Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Policy

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1 Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Policy August 2012 Responsibility of: Produced by: The University Secretary Rebecca Awdry Approval date: August 2012 Review date: August 2015 Approved by: VCE Consultation via: Academic Registry, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) 1

2 POINTS BASED IMMIGRATION, TIER 1 GRADUATE ENTREPRENEUR POLICY 1. Introduction 1.1 This policy sets out the regulations and processes governed by the UK Border Agency guidelines for sponsoring a student under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme (published on and found through: As a Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS), the policy presents only those requirements relevant for HTS sponsors, and provides information for both staff and students looking to utilise the scheme within the University of West London. 1.3 The policy will present the regulations underpinning the Tier 1 scheme, the processes that the University and student must adhere to, the outcomes and requirements following successful sponsorship and application of a student onto the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa route. Please note, this policy is only applicable to students who have recently (within the last 12 months) graduated with a minimum of a Bachelors degree from the University of West London, and wish to pursue innovative business ventures (exact requirements are detailed below). 1.4 The information presented below only relates to the University s internal procedures in support of a student, and in no way confirms or reflects what the UK Border Agency decision will be when assessing the application. However, a student can only proceed with their application once they have been successful in achieving endorsement by the University to sponsor them through the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme. 1.5 Recent graduates must only apply if they can confirm that they meet all of the below criteria, and have completed the required research and documentation. 1.6 The University of West London has a limited number of Tier 1 endorsements, which are determined annually by the UK Border Agency. Once the annual quota is filled there will be no opportunity for graduates to submit an application, and this 2

3 may subsequently lead to them missing out on the scheme due to the 12 month time limit placed on application to the Graduate Entrepreneur visa. 1.7 If successful in their application, graduates will receive an additional 12 months leave to remain in the UK to work on their business venture. 1.8 At the end of the year, there is a possibility to apply for a further 12 month visa extension to the Tier 1 scheme (Graduate Entrepreneur). 24 months is the maximum time permitted under the scheme. 2. Who can apply? 2.1 Graduates of The University of West London, having completed an undergraduate, or postgraduate degree can apply for endorsement by The University provided they meet all the below criteria: a) Have completed their studies within the last 12 months (before applying for the scheme), and do not have a job offer from an employer. b) Have a genuine, credible and innovative business* idea, endorsed by the University; c) Will spend the majority of their time working on developing the business venture; d) Agree to maintain contact and evidence progress at regular intervals, as determined by the University (a minimum of once every three months); e) Must have a minimum of 900 is their bank account for 3 consecutive months prior to application for endorsement; and f) Adhere to the conditions set by the University and the UK Border Agency. (If the person does not keep in regular contact, does not provide evidence of progression of the business, works more than 20 hours no any other venture, or breaches any other condition, the University will report the endorsed graduate to the UK Border Agency) *Business, as defined by the UK Border Agency guidelines relates to: i) Sole Trader ii) Partnership iii) Company Registered in the UK 2.2 Although this list provides the minimum requirements prior to a panel meeting at the University to decide upon the endorsement of a graduate under the scheme, the list relates only to the initial stages that are considered by the University. A full list of UK Border Agency conditions is found through the Home Office website and must be consulted by graduates prior to applying for endorsement. The University endorsement does not automatically lead to acceptance of application. All UK Border Agency conditions must be met. 2.3 Applicants under the scheme are required to demonstrate their financial backing (this should be in the form of bank statements covering the previous three month 3

4 period) to the University, although this will also be verified by the UK Border Agency. 2.4 The University panel will need to look at evidence of financial backing sufficient enough to support the graduate during the year, and for the interests of developing the business idea. 3 Who cannot apply? 3.1 As per the guidelines found through the UK Border Agency policy. Persons cannot apply if they are outside of the UK at the time of application. 3.2 If the applicant does not, or did not, hold one of the following visas issued by the UK Border Agency to grant them leave in the UK, they are not eligible for the scheme and must not apply: a) Tier 4 Migrant; b) Student; c) Student Nurse; d) Student Re-sitting an Examination e) Student Writing up a Thesis f) Postgraduate Doctor or Dentist; or g) Tier 1(Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant. 4 The application process and how to apply 4.1 Once a graduate has ensured that they meet all of the criteria set out above, and through the UK Border Agency website, they are entitled to apply to the University for an endorsement. A prerequisite of the application to the UK Border Agency is that student has been granted an endorsement letter by a Higher Education Institution, who will sponsor and mentor them during the 12 months of their extended leave if granted the visa. 4.2 The applicant must ensure that they have completed a full business analysis and written report to present their business proposal or entrepreneurial enterprise to the panel. All evidence and research must have been finalised before application so that the panel can review all information. 4.3 Applicants must be prepared to produce additional documentation if requested. 4.4 Applicants should, in the first instance, contact a key member of staff from their degree programme, or the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) who will instigate a review of the case. 4.5 Once it has been decided that a viable business plan has been produced, and substantial evidence of funding and finances received, The University will set up a 4

5 panel meeting to review the case thoroughly and make the final decision on whether The University wishes to endorse the student. 5 The consideration process 5.1 On agreement with the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), or their nominee, a panel will be called following initial acceptance of an application for review. 5.2 The panel will consist of three senior members of staff who have been deemed suitable by Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise). One panel member will act as Chair. 5.3 The Chair shall normally be the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), or their nominee. 5.4 Once a panel date has been set, the panel members will be sent a complete copy of the business proposal, information of the entrepreneurial activity, their finances, and any other information submitted by the applicant in relation to their business venture. 5.5 The submitted documentation will be received by the panel no later than five working days prior to the date of the meeting. 5.6 The applicant will be invited to the meeting, so that they can answer any questions that the panel members may have about their business venture, year plan, finances, or anything else deemed relevant for the case. 5.7 Panel members are entitled to raise any objections or concerns that they may have directly to the student, or after the student has left the room during the deliberation stage of the meeting. 5.8 Once the outcome has been reached, the panel s decision is final, and the student is only able to appeal the decision through the formal channels: 6 Membership of the panel 6.1 The panel will consist of three senior members of staff of The University of West London. The membership will be comprised of persons from the graduate s 5

6 Academic School or College and the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), or their nominee. 7 The role of the panel 7.1 The panel s role is to provide a full assessment of the applicant s business plan and decide on an outcome in line with the process laid out in this policy, as governed by the UK Border Agency regulations. 7.2 The panel must ensure that they review and consider each case individually and on its own merit. 7.3 Panel members are responsible for declaring any conflict of interests prior to the panel meeting, so that an alternative member can be selected. 7.4 The panel are entitled to question the graduate during the process and raise any concerns with them. Should they wish to raise concerns with the Chair of the panel, this can be done prior to the meeting, or during deliberation stages following the exit of the graduate from the room. 7.5 Should a panel member feel that they do not have sufficient information to make a final decision, this should be raised as soon as possible. If prior to the meeting, the graduate must be contacted and asked to submit the information as soon as reasonably possible. 7.6 Should the panel member feel that they require more evidence during or following a panel meeting, the applicant can submit this after the meeting, and a decision can be made electronically if it is not possible to call another meeting in the next working week. 8 Meeting of the panel The panel meeting shall be held in the following way: 8.1 Once all panel members and the student are present the Chair will open proceedings. 8.2 After introductions, the Chair will ask the applicant to present their business proposal and application for the scheme. 8.3 If the plan relates to a joint business venture, there may be more than once person present in the meeting to respond to questions. 8.4 Where the venture may relate to more than one applicant as graduates of The University of West London, the panel may ask them to respond to questions separately if deemed appropriate. This is at the discretion of the panel. 6

7 8.5 Panel members may then ask the applicant to clarify any points that are not clear, and address any questions that may have arisen from the previously submitted business plan, or oral discussion. 8.6 The Chair must review the financial evidence and documentation to ensure that the applicant meets the criteria set out by the UK Border Agency. 8.7 Once the panel are satisfied that they have substantial information to make a final and informed decision on the application, the graduate/s will be asked to leave the room and wait for the outcome. 8.8 Panel members will then discuss the case and come to a final decision on whether they will endorse the student s application under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) scheme. 8.9 In instances where there is not a unanimous decision, the Chair will make the final decision Once the outcome is agreed upon, the applicant will be invited back into the room to hear the decision, and will be informed of the reasoning behind the final decision The candidate will be informed that they do not, at that time, have the right to appeal the decision, but that this can be done through The University s formal procedures following the meeting Should the panel be unable to make a decision due to lack of information, the applicant will be told what further information is required, and will be given a date on which submission of the additional documentation is required For successful cases, an informal discussion will then take place in relation to finalising the graduate s application A suitable mentor should have already been established for the applicant (prior to the meeting in the anticipation of a positive outcome). The applicant will receive their name and contact details Any other information necessary for the completion of their application to the UK Border Agency will be discussed, before the meeting is closed Each applicant will be sent an outcome letter For those who were unsuccessful, this will be a formal letter confirming completion of proceedings by The University of West London For successful applicants, an Official Endorsement Letter (see appendix 1) will be completed and sent to them, with a copy kept on file in The University. This letter will adhere to the UK Border Agency guidelines, and must be submitted by 7

8 the application with their completed evidence and application for the UK Border Agency The endorsement letter confirms to the UK Border Agency that The University of West London are willing to sponsor the person through the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme. 9 Process and monitoring following successful applications 9.1 A mentor will be assigned to each successful candidate. 9.2 The mentor should normally be someone with whom the student has already had contact (for example, a lecturer, tutor or supervisor). However, in instances where this may not be suitable, a mentor will be sought from a School or College that specifically relates to the business venture, so as to be able to provide the applicant with specialist and knowledgeable support. 9.3 The applicant will be informed of the expected time scale of progression meetings (a minimum of one every three months will be carried out, although wherever possible, these should be held monthly). 9.4 The first meeting should be held following the successful approval and endorsement by the UK Border Agency, and subsequent meetings confirmed at the first meeting with their mentor. 9.5 The mentor will determine the level of progressional evidence that is required for each meeting. The minimum level of documentation required is quarterly reports of the business, although monthly reports may be requested. 9.6 The University must be satisfied that the graduate is developing the business and working towards its growth and progression. 9.7 All documentation and evidence of meetings (signed by mentor and graduate) are to be retained along with business reports, by both the mentor and graduate, as required by the UK Border Agency. 9.8 Equally, should non-satisfactory evidence be submitted to demonstrate their continuing involvement in the company, business or partnership, or if they are no longer working for that enterprise and have taken up employment elsewhere, The University of West London has the right to revoke the endorsement and report the person to the UK Border Agency. 9.9 The successful applicant shall be made aware that The University of West London is legally obliged to report any non-attendance at progression meetings, should The University not be informed in advance Lack of communication, progression reports or suitable evidence of business progression will also be reported to the UK Border Agency. 8

9 9.11 The University of West London reserves the right to report any graduate granted leave for the scheme, to the UK Border Agency for non-attendance and/or revocation of sponsorship The initial leave granted through the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme is for 12 months. Should the applicant decide to apply for a final 12 month extension following successful business ventures in the first year, this must be done through the UK Border Agency Should the graduate be successful in being granted an additional 12 months of leave, The University must decide whether or not they wish to continue endorsing the applicant. Further information is found through the UK Border Agency website. 10 The right of Appeal 10.1 Where an applicant has reason to believe that his/her application has not been handled fairly, objectively or in accordance with the procedures described above, he/she should write to the University Secretary setting out his/her reasons. On the instruction of the University Secretary, the Academic Registrar, or his/her nominee will act as University Ombudsman and review the handling of the application in the light of the applicant s written statement and report, in writing, to the University Secretary within 15 working days. The University Secretary may confirm or rescind an earlier decision in the light of this report. The University Secretary will send a written reply to the applicant within 20 working days of receiving the request for the review of the application. Such decision shall be final The applicant may consult a member of the Students Union for guidance on this process. 11 Monitoring and Review 11.1 The UK Border Agency guidelines will be monitored regularly, and every update published on their official website, or through official guidelines will be reflected in this policy The University will review this policy regularly, in line with the UK Border Agency guidelines, and will alter the policy accordingly. Any changes to the policy will be approved prior to publication through The University of West London website All members of staff involved in the process of panel review and endorsement of graduates of The University of West London, under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme, must ensure that they refer to the latest version of the policy, and the UK Boarder Agency guidance. 9

10 APPENDIX 1 TEMPLATE ENDORSEMENT LETTER ENDORSEMENT LETTER FOR TIER 1 GRADUATE ENTREPRENEUR APPLICATION CONFIDENTIAL: For the attention of the UK Border Agency In relation to the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) application of *** (insert student name), of whom I have consent to endorse their application, I can confirm the validity of the below details required for the application, and that these have been checked prior to the issuing of this endorsement letter. Applicant Name: Applicant s Date of Birth: Applicant s Nationality: Applicant s Passport Number: Details of Dependents: Endorsement date of issue and expiry: Name and address of endorsing UK HEI: Qualification awarded: Business name and intended sector: Mentor name and contact details; It can be confirmed that a panel has assessed the Business Plan of *** (student name)(following the successful completion of his BA* (UG, PG or research) degree in *** (2.1 etc), in which he/she achieved a * and was awarded on ** ****** 20**) (exact date in words). His/Her* business proposal is to *** (insert synopsis of venture). Following the panel review, the University of West London confirms that the idea is genuine, credible and innovative, and that Muhammad will spend the majority of his working time developing his business venture. As such, it can be confirmed that the University will endorse the business of *** (insert company name). The University will undertake monthly update meetings with *(insert student name) to ensure the development of the business, and to provide mentorship where required. Yours Sincerely, (Authorising Official/Key Contact) 10

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