The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is designed for individuals planning to start a UK business from scratch, take over an existing business or invest in a business they are already involved with in some way. The most important requirement to qualify for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is access to a minimum of £200,000 (£50,000 for some applicants) which must be held by a recognised and regulated financial institution in the UK.
In order to qualify for settled status (aka indefinite leave to remain), the Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant must spend a minimum of five consecutive years in the UK. However, it’s possible to reduce this requirement to just three years if the business established generates a minimum annual turnover of £5 million for three consecutive years, or creates a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for a period of one year.
Most Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas provide the recipient with a standard three years and four months of leave to remain in the UK. After which, there is the option of applying for an extension, which can grant a maximum of two more years’ leave to remain. The combined leave will subsequently satisfy the requirement to apply for indefinite leave to remain, granting successful applicants settled status in the United Kingdom.
Please note that this two-year extension of the original Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is neither automatic not guaranteed. As a result, it’s important that individuals living and working in the United Kingdom on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur abide by the terms and conditions of their visa at all times. It is typically on the basis of their compliance with all applicable Tier 1 Entrepreneur rules that their eligibility for an extension and subsequent settled status is determined.
Immigration legislation for entrepreneurs has been overhauled and modified several times over recent years. As of 2019, a basic overview of the most important rules and regulations by which Tier 1 Entrepreneurs must abide is as follows:
- The entrepreneur must have a minimum of £200,000 invested in a UK business in order to qualify. This amount is reduced to £50,000 in some instances. Any breach of this threshold could affect the applicant’s eligibility for a subsequent extension.
- It is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to provide evidence of the investment amount and where the money has been invested. If such evidence cannot be provided, it will typically be assumed that the investment never happened.
- Entrepreneurs must also provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the requirements of the General Entrepreneur Test, which takes into account invoices and receipts, contracts, insurance documents, websites, property leases, and so on.
- The investment must result in a net increase of a minimum of two jobs for EEA or settled workers, in order to be considered acceptable.
The above list is far from exhaustive and the complexities surrounding qualification for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur must not be underestimated. For more information or to discuss your case in more detail, contact a member of the team at Aristone Solicitors today.
Genuine Entrepreneur Test
As already touched upon, individuals seeking entry to the UK by way of a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa are required to pass what’s known as the ‘Genuine Entrepreneur Test’. The test was introduced by the Home Office to ensure that those applying for such a visa have the genuine intention and ability to launch a new business in the UK, rather than simply gain access to the country for more general purposes. The Genuine Entrepreneur Test examines key elements of the applicant’s business strategy, existing assets and the general viability of their entrepreneurial intentions.
If you are unable to provide sufficient evidence of your past, current and intended business activities, you may struggle to qualify for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa.
Switching into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa
There are various visa categories that allow individuals already in the United Kingdom to switch to a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. You may be eligible to switch if your case is of sufficient strength and your previous leave to remain was assigned on the one of the following categories:
- Highly skilled migrant
- Tier 1 (general) migrant
- Tier 1 (entrepreneur) migrant
- Tier 1 (investor) migrant
- Tier 1 (graduate entrepreneur) migrant
- Tier 1 (post-study work) migrant
- Participant in the fresh talent: working in Scotland scheme
- Participant in the international graduates scheme (or its predecessor, the science and engineering graduates scheme)
- Postgraduate doctor or dentist
- Self-employed lawyer
- Work permit holder
- Writer, composer or artist
- Tier 2 migrant
- A visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur
Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas are granted by way of a points-based system, requiring a minimum of 95 points to be earned on the part of the applicant. There are various factors considered by the Home Office and points awarded accordingly, which include the following:
A. Access to £200,000 or £50,000*
Every applicant must be able to provide evidence of access to a minimum of £200,000 (or £50,000 in some circumstances) held at a recognised and regulated financial institution in the UK. For applicants already residing in the UK, it is necessary for the funds to be held in their personal/private bank account.
- The money is held in one or more regulated financial institutions = 25 points
- The money is disposable in the UK = 25 points
Applicants are entitled to rely on third-party funding sources to raise the required £200,000 or £50,000, which may include spouses, civil partners and other third parties located within the United Kingdom and overseas
*Individuals already in the UK under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant scheme who intend to switch to a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa need only provide evidence of £50,000 of accessible funds at the time. If the £50,000 is already invested in the applicant’s business, sufficient evidence must be provided to verify this. Likewise, if part of the £50,000 has been invested in the business and the remaining funds are held elsewhere, evidence of both must be provided to verify sufficient total funds to cover the £50,000 requirement.
Applicants in the UK as Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) migrants interested in switching to Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas are also subject to the lower £50,000 requirement. Further evidence must be provided to submit such applications as follows:
- Evidence of continuous engagement in the relevant business activity since July 11, 2014, and up until the date of the application.
- Evidence of continuous work in an occupation at NQF level 4 or above as per the Codes of Practice since July 11, 2014.
B. English language requirement.
In accordance with Appendix B of the Immigration Rules, Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicants must score a minimum of 10 points by satisfying formal English language requirements.
Documentation must be provided as evidence of competent English language skills to the specified standard. Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicants can formally verify their English language skills in three ways as follows:
- By being a national of an English-speaking country recognised by the UK.
- By passing a recognised language test approved by the UKVI (IELTS or Trinity College) at B1 level of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework CEFR.
- By holding a degree-level qualification that was taught at a UK educational institution or elsewhere if delivered 100% in English.
It’s also possible to fulfil all formal requirements for competent English language skills without the provision of evidence, if the applicant’s previous leave to remain in the UK was granted:
- Under Tier 1 (General), Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and they intend to apply for an extension; or
- As a Businessperson (under Paragraphs 200-210 of the Immigration Rules); or
- As a Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) participant under the Immigration Rules (introduced December 5, 2006) and they are applying for an extension of leave to remain under a Tier 1 category.
No formal evidence of English language skills is required in the event that the applicant was previously given leave to remain in the UK:
You can also meet the English language requirement without the need to provide evidence if you have ever been given permission to stay:
- as a Tier 2 (General) migrant under the terms brought into effect on April 6, 2011, on the condition that you have previously provided evidence of sufficient English language skills equivalent to level B1 of the CEFR for Language Learning or above; or
- as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant who scored sufficient points in their previous application to verify their English language skills; or
- as a Tier 4 (General) student, and the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) used to support that application was assigned on or after 21 April 2011; or
- leave as a Minister of Religion (not as a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) migrant) under the Rules in place on or after 19 April 2007; or
- as a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) migrant, under the condition that their prior leave to remain was granted in accordance with points and for English language skills equivalent to level B1 (or above) of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning, or the applicant was a national of an English-speaking country or the holder of a degree-level qualification taught in English.
C. Maintenance Requirements
Maintenance refers to the amount of money the applicant must have access to, in order to satisfy Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa requirements in accordance with Appendix C of the Immigration Rules. A minimum of 10 points must be scored for maintenance for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application to be successful.
It is essential that the applicant provides evidence that they are able to support their activities and their lifestyle for the duration of their stay, with no requirement to claim benefits under any circumstances. They must also show that they have enough money to support any dependants who rely on them financially (where applicable).
Current maintenance requirements imposed by the Home Office are as follows:
- For applicants residing outside the United Kingdom looking to gain entry clearance, a minimum of £3,310 in personal savings must be held for at least 90 consecutive days before submission of their application;
- Where the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicant is already in the UK and seeking further leave to remain, evidence must be provided of personal savings of at least £945 held for a minimum of 90 consecutive days;
- If the applicant has been in the United Kingdom for less than 12 months or is outside the UK at the time of their application, evidence must be provided of personal savings of at least £1,890 for every dependant who relies on them financially. Again, the funds must have been held consecutively for a minimum of 90 days, though family members can rely on their own personal savings where evidence can be provided;
- Where the applicant has spent more than 12 consecutive months in the United Kingdom, a minimum maintenance requirement of £630 in personal savings for every dependant held for a minimum of 90 consecutive days applies. Once again, family members can rely on their own personal savings where applicable.
Please note that it is not acceptable for the same savings/funds to be used to satisfy the requirements for £200,000 or £50,000 business funds and the maintenance required to finance your lifestyle and support your dependants. The requirements are completely separate and will be considered as such.
D. Genuine Entrepreneur Test
Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applications will only be considered where the applicant successfully passes the Genuine Entrepreneur Test.
The test is a mandatory requirement as part of an initial Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application, conducted by the Entry Clearance Office and designed to consider a variety of factors/indicators such as:
- the overall quality of the evidence provided by the applicant;
- the credibility and viability of the sources used to secure the required funds;
- the completeness and viability of the business plan and strategy of the applicant, along with evidence of sufficient market research and sector knowledge;
- any relevant business experience or educational background that may support their business venture;
- previous business activities and history of immigration or leave to remain granted in the UK;
- registration or accreditation of any previous businesses or business activities in the United Kingdom;
- any other supportive documentation or evidence deemed relevant.
By taking into account these and other important factors, the Entry Clearance Officer will seek to determine whether or not:
- The applicant has the intention and the ability to start, take over or take control of at least one UK-based business no later than six months from the date of the application;
- The applicant has the genuine intention to invest the minimum amount of capital (as detailed previously) in the respective business venture;
- The applicant has immediate and guaranteed access to the necessary funds, which have been sourced legitimately;
- The applicant has no intention of pursuing conventional employment during their stay and will only work for their own business.
As of September 1, 2015, the applicant and any adult dependants they intend to support financially must submit a criminal record certificate from any overseas country in which they have resided continuously for 12 months or more, during the 10-year period prior to their application.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Application Form
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa can appear complex and daunting at first glance. It’s important to remember that as the information you provide will play a key role in determining your eligibility, its completion should be approached with extreme care and attention. In order to complete and submit your application, you’ll need to visit the Home Office website by clicking the link below. It’s always useful to take a look at the application form to see the kind of information required, bur we also strongly advise speaking to an experienced immigration lawyer before completing and submitting your application.
Applicants interested in extending their Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas must score a minimum of 75 points, which can be earned as follows:
- The provision of evidence of the direct investment in one or more businesses in the UK totalling at least £200,000 = 20 points awarded
- Registration as a self-employed worker or business director no later than six months following the date your Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas was granted = 20 points awarded
- Evidence of a minimum of three months working as a business director or self-employed worker prior to submitting the application = 15 points awarded
- The creation of two or more full-time jobs for settled persons in the United Kingdom = 20 points awarded
You must score at least 75 points for the above-mentioned attributes (Appendix A of the Immigration Rules).
- Meeting the Minimum Maintenance Requirement
– In order to qualify, the applicant must provide evidence of personal savings of at least £945 held for a minimum of 90 consecutive days before submitting their application.
– Where an applicant has lived for more than 12 months in the United Kingdom, they also need to provide evidence of personal savings totalling £630 or more for every dependant they support financially, held for a minimum of 90 days. Family members (dependants) are entitled to rely on their own personal savings to fulfil this requirement.
- English Language Requirement
As you will have already provided evidence of your English language skills as part of your initial application, it is not necessary to provide further evidence when applying for an extension.
- Passing the Genuine Entrepreneur Test
To qualify for an extension, it will be necessary to pass the Genuine Entrepreneur Test, which sees the Home Office scrutinise your status, your intentions and the viability of your business in the following ways:
- Whether you have successfully established or taken control of one or more viable UK businesses;
- The extent to which you have invested money in one or more businesses in the UK, in accordance with the minimum specified requirements;
- If you clearly have the intention to continue running one or more UK-based businesses;
- That you have no intention of seeking any other type of employment in the UK other than that of running your business or businesses.
In order to determine your eligibility for an extension, the Home Office will consider the following factors as part of the Genuine Entrepreneur Test:
- The quality and completeness of the evidence you submit
- The viability of your business intentions and activities
- The legality and viability of the way your funds are sourced
- The credibility of your business documents and financial reports
- The extent to which your business activities create jobs
- The acquisition of registration, accreditation, insurance and so on for your UK business or businesses
- The provision of any other evidence or documentation deemed relevant
Learn more about the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application by visiting the Home Office website and inspecting the online application form. Before completing and submitting your application, contact one of our experienced immigration lawyers to ensure your case is presented appropriately.
Why Apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa?
There are several key benefits that make the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas an appealing basis for legal entry and residence in the United Kingdom. Examples of which include but are by no means limited to the following:
- Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holders can spend up to 180 days out of every calendar year outside the UK;
- The applicant can bring dependants with them to reside in the UK for the duration of their stay, including children under the age of 18, their spouse and other dependants;
- Dependants who accompany Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa-holders during their stay are subject to limited study and work restrictions;
- Applicants have the option of joining forces with other Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicants to form ‘entrepreneurial teams’ and combine resources to meet the minimum investment requirement of £200,000 or £50,000.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Lawyers in Luton
Once again, the importance of securing appropriate legal representation before submitting your application cannot be overstated. Along with ensuring all relevant information is provided to process your application, you must also consider the supportive documentation and hard evidence required to prove your case.
Here at Aristone Solicitors, our elite business immigration team has the experience and expertise needed to streamline and simplify even the most complex applications. We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure your UK business gets off to a strong and prosperous start.
For more information or to discuss your requirements in more detail, contact a member of our business immigration team to book your obligation-free consultation.