The UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is for applicants who want to set up a new business or take control of an existing business in the UK. You must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply for this Tier 1 visa, as well as meet the other eligibility criteria.
Get it right the first time
Imperial Visas specialises in Tier 1 Entrepreneur business visas and has helped hundreds of individuals from all over the world get their visa on the first try. Our team of trusted Tier 1 visa experts will handle your case with complete confidentiality, advising you about best practice and how to proceed every step of the way.
Here’s what our immigration advisers can do for you:
- Prepare all necessary paperwork and ensure you have all the correct supporting documentation ready
- Advise you of any significant new rule changes by the UK Home Office which may affect your application
- Help you pass the ‘Genuine Entrepreneur’ requirement by providing a bespoke business plan just for you and your business
- Fully prepare you for an interview (if applicable) with our years of experience
- Secure a Home Office appointment (sometimes even same-day) to apply in person or send your application for you
- Include your spouse and/or any dependants on your Tier 1 Entrepreneur application
To find out more or to request a consultation with one of our advisers, contact us on +44 (0) 20 3627 4777, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or keep reading for further information about the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.
Who can apply?
This Entrepreneur Visa is a potential route to permanent settlement in the UK and can even be used for spouses and dependants accompanying the main applicant. Unmarried partners or any dependent children are also entitled to enter the UK and receive education, and healthcare, as well as seek employment within the UK. However, the main applicant is not allowed to take employment, and will have to be either a director of a business or self-employed in the UK.
Applicants that already have leave to remain under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category are eligible to switch to another category inside the UK, provided they can fulfil the requirements of the switching category. This type of UK business visa is granted for an initial period of 3 years and 4 months for those who apply from outside the UK, and 3 years if applying from within the UK. Upon its expiration, the applicant may be granted a further extension within the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category of 2 years.
Types of Entrepreneur Visas
1. You have access to £200,000 – this money can be in your own account or any third party’s account in the UK (see below Third Party Funding)
2. Access to £50,000 – from venture capital firms regulated by financial services authority, seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on UK trade and investment or funds made available by UK government department.
3. Access to £50000 if you are present in the UK on Tier 1 Post Study Worker Visa, (Switching from Tier 1 Post Study Work to Tier 1 Entrepreneur category is restricted from 11 July 2014) The £50000 should be from venture capital firms regulated by financial services authority, seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on UK trade and investment or funds made available by UK government department. You will be allowed to switch in this category if your business was operational before 11 July 2014. The category also requires the applicant to be registered as a director of the company or self employed 3 months before they make an application. In relation to registration proof certain documents need to be provided by the applicant.
In this category the applicant also needs to provide advertisements, contracts and certain other documents to prove that the business they wish to operate in the UK is at or above NQF level 4 of the job titles of the occupation lists provided by the Home Office. Please contact one of our advisers at Imperial Visas for further information on this category: +44 (0) 20 3627 4777.
There are certain other documnets needed in order to satisfy the requirements for switching into this category.
4. Access to £50000 if you are applying leave to remain in the UK and were previously granted Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa.
The mandatory requirements need to be fulfilled by all applicants in any of the above categories:
English Language Proficiency – The applicant needs to show that he/she has met the English Language requirement at Level B1 of the CEFR in reading, speaking, listening and writing components. The English language requirement can also be met by other documents such as your degree from the UK or outside the UK. Please contact an adviser at Imperial Visas for further information: +44 (0)20 3627 4777
Maintenance Funds – All applicants are required to score the full 10 points in this section by providing evidence which confirms that they have sufficient money to properly look after themselves and any dependants whilst in the UK. It is necessary to provide evidence that a specific amount of money has been held for at least 3 months prior to the date of making the application (which may be an initial or extension application).
The applicant must provide evidence that they have access to the following amounts of money to successfully apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa:
- £3,310 if the applicant is making an application for entry clearance from outside the UK
- £945 if the applicant is making an application in-country either to extend their existing leave or an initial application to switch into this category within the UK
- £1,890 for each family member where the main applicant has been in the UK for a period less than 12 months
- £630 for each family member if the applicant and the family members are residing in the UK and the main applicant has been in the UK for a period more than 12 months.
The applicant applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa needs to meet this requirement in order to show that they are a genuine entrepreneur. The ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test will be conducted by the caseworker at Home Office, taking into consideration the factors set out below when deciding whether the applicant is a genuine entrepreneur:
- the evidence the applicant has submitted;
- the viability and credibility of the source of the money referred to in Table 4 of Appendix A;
- the viability and credibility of the applicant’s business plan and market research into their chosen business sector (this is now a compulsory requirement);
- the applicant’s previous educational and business experience (or lack thereof);
- where the applicant has already registered in the UK as self-employed or as the director of a business, and the nature of the business requires mandatory accreditation, registration and/or insurance, whether that accreditation, registration and/or insurance has been obtained;
- the applicant’s immigration history and previous activity in the UK; and
- Any other relevant information.
Any corporate body (within the UK or overseas)
Any Family members (within the UK or overseas)
Any other investor (within the UK or overseas)
Please note that third party funding is only allowed to make up the £200,000 to invest in the UK business. The applicant must have their own money to score points under the maintenance section. If the applicant is applying for leave to remain, these funds must be held in the UK.
You will need to score a total of 95 points, which includes mandatory 10 points for English Language and 10 points for maintenance. The extension will be granted for a period of 2 years leading to indefinite leave to remain.
The points breakdown works as following:
20 points – You will receive 20 points by showing that you have invested £200,000 or £50,000 (depending under which category you made the initial application.)
20 Points – These points will be awarded to you on the basis that you have registered yourself as self-employed or a director of a business in the UK within 6 months from date of grant of your initial approval.
15 points – Will be awarded to you on the basis that you are registered as self-employed or a director of a company within the last 3 months from date of application
20 points – Are awarded to you if you have created 2 full-time jobs for persons settled in the UK. The employees need to be working for at least 30 hours each and must have been engaged in employment over the 3-year period of initial grant for a total of 1 year.
Additionally, you need to score 10 points for English and 10 points for Maintenance requirement.
Duration of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and settlement
First-time applicants will be given 3 years and 4 months’ stay whether they apply for entry clearance or switch from another immigration category inside the UK.
Those who are already on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa will be granted an extension for 2 years which enables them to complete five years’ residence in the UK; they will therefore be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. All other applicants will be granted an extension of 3 years in the UK.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants may also be eligible for the accelerated settlement route upon completion of 3 years’ time, provided they fulfil one of the following requirements:
- Generate turnover of at least £5 million over a 3-year period; or
- Create 10 full-time positions for UK-resident workers for a period of at least 12 months
The requirements relating to naturalisation applications have not been affected and even if an applicant obtains ILR upon completing three years’ residence, they would still be required to wait for another 2 years and comply with the residence and other requirements in order to make an application for naturalisation.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants will be allowed to remain outside the UK for maximum period of 180 days in any calendar year with the right to apply for permanent settlement after 3 years (if they create 10 full time jobs for 1 year or generate a turnover of £5 million), or alternatively after a period of 5 years.
Applicants with leave to remain or leave to enter under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category will be allowed to work only for the business in which they have invested money, or as a self-employed individual on a project in which they have invested money. They will not be allowed to take up any supplementary employment. However, their dependants will be allowed to seek work or engage in self-employment activities for the duration of their visas in the UK. The only restriction for them is that they cannot work as trainee doctors, dentists or professional sportspersons/sports coaches while in the UK.
Applicants can also apply in an entrepreneurial team of two people, but each must have equal access to the investment funds they are planning to invest. They can apply at the same time for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa using the same level of funds (i.e. either £200K or £50K funded by one of the above-mentioned establishments in the source of funds section). Each applicant will still need to pass the language and maintenance requirements individually in order to be successful.
Only the following will be able to use time spent on their visas towards the 5 years’ residence criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
- Persons having previous leave to remain as a Business Person
- Persons having previous leave to remain as an Innovator
This means that if a work permit or Tier 2 visa holder, having already spent 3 years on a work permit or Tier 2 visa, switches into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category, they will lose that 3 years for settlement purposes and have to complete 5 years on an Entrepreneur visa in order to become eligible for settlement in the UK.
Those who have completed a total of five years in a combination of a Business Person visa, an Innovator visa or a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain 28 days before completing their five years.
Administrative Review (Entry clearance applications only)
If an application for entry clearance is refused by the ECO in the British Diplomatic post, the applicant will be given a right of Administrative Review of the decision that must be exercised within 28 days from the date of service of decision. The applicant will only be able to rely on the information and documents already submitted with the application and will not be allowed to submit any fresh documentary evidence. It is therefore strongly advised to seek professional help when making any review request to the ECO.
Appeals (In-country Applications only)
Applicants whose applications for leave to remain are refused will generally be given full rights of appeal, provided they do not have any leave to remain left in the UK at the time of the decision made by the Home Office. In these appeals, Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicants are not allowed to make use of fresh documentary evidence and information in support of the appeal. They can only rely on the evidence submitted at the time of their application (unless to show an alleged false document is genuine, or the appeal is on the grounds of human rights, asylum or race discrimination). The applicant will have 10 working days from the date of service of the decision to lodge an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal against that decision.
It is strongly advised to seek independent and professional assistance to lodge any appeal against a decision made by the Home Office.