Dear Mr Bassie,
There has been some confusion recently concerning the eligibility of institutions to support Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applications. How does an institution obtain eligibility to support Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applications?
Thank you for your question. It is timely.
In March 2012, eligible higher education institutions (HEIs) were invited to apply to become authorised endorsing bodies. As a result, those institutions that were successful were allocated places with the 1,000 limit.
The authorised HEIs are able to endorse up to their allocated number of non-European Economic Area national graduates to take part in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme between March 12, 2012 and April 5, 2013. In order to be eligible, the graduates must have been awarded a degree or PhD within the past 12 months prior to the application by the institution.
Once a HEI has identified an individual they wish to endorse, they must contact the British authorities and provide details of the individual that is being endorsed. The HEI must provide the individual with a letter on the institution's headed paper confirming that the institution has given him or her the institution's endorsement.
Endorsing institution responsibilities
It should be noted that the authorising institution also has responsibilities. An endorsing HEI must confirm that it has an established process for identifying and developing entrepreneurs from among its undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The HEI must also produce details of the qualification that has been awarded to the individual and the institution should ensure that it meets the British authority's criteria.
The HEI must also show that the individual has a genuine, credible and innovative business idea; and that he or she will spend the majority of his or her working time on developing the business venture.
After endorsing a graduate entrepreneur, the HEI must keep documented evidence of the selection process that resulted in the institution giving its endorsement, and provide this to the British authorities if requested. The HEI is also charged with maintaining contact with the endorsed individual and should assess that person's progress at regular intervals or at least quarterly. As a result of this assessment, the HEI should inform the British authorities if the individual does not keep contact, or if he or she misses one of their progress reviews without authorisation.
The HEI should also be prepared to inform the British authorities if it has any evidence indicating or suggesting that a migrant is breaching the conditions of his or her permission to stay in the United Kingdom and the HEI should also let the authorities know if migrants are no longer participating in the scheme.
The successful applicants will be granted leave for 12 months initially and which may be extended for a further 12 months upon application. The authorised endorsing bodies will also need to endorse any extension applications from these graduate entrepreneurs. It should be noted that these endorsements for extension applications will not count towards their allocation under the limit that was given.
The endorsement that is given by the endorsing body must confirm that that endorsing body is satisfied with the progress that the applicant has made in establishing a business and that he/she will, on the balance of probability, qualify to switch into the main Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route by the end of the second year as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur).
Further, it is worth noting that the British authorities have eased the criteria that will allow such a person to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route by reducing the investment that he or she needs from £200,000 to £50,000.
However, applicants who are granted leave to remain in this category on the basis of their endorsement will be allowed to work for their business, and to do other work for up to 20 hours a week so that they are able to support themselves while developing their business. Also, keeping in line with Tier 4 and other Tier 1 routes, the applicant will not be permitted to work as a doctor or dentist in training, or as a professional sports person or sports coach.
I hope this helps.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (UK). Email: email@example.com.