The application process

  • The six stages

    The stages in the application process are set out below - please take the time to review these carefully:

  • You should in the first instance contact the Tier 1 team by email for information either through email, by referral from your Faculty or theInternational Student Advice Team (ISAT).

    After initial information and checks to confirm you qualify (i.e. that you are a graduate from the University), you will be invited to submit your personal details and initial business proposal (this is a simple summary of your concept in a couple of paragraphs). As well as providing a scanned copy of your passport with your current visa. You should also supply proof that you are a recent graduate of Oxford Brookes University. Any queries around visa eligibility are referred to ISAT and queries around the application process and rules are referred to the UK Visa & Immigration.

    If a candidate’s initial business proposal has merit within the scheme’s criteria, an exploratory interview is set up, either in person, via Skype or telephone. The aim of this is to explore the candidate’s concept in more detail, their motivations in wanting to establish a business, to clarify any missing information in the personal details, to give guidance on the criteria for an endorsable business concept, and pitfalls to avoid with their particular concept. You will then be invited to complete a first version of the business plan template.

    If the candidate’s concept is particularly advanced already, or if there are particular questions around financial viability of the concept, they may also be asked at this stage to submit a draft cash flow projection.

    When the first version of the business plan is submitted, it is reviewed by the Tier 1 Team.

    At this stage there might be some email correspondence and Skype calls, possibly also a face-to-face meeting, to ensure the candidate has fully understood the scheme’s criteria and that the business concept is eligible. It is not always possible to assess a candidate’s suitability for the scheme from the evidence of the first version of the business plan alone.

    The candidate may need to be prompted and coached to make adjustments to basic elements in their concept before they can be accepted for mentoring under the scheme. Depending on the speed of the candidate’s responses, this process may take several weeks.

    At this stage you will be required to make a non- refundable payment of a part of the total fee of £600 plus (£500 plus VAT). It is important before acceptance into formal mentoring, that the Tier 1 (GE) Team is confident of your likely progress through the rest of the process, before inviting you to proceed into mentoring. When the Tier 1 (GE) team has decided that the applicant should be accepted for mentoring, a formal communication will be sent to you inviting you into the scheme and requesting payment, together with any appropriate notice or terms and conditions applicable at this stage.

    When you have entered the scheme and paid the initial part of the scheme fee, you will be assigned a mentor who will guide you in developing your business plan and supporting cash flow projections for submission to the Commercialisation Review Panel. The mentor may point to further research that needs to be done, operations questions that need answering, aspects of intellectual property rights, financial considerations that need to be taken into account etc. The business plan is likely to go through a number of versions, which will take several weeks. The reason for this is to ensure that the business proposal is viable and robust. We are seeking to ensure that it will be able to support you and your family and potentially attract further investment after the Tier 1 GE visa finishes and you move onto another visa type.

    When the mentor is satisfied that the business plan and supporting cash flows represent a sufficiently researched and credible case, they will write a recommendation in support of the application. The recommendation letter, once approved by the Tier 1 (GE) Team, together with the final business plan and cash flows, will be submitted to the Commercialisation Review Panel for approval and sign-off. Where appropriate, particularly when external deadlines are imminent, the Chair of the Panel may take a decision by Chair’s action and report this to the Panel at a later time.

    The Panel, or the Chair on behalf of the Panel, will consider the recommendation letter from the Tier 1 Team, alongside the final business proposal and cash flow projections, and decide whether to:

    • Endorse the business concept, and issue a letter of endorsement.
    • Decline to endorse it.
    • Defer its decision pending submission of further information.

    You will receive written notice of the Panel’s decision shortly after it has met. There is no right of appeal, if unsuccessful, although feedback can be given or requested. If successful, the endorsement letter will be prepared and signed, and will be released when the candidate has signed their agreement to the University’s Terms and Conditions and made payment of the final part of the scheme fee - £1200 (£1000 plus VAT).

    If as a visa-holder you feel that you require more time to develop your business idea, you may apply to UKVI for a visa extension for a second year. However you will require a further endorsement from the University. In this case, a separate review is carried out with the mentor 3 months before expiry of your visa to review progress and assess whether an extension is warranted. The visa-holder must submit a revised business plan and make clear how they would use the second year to develop their business.

    The mentor will prepare a recommendation as in Stage 5 above for review and submission to the Panel along with the revised business plan and supporting documents. In this case the fee will be payable in a single instalment to enable the release of the endorsement letter, if the application is approved. Candidates will be required to pay a further £1800 (£1500 plus VAT).

    Monitoring and mentoring support will be provided throughout the extension period as at Stage 7 if the visa application extension is successful.

    Under UKVI rules, there is no option to extend the Tier 1 (GE) visa for a third year. If you wish to stay on in the UK to continue to develop the business, you must apply for a different category of visa or alternatively you must leave the UK.