Tier 1 Entrepreneur

Our team of business immigration solicitors specialises in advising individuals ranging from high-net-worth clients to professional executives, onshore and offshore businesses in all aspects of business immigration. To speak with our business immigration lawyers in London, Call us on 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa category allows international business people with between £50,000 to £200,000 in funds available for investment to enter the UK in order to establish or take over a UK business – either exclusively or as a partner. The funds must be held by a regulated institution, such as a bank or venture capital firm, and must be free to spend – not tied up in securities, shares, or similar arrangements.

The main applicant must be principally engaged in the UK business, their family members, being partners and children under 18 years of age (the “dependants”), are free to undertake any employment, self-employment, studies or be self-sufficient in the UK.

Entrepreneur visa requirements

The initial application is normally made from the applicant’s country of nationality and/or residence. However, in certain circumstances, individuals may be able to apply if they are already in the UK.

The basic criteria are that the applicant must:

  • be at least 16 years of age;
  • show that:
    – they have access to £200,000, which is transferable to the UK (if not already in the UK); or
    – they have access to £50,000 from a registered venture capital firm, a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition or a UK Government Department.

The funds do not have to be held by the applicant and can be held by a third party, as long as the applicant can demonstrate to the Home Office that the funds are available to them.  The Home Office has very detailed mandatory requirements regarding the documentation that must be submitted to satisfy this requirement.  It is therefore vital that applicants ensure that all the required documentation is submitted in the correct format;

  • have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependents during  their stay in the UK;
  • be able to meet the English language requirement; and
  • be able to demonstrate that they are a “genuine entrepreneur”.

Genuine entrepreneur test

The ‘genuine entrepreneur test’ must be satisfied at each stage of the program, such as your initial application, extension and ultimately the settlement, i.e. to stay long-term in the united kingdom. This evaluation has become more challenging, also has improved refusal rates.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application must demonstrate the entrepreneur has the relevant entrepreneurial skills, background and experience to meet the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ requirement. A business plan must be submitted with the application to evidence your proposals. Entrepreneurs must demonstrate they’re genuine, and possess sound commercial acumen. A viable business suggestion is a fantastic start. Thus the Home Office needs a business plan that details your suggestions within their required format. Our commercial experience enables us to evaluate whether your entrepreneur business plan will meet the Home Office’s requirements.

Initial visa

Up to 3 years and 4 months initially, and up to 6 years and 4 months in total with extensions.

The length of this visa can be extended for depends on the applicant’s visa status. Those switching to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa from another category can extend their visa for 3 years. All others can only extend it for 2 years.

Entrepreneur Extension

In order to be granted an extension, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that they:

  • have registered with Companies House as a director of a UK company or registered with HM Revenue & Customs as self-employed within six months of being granted immigration permission as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holder and continue to be registered and engaged in business activity in the UK;
  • have invested the full £200,000 / £50,000 into the UK business. The investment cannot include the cost of any residential accommodation or be invested in businesses involved in property development, management or investment. The investment also cannot be used for the applicant’s remuneration or to purchase the business;
  • have created the equivalent of two new full-time roles for settled workers in the UK that have existed for at least 12 months. Settled workers include British citizens, EEA and Swiss citizens and individuals who do not have any time restrictions on their stay in the UK.  The jobs do not have to be in existence at the time that the extension application is submitted but must have existed at some point during the initial period of immigration permission, and
  • continue to be a genuine entrepreneur.

Provided the extension application is successful, the applicant and their dependants should be granted immigration permission for a further two years.

Indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

Applicants may be eligible to apply for ILR:

  • once they have held immigration  permission as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant for five years; or
  • once they have held immigration permission as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant for three years if they have:
    – created the equivalent of 10 new full-time jobs for settled workers in the UK that have existed for at least 12 months; or
    – established a new business that had an income of at least £5m over a three year period or increased the income of an established business by at least £5m over a three year period.This is known as the accelerated route to ILR. Please note that even if the applicant is eligible to apply for ILR after three years under the accelerated route to ILR, their dependents would still need to wait five years before they can apply for ILR.

In order to obtain ILR, the applicant will need to meet the residency requirements, which are that they must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any rolling 12 month period during the three or five years qualifying period for ILR.

It is important to note that, following a recent change to the UK Immigration Rules, dependants may also be required to meet the residency requirements at the ILR stage.

The applicant and their dependents over the age of 18 years will also need to meet the English language requirement and pass the Life in the UK Test.

British Citizenship

Once the applicant, and/or their dependents, have been present in the UK for at least five continuous years and have held ILR for at least one year, they may be eligible to apply for British citizenship and, subsequently, a British passport. The requirements are set out below.

The applicant / their dependant must:

  • be of sound mind and good character such that, for instance, they do not have a serious or recent criminal record and has not been in breach of any UK immigration laws;
  • intend to have their (main) home in the UK; and
  • meet the following stricter residence requirements, which are that they have not:
    • spent more than 450 days in total outside the UK during the five years prior to applying for British citizenship; and
    • spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12 months prior to applying for British citizenship.

Further information, help, and advice

As one of the leading immigration solicitors in Holborn London, we also work on a broad range of other immigration application with an experienced in-house team of solicitors to represent applicants who have grounds to apply visas that involve marriage, civil partnership, asylum, human rights and the European Union free movement.

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