administrative side of things, but the process will be longer depending on your individual circumstances. You should plan to make your application from outside the UK if you have not completed the business assessment process in full, less than one month before the end date of your visa.

Once we have assessed your application, and if we are willing to sponsor you under Tier 1 GE, we will support you through the visa extension process. We will issue your with an endorsement letter that is valid for three months from the date of issue. If you do not make your application within the validity of your Letter of Endorsement, the University may not be able to issue you a new letter.  

How much money will I need?

The Home Office maintenance requirements for Tier 1 GE applications specify that money available to you must be held in your account for a period of 90 consecutive days. The closing balance of your bank statement must be no more than 31 days before the date of your visa application. The required amount of money is as follows:

  • £1,890 if you apply for entry clearance outside the UK
  • £945 if you are applying in the UK

You can use an account in your name only or a joint account if you are one of the named account holders. You cannot use an account in the name of your parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The form in which you must hold these funds is detailed in the Tier 1 GE policy guidance.  

In addition to the above UKVI maintenance requirement, Coventry University imposes its own maintenance requirements to all those applicants wishing to be on this programme. You are required to show you have access to in total minimum £8,000 in your personal savings which includes UKVI maintenance as well to ensure you have sufficient money to maintain yourself in the UK. The money has to be maintained a minimum of 28 days in your bank account consecutively. The breakdown of the £8,000 is as follows.

£5,000 – payable directly to CUSE

 £2,055 – maintenance to show CU –maintained for minimum 28 days

 £945 – maintenance to show Home Office (+ £630 per dependent(s) if applicable. ) maintained for 90 days

What documents do I need to apply?

Tier 1 GE is part of the points-based system (as is the Tier 4 Student category). This means that in order for your visa application to be successful you will need to be granted the right number points for various attributes. Tier 1 GE requires 95 points, made up of:

  • 25 points granted for a valid Letter of Endorsement from Coventry University
  • 25 points granted for a degree level or above qualification from Coventry University, evidenced by your certificate or transcript and award letter
  • 25 points for having your business plan assessed and accepted by Coventry University, as confirmed by an Endorsement Letter
  • 10 points for confirmation that your English language ability is at the required level, this is evidenced by your educational qualification. Your endorsement letter confirms that you have a degree level or above qualification, you will not have to take another English language test
  • 10 points for having the required money in your bank account for 90 days – see the ‘How much money will I need?’ section for more details.

If you are sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency, or if you have been sponsored by a government or international scholarship agency within the 12-month period preceding your application, your financial sponsor must confirm in writing that it unconditionally consents to this application. This written consent must include permission for you to extend your stay in the UK under the Tier 1 GE category. 

How much will it cost?

At present the Home Office application fees for Tier 1 GE are as follows:


Who is applying Applications outide the UK Applications within the UK
Yourself £363 £493
If you're a citizen of Turkey or Macedonia £363 £438
Dependants £363 per person £493 per person

According to policy guidance version 04/17

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

To cover the cost of the support Coventry University will provide for 12 months (please see the section titled ‘What Will I Receive?’ for further details) there will be a non-refundable charge to you of £5,000 (VAT inc.) for 12 months sponsorship. 

Work Restrictions

If you make your Tier 1 GE application within the UK before your previous Tier 4 leave expires, you can work under the terms of your previous student leave whilst your application is being considered by the Home Office. If you have completed your course, this time will be considered as your vacation time so you can work full-time, however the restrictions in place from your Tier 4 leave concerning the types of employment you are able to undertake continue to remain in place until your new visa is granted.

When your application is granted, you are allowed to set up your business and, in addition to this, you can take employment. The number of hours a week you can work is unrestricted if you applied on or after 6 April 2013. You are not allowed to work as a doctor or dentist in training or as a professional sportsperson (including work as a sports coach).

If you are not sure whether you should start working on your business, you should wait until the Home Office has granted you permission to stay under Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur). This is because you remain subject to your student work conditions until your Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) leave has been granted and student conditions prohibit self-employment.

Your responsibilities as a Tier 1 GE

If you are granted a visa it will be for a period of 12 months. There is the possibility to apply to extend this leave for another 12 months depending on the progress you have made during your first year and your plans for further development. This will be tracked in line with business Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set at your monthly review meetings.

As a part of your responsibilities you will need to remain in contact with us whilst you are in the UK under Tier 1 GE. It is very important that you do not miss a scheduled contact without first seeking Coventry University's permission. This is because Coventry University is required to report students to the Home Office if they miss a contact without permission, and the Home Office can cut short (curtail) your immigration permission.

You must contact and inform the University, via your University Business Mentor, if you intend to leave the UK for a short break at any time of the year.

You must also contact Coventry University, and the Home Office, with any change of address details. You can inform the Home Office of this and email business-enterprise@cad.coventry.ac.uk

You will be required to sign an agreement to confirm that you consent to these arrangements prior to your Endorsement Letter being issued.

The list is not exhaustive, the Tier 1 GE policy covers all your rights and responsibilities as a Tier 1 GE Entrepreneur.

What Will I Receive?

If you are successful, you will be provided with:

  1. A hot-desk space with PC and access to printing including relevant software packages.
  2. 12 months registered trading address at Coventry University Technology Park as part of the ‘4front’ for business offer.
  3. 2 hours mentoring per month with a University support professional to align your business plan with milestones and KPI delivery.
  4. Access to the University business support programmes managed by the business support team/Business Development Manager.
  5. Access to the Global Leaders Programme for 12 months as appropriate.
  6. Access to Coventry University London Campus business support services as appropriate.

For the services listed above, and as part of the conditions of your sponsorship, there will be a non-refundable charge to you of £5,000 (VAT inc) for 12 months sponsorship. The fee must be paid in full up front once you receive your visa, as part of the scheduled support services under the Home Office monitoring criteria. Failure to make this payment will result in sponsorship being withdrawn and will affect your immigration status in the UK.


The following family members can apply to be your dependant in the UK:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • unmarried partner, or same sex partner, who is not a civil partner
  • children aged under 18 if they are outside the UK
  • children of any age if they are applying in the UK and they currently have immigration permission as your dependant and are not leading an independent life.

The amount of money dependants must show is £1,260 per person if the application is made outside the UK or if you are in the UK but have been in the UK for a period of less than 12 months. If you are in the UK and have been so for 12 months or longer, the funds required for family members is £630 per person. The money must have been held for 90 days consecutively before the date of the application. The policy guidance for Points Based System dependants lists the forms of acceptable evidence of funds.

Find out more about the Points Based System (Dependant) policy guidance.