The Points-Based System contained within the UK Immigration Rules allows non-EEA nationals to enter the UK for work purposes. A sub-category of the Points-Based System is the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category. As evident from the title of the category, all visa categories that fall within the Points-Based System must score a certain number of points by satisfying specific criteria in order to make a successful application. The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa provides an opportunity for non-EEA nationals intending to invest in a UK business to gain residency.
What are the requirements for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa?
In order to make a successful application, the applicant must score 95 points by evidencing that they have the relevant funds available, meeting the English language and maintenance requirement.
Applicants below 16 years of age cannot apply and as such the applicant must be 16 years of age or above. It is important to note that applicants who are 18 years of age or older must provide the Home Office with a criminal record certificate for any country that the applicant has resided in for 12 months or more. This is a compulsory requirement and as such, the criminal record certificate must be provided as failing to do so will lead to the refusal of the application.
The first main requirement is that the applicant has access to the relevant funds for which there are two routes that an applicant can rely upon in order to meet the funding requirement. In order to qualify for the first option, the applicant must have access to £200,000 of disposable funds. The funds to the sum of £200,000 can be relied upon even if it is available through third party funding and applicants are able to rely on funds already invested.
The second route requires funding to the sum £50,000 where the funding is from:
- an FCA registered UK venture capital firm; or
- a UK seed funding competition; or
- a UK government department
It should be noted that regardless of the amount of investment funds to be relied upon, the funds must be held in a regulated financial institution and be disposable to the applicant.
It is important to ascertain which route above will be relied upon as this will determine the supporting documents that must be submitted to evidence that the funding requirement is met. The UKVI have published in depth and complex policy guidance expressly specifying the documents and the format in which the documents must be. Failing to adhere to the guidance provided will likely lead to a refusal and it is always increasingly difficult to make future successful applications following a refusal.
Contact us if you have previously been refused a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and you are intending on submitting a fresh application. We have specialist immigration solicitors who have been able to successfully obtain Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas for our clients despite previous refusals.
Assuming the applicant is able to evidence that the funding requirement is met, the UKVI will award the applicant with 75 points. The remaining 20 points is derived from meeting the English language and maintenance requirement.
There are three ways in which an applicant can meet the English language requirement, and this can be either:
- by being a national of a majority English speaking country; or
- by passing an English language test equivalent to Level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference; or
- by holding a degree which was taught in English and is also equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree
Successfully demonstrating that the English language is met will award the applicant with a further 10 points. The last remaining 10 points can be obtained by demonstrating that the applicant has sufficient maintenance funds available. This requirement is in place for applicants to evidence that he/she is able to financially maintain themselves and any dependants without recourse to public funds. It is crucial to note that applicants cannot rely upon the investment funds to show that they meet the maintenance funds. The maintenance funds must be separate and cannot form part of the investment funds mentioned above.
The maintenance fund required varies depending on the number of dependants an applicant has. However, for a single applicant with no dependants, the maintenance funds required is to the sum of £3,310 for an entry clearance application. If the applicant is varying their leave, switching from one visa category to another, the maintenance funds required will be to the sum of £945. The applicant must rely on funds from their personal savings for a period of 90 consecutive days prior to the date of submitting the application.
The above requirements are clear albeit it complex and lengthy however, a further requirement is subjective and is referred to as the ‘Genuine Entrepreneur Test’. This test is applied to applicants in order to allow applicants to demonstrate that that he/she is genuinely intending to invest the funds in a business and that there is a genuine intention to establish or takeover a business in the UK within the next six months. Applicant will be required to provide a professional and detailed business plan to assist in demonstrating their genuine intentions to establish a business in the UK and in some circumstances, applicants may be required to attend an interview with UKVI. Further details on how to succeed on this particular aspect can be found here.
Contact us if you concerned about meeting the above requirements or whether you have an interview scheduled with UKVI and feel unprepared. Our team of immigration experts can provide you with detailed advice as to the requirements and fully prepare you for the interview.
If an application is successful, the initial grant of leave under a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is for 3 years and 4 months following which the applicant is able to apply for an extension of leave for a further 2 years. Once an applicant has continuously held a grant of leave by way of a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa for 5 years, the applicant may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa route also provides an accelerated route to settlement which requires the applicant to demonstrate that they have assisted the economy by employing individuals for a specified period or alternatively, by demonstrating that the business accrued an income of £5 million within three years
If you are interested in applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa or you require further information on applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain, contact us today. We can assist you in determining whether you are eligible for an extension and advise you on the supporting documents required to make a successful application.