Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Applications
What is an Entrepreneur Visa?
A tier 1 entrepreneur visa allows business people from outside the UK to enter the UK in order to start a new enterprise or to invest in an existing UK business. In order to do so, applicants need access to between £50,000 and £200,000 in funds, which are to be used to invest in the new business.
The entrepreneur visa category provides a clear pathway to permanent settlement in the UK. While sole applicants can apply, it is also possible to apply in an entrepreneurial team of two people (with a combined £200,000 to invest). All applications are assessed using a points-based system.
Benefits of a UK Entrepreneur Visa
There are a wide array of benefits when you apply for an entrepreneur visa in the UK, such as:
Allows you to set up - or take over - one or more businesses in the UK
Bring immediate family members to the UK with you
Applicants can study to further enhance and improve their entrepreneurial skills
The visa serves as a route to permanently settling in the UK and British citizenship
Note that there are a couple of restrictions with an entrepreneur visa; you cannot do any other work (such as being employed by another business), nor will you have access to public funds and benefits.
Entrepreneur Visa Requirements & Eligibility
There are a large number of requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to make a successful entrepreneur visa application. Requirements involve investment funds, maintenance funds, meeting the necessary level of English language proficiency, and documentation for these. Initial applications also require a clear business plan, outlining your market research, target market, project revenue, profit and so on.
In order to start a new business or invest in an existing one, visa applicants must have access to one of the following:
£50,000 in regulated funds, such as those obtained from FCA-regulated venture capital firms or DIT-endorsed seed funding competitions
£200,000 in your own disposable funds, those made available by a third party (such as a spouse, partner or investor), or held in a joint account with your partner
In both cases, you can also apply if you’ve already invested the £50,000 in regulated funds or £200,000 in personal funds in a UK business within the past 12 months before you apply.
Aside from these investment fund requirements, you must also provide evidence that a specific amount of money has been held for at least 3 months in your personal account for maintenance purposes. These funds must be held in addition to the £50,000 or £200,000 that you intend to invest in the business. Entrepreneur visa applicants need to provide evidence for the following amounts of maintenance funds:
£3,310 for the applicant making an application for entry clearance from outside the UK
£945 for the applicant making an application from inside the UK
£1,890 for each family member if applying from outside the UK
£630 for each family member if the applying from inside the UK
The Genuine Entrepreneur Test
In order to ascertain the veracity of the genuineness of the case, the genuine entrepreneur test is conducted by the relevant caseworker at the Home Office. This may involve an interview with the Home Office. They will take the following factors into consideration in order to determine whether the applicant is “genuine”:
The viability and credibility of the source of the investment and maintenance funds
The viability and credibility of the applicant’s business plan
The applicant’s previous educational and business experience
The applicant’s knowledge about UK tax laws and minimum wage regulations
Whether the applicant has any required accreditations for business in the UK
The applicant’s immigration history and previous activity in the UK
English Language Requirements
In order to successfully apply for an entrepreneur visa, you must fulfill the necessary English language requirements. In order to do so, you must have passed an approved English language test at CEFR level B1. Alternative, you would need to hold a degree - equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree or above and recognised by UK NARIC - that was taught in English.
The entrepreneur visa category has a specific set of required documents which need to be submitted. These include:
A current passport
A business plan
Proof that you meet the necessary language requirements
Your TB test results (if you are applying from a country where you are required to take the test)
Evidence of available investment funds
Evidence of your maintenance funds
How Long Can You Stay in the UK?
If you are granted a tier 1 entrepreneur visa, you will be able to stay in the UK for an initial period of 3 years and 4 months (if applying from outside the UK) or 3 years (if applying from within the UK). After this period has expired, you can apply for a further extension of 2 years.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants can spend a period of 180 days in a calendar year outside the UK. Cases of compassionate circumstances or exceptional grounds can be given due consideration, although this rests at the discretion of the Home Office.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Settlement
As mentioned, applying for a UK entrepreneur visa provides a clear pathway to permanent residence in the UK. It is possible to follow an advanced settlement route of 3 years if one of the following requirements are met:
- Generation of a turnover of £5 million or above during a 3-year period
- Creation of 10 full-time positions for resident workers for a period of at least 12 months
For naturalisation, you will be required to wait for another 2 years and comply with the residence requirements, alongside other conditions. You will have to complete the minimum 5-year residency condition even if indefinite leave to remain is obtained on the basis of completing three years’ residence.
How Long Does it Take to Get an Entrepreneur Visa to the UK?
UK entrepreneur visa processing times vary depending on a number of different factors, with the country you are applying from being one of the main ones. In general, processing times can range from just a few weeks to several months. There can be delays in visa processing times in the UK, so you should do your research and speak to one of our experts in order to avoid this prior to making your entrepreneur visa application.
Extending an Entrepreneur Visa
In order to obtain a UK entrepreneur visa extension, you are require to score a total of 95 points under the points-based system. Points are awarded on the following basis:
Mandatory 10 points for fulfilling the English language requirements
Mandatory 10 points for fulfilling the maintenance fund requirements
20 points once you have shown your investment of £200,000 or £50,000
20 points on the basis that you have registered yourself as self-employed of a director of a business in the UK within 6 months from the date of your initial approval
15 points awarded on the basis that you are registered as self-employed or a director of a company within 3 months from the date of application
20 points awarded on the basis that you have created 2 full-time jobs for settled people in the UK. In order to be considered as full-time, employees need to be working for a minimum of 30 hours per week for one year
Note that the period which an entrepreneur visa can be extended depends on your visa status; if you’re switching to a Tier 1 entrepreneur visa from a different visa category, you can extend your visa for 3 years, while other applicants can only extend it for 2 years.
UK Entrepreneur Visa Refusal Reasons
You initial application for an entrepreneur visa may be refused. There are are number of reasons why this may happen - you may have supplied incorrect documentation or may have failed to disclose necessary information.
You should avoid these mistakes so that the Home Office does not refuse your visa application. In order to get expert immigration advice on your UK entrepreneur visa application, get in touch with us or learn more about common UK visa refusal reasons.
With an entrepreneur visa application, there is no Right of Appeal if entry clearance or leave to remain is refused. However, you do have the right to apply for Administrative Review. This right must be exercised within 28 days from the time the decision is made (if the application is made from outside the UK) or within 14 days (if the application is made within the UK). The Home Office will take up to 28 days to give a decision. The applicant can rely on the information and documents submitted with the application - no fresh documentary evidence can be submitted for the administrative review unless required by the Home Office. In order to succeed in securing a Tier 1 visa, it is strongly advised to seek professional immigration help.