Careers Service

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa scheme

Are you an international student or graduate from the University of Manchester who would like to start a business in the UK? If so, then the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa could be the scheme for you.

Every year from April to March the following year, the University offers 3 opportunities for individuals or teams who feel they have viable and innovative business idea to apply for one of 20 endorsement letters. These are an essential part of any application to the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa which will allow you up to two years to try and build a successful business in the UK. The next and final application deadline for this academic year 2018-19 will be noon 15th February 2019.

Please note, PhD students wishing to start their own business would be advised to apply for a visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme which has a different, simpler application process. If successful, they would have up to 12 months to work on and run their business before having to consider Tier 1 (GE) visa scheme or other alternatives.

If successful, you would have a year to work on your business and would be able to apply for a second year before having to consider other visa options such as the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

What is on offer?

  • The opportunity to be endorsed by The University of Manchester for a 1 year Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa which, if successful, will allow you to set-up and develop a Manchester-based business. This is extendable for a further year subject to progress made.
  • The support of The University of Manchester’s Enterprise Centre, to develop your business, including mentoring expertise to help your business and if your visa application is successful, incubator/office facilities (you will have to cover the cost of your place in the incubator - see below for more details).
  • A route to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, subject to an approved funding source being secured after this time.
  • The opportunity to work up to 20 hours per week outside the business in order to support yourself financially.

Who can get involved?

If you are an international student and are about to graduate or have already been awarded an UK recognised bachelor's degree, master's degree or PhD from the University of Manchester then you are eligible.

We are unable to provide an endorsement letter prior to completion of your programme, we are able to review and comment on your proposal before graduation, and hopefully this helps to improve the quality of your proposal. To request a meeting please email together with your pitch deck. It doesn’t have to be complete but do what you can to complete using the Compiling a pitch deck template (below) to guide you. This is the quickest way for us to become familiar with your proposal before meeting, thus ensuring that all parties get the best from the meeting.

Current students can take part in our Manchester Enterprise Centre (MEC) competitions and in fact, this is a great way to build up a track record of interest and experience in enterprise and entrepreneurship, to get help in developing your business proposal, and maybe to win some prize money. MEC also provide a range of electives that you might be interested in undertaking if your degree programme allows it.

Applications can be made from outside the UK. Please note that we are unable to support anyone who is not a graduate of the University of Manchester.

How to apply

The next and final application deadline for this academic year 2018-19 will be noon 15th February 2019. Applicants will need to provide evidence that they have a genuine and credible business idea, and that they will spend the majority of their working time on developing the business.

The first stage will be to complete and send in your application which should include:

If more than one person is applying as part of a team then there should be a CV and application form for each applicant. Please note that we only endorse graduates from the University of Manchester (UoM). If members of your team are not from the University of Manchester then they will have to investigate other visa options.

Should our evaluators feel that your initial application meets the requirements, you will be asked to present to a panel. This will take the form of a 15 minute presentation and up to 15 minutes of questions.

If successful the University of Manchester will supply you with a signed endorsement letter valid for up to 3 months of the date specified on the letter. This will be an essential component of your application to the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa. The success of your visa application will be subject to number of additional requirements. More details can be found at the following links:

Once issued, the visa will be valid for 12 months in the first instance but can be extended for a further year subject to progress being made in developing your business (possibly extendable to 2 years).

Please note that under this scheme, endorsed graduates are not permitted to work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. Applicants are also unable to score points for any business or business idea that engages in property management or property development.

Improving your chances

  • Your business proposal - Seek advice on putting together an effective business proposal. Manchester Enterprise Centre have a range of materials to help including Compiling a pitch deck document, which outlines many of the key elements to include in your Powerpoint presentation which will be a key part of your application.
  • Your application - Involvement in other workshops and events at the Enterprise Centre or similar, to demonstrate your commitment / enthusiasm, may help your application.

Your commitment/responsibilities

  • A commitment to develop your business in the Greater Manchester area.
  • Your co-operation to comply with the UK government’s Tier 1 regulations – including regular communication with The University; attendance at / use of the incubator facilities and regular update reports on progress.
  • An annual payment from yourself to cover use of the incubator and mentoring services of the Centre to support your business. Estimated costs are between £2,000-£5,000 per year and will be clarified on application.
  • Participation in scheduled enterprise events and training from the Manchester Enterprise Centre, where appropriate.

Next steps

If you would like to receive more information about this visa option with The University of Manchester or have any questions, please complete as much of the Powerpoint presentation (.PPT format only) as you can using the guidance note (Compiling a pitch deck) to help you. Please e-mail to along with any questions you may have.