TIER 1 Entrepreneur

This is the category of the Points based System for individuals wishing to invest in business in the UK.  

Migration Advisory Committee: Tier 1 Entrepreneurs – Review of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Graduate Entrepreneur routes

From 01.09.2015 Overseas Criminal Record Certificate Requirement

‘Genuine entrepreneur’ test

The ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test will be conducted by the Home Office caseworker taking into consideration the factors set out below in deciding whether or not he or she is satisfied the applicant is a genuine one:-

  • 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 plans and market research into their chosen business sector; 
  • 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.

Applicants are required to score at least 95 points in total to successfully apply for the required visa and can claim points in the following ways:

1. Attributes

Initial Application

The applicant has to score 75 points under this section in the following manner:

  • By providing evidence that the applicant has got access to at least £200,000: 25 points (max.) or have access to of £50k held in a regulated financial institution (25 points max.) which has been funded by:
    • An FSA registered Venture Capitalist firm
    • A UK Government Department
    • A Devolved Administration Department or
    • An entrepreneurial seed funding competition recognised by UK Trade and Investment.
  • By providing evidence that the money is being held in one or more regulated financial institutions: 25 points (max.)
  • By providing evidence that the money is disposable in the UK: 25 points (max.)

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrants applying to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category need only show access to £50,000. These funds can already be invested in business or part-invested together with access to cash funds of the balance of the £50,000.

Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) migrants applying to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category need only show access to £50,000. They will also need to show that they have been continuously engaged in business activity since before 11/07/2014 and up to the date of application, and that during this period they have been continuously registered with HMRC as self-employed or registered with Companies House as a director of a new or an existing business.  They will also need to show that since 11/07/2014 and up to the date of the application they have continuously been working in an occupation at NQF level 4 or above as per the Codes of Practice in Appendix J. ‘Working’ means that the core service of the business provides a service in a occupation at this level.

The funding can now be made available to the applicant's business, rather than directly in the applicant's name, provided that there is evidence to link the applicant sufficiently to that business.

For applications made from within the UK, the funds to be invested into the business must also be in the UK.

The applicant must claim 75 points in total using the points earned in all of the above mentioned subsections.

2. English Language

For Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), applicants are required to provide evidence that they speak, communicate and understand English language to a certain level. This requirement can be met in one of the following three ways:

  • By being a national of one of the majority English speaking countries, i.e. USA, Australia, Canada, etc. 
  • By having a degree level qualification from an English speaking country
  • By having passed an English language Test level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference required, please refer to the Approved English Tests Providers List)

This will give 10 points to the applicant.

Following persons however will automatically be given 10 points under this section:

  • Those who have leave to remain/entry clearance under Tier 1 (General) or Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and are seeking an extension of leave to remain.
  • Those who have leave to remain/entry clearance under HSMP given after 5th December 2006 and are seeking to switch to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).

10 points under the English language requirement will also be awarded automatically to those who were granted their initial leave under the Business Person category under the previous Immigration Rules. They were required to satisfy the stringent English language criteria but the rules have been relaxed to acknowledge that the English language requirement was not a requirement when they were granted their initial leave.

3. Maintenance

Applicants need to score 10 points under this section by providing evidence confirming sufficient money for the maintenance and accommodation of themselves and any dependants. It is necessary to provide evidence that a specific amount of money was held for at least 3 months prior to making the application (initial or extension).

The applicant must provide evidence that he has access to the following amounts of money to make the visa application for himself and his family members:

  • £3310 from 01 July 2014, if the applicant is making an entry clearance application from outside the UK
  • £945, if the applicant is making an in-country application either to extend his existing visa or an initial application while remaining in the UK
  • £1890 for each family member where the main applicant has been in the UK for 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 more than 12 months

Please note that the applicant must have the above mentioned funds in addition to the £200,000 that he intends to invest in the business.

Source of Funding

It is not necessary for the applicant to show £200,000 (or £50,000) of his own money to seek entry clearance or further leave to remain under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category. He can rely on third party funding for the required £200,000. The third parties may be one of the following:

  • Family members (within the UK or overseas)
  • Any other investor (within the UK or overseas)
  • Any corporate body (within the UK or overseas)

Please note that third party funding is only allowed to make up the £200,000 to invest in the business, the applicant must have money of his own to score points under the maintenance funds section.

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.

Those who are already on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa will be granted an extension for 2 years to enable them complete five years’ residence in the UK and thus apply for ILR.  All other applicants will be granted an extension of stay of 3 years.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will also be eligible for accelerated settlement upon completion of 3 years` time, provided they fulfil one of the following requirements:

  • Creation of 10 full time positions for resident workers for at least 12 months; or
  • Generation of a turnover of at least £5 million over a 3 years period

The requirements relating to naturalization applications have not been affected and even if they obtain ILR on 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 apply for naturalization.

Extension Application

If a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant is not eligible for accelerated settlement upon completion of 3 years’ residence he will need to obtain an extension for 2 years to enable him  complete five years’ residence in the UK and thus apply for ILR.

The applicant has to score 75 points in the following manner:

  • By providing evidence that the applicant has invested, or had invested on his behalf, not less than £200,000 (or £50,000 if the initial application was made on this basis) directly into one or more businesses in the UK. (max. 20 points).
  • By providing evidence that the applicant has registered with HM Revenue & Customs as a self-employed person or registered a new business in which he is a director or registered as a director of an existing business. (Max. 20 Points). This requirement must be met within six months of the grant of the initial visa if the applicant was granted his last leave to remain/entry clearance under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and wishes to seek an extension of stay.
  • By providing evidence that the applicant is engaged in business activity at the time of this application for leave to remain (max. 15 points).
  • By providing evidence that his business has created two full-time positions for persons settled in the UK (max. 20 points). If the applicant`s last grant of leave is as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) then these two jobs must have existed for at least 12 months.

The applicant can only claim 75 points if he can provide the relevant documentary evidence and claim points under all of the sub-sections mentioned above.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneurs) is not required to provide evidences of English language to obtain extensions of visas.

Main applicant  seeking further leave to remain must have at least £945 of personal savings which must have held for a consecutive 90 day period prior to the date of application. If the Tier 1 Migrant has been in the United Kingdom for 12 months or more, the dependant must have £630 to support yourself.

Allowable absences

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants will be allowed to remain outside the UK for maximum 180 days in any calendar year without losing their right to apply for permanent settlement after 3 (if they create 10 full time jobs for 1 year or generate a turnover of £5 million) or 5 years.

Work Allowed

Applicants having 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. They will not be allowed to take supplementary employment. However their dependants will be allowed to seek work or engage in self-employment activities for the duration of their visas. The only restriction for them is that they cannot work as trainee doctors or dentists or professional sportspersons or sports coaches in the UK.

Entrepreneurial teams

Applicants can also apply in an entrepreneurial team of two people but each must have equal access to the investment funds.  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. Each one of them will still need to pass the language and maintenance requirements.

Switching Rules

Into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur):

The following persons will be able to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category:

  • A highly skilled migrant
  • A Tier 1 (General) migrant
  • A Tier 1 (Investor) migrant
  • A Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) migrant
  • A Tier 2 migrant
  • A prospective entrepreneur
  • A business person
  • An innovator
  • A work permit holder
  • A postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • A self employed Lawyer
  • A writer, composer or artist
  • An Investor

The rules of switching are very strict and no one else is allowed to switch to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) while remaining in the UK, unless there are exceptionally compassionate circumstances.

Settlement Prospects

Although applicants on the above-mentioned visas are allowed to switch into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, only the following will be able to use time spent on their visas towards the 5 years’ residence criteria for ILR.

  • Person having previously stayed as a Business Person
  • Persons having previously stayed as an Innovator

It means that if a work permit holder having already spent 3 years on a work permit switches into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, he/she will lose that 3 years for settlement purposes and have to complete 5 years on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa in order to become eligible for settlement.

Those who have completed a total of five years in a combination of a Business Person visa or an Innovator visa or a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain one month before completing their five years.

Applicants for ILR under the accelerated route must also that they have invested the funds.

Administrative Review (Entry clearance applications only)

If the entry clearance application 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 of 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 with the Review request. It is therefore strongly advised to seek professional help when making a Review request.

Appeals (In country Applications only)

Applicants whose applications for leave to remain are refused will be given full rights of appeal, provided they are not left with any leave to remain in the UK at the time of the decision. In these appeals, the applicants are no longer allowed to make use of fresh documentary evidence and information in support of the appeal against the refusal and can only rely on the evidence submitted with the application (unless to show an alleged false document is genuine or appealing on human rights, asylum or race discrimination grounds). The applicant will have 10 working days from the date of service of the decision to lodge an appeal against that decision.

It is strongly advised to seek independent professional assistance to lodge an appeal against a decision of the Home Office.

What services can we offer?

  • We can advise on the procedure, legal and evidential requirements and merits of making an application to the Home Office or entry clearance post.
  • We can advise and represent our clients in making representations in support of their immigration matters.
  • We can advise and represent our clients’ dependants in order to seek dependant visas in line with the visa of the main applicant.
  • We can lodge an appeal (in-country only) or make a request for an administrative review if the applicant`s entry clearance application is refused.
  • We can advise in making applications for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) for those who have already completed their relevant residence period in the UK.
  • We can assist in searching and purchasing an existing business, advise on franchise opportunities.
  • We can provide an incorporation of a UK company and annual support service, assistance with company assets management by means of registration of trusts and offshore companies, accounting and legal services for UK companies.
  • We can assist in opening a bank account.
  • We can advise on current tax legislation, prepare and submit annual tax returns.
  • We can offer a personal and business insurance.
  • We can offer a concierge service for your move to the UK.
  • We can provide you with a property search and school enrolment for your children in the UK.

Whatever the case, we are here to help, assist, advise and represent our clients in relation to any aspect of their immigration matters. 

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