The Points Based System contained within the UK Immigration Rules has made specific provisions for those seeking residency in the UK by way of a business investment.
The investment route is covered by the Tier 1 visa category of the Points Based System. The two most common are the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and the Tier 1 (Investor) visa; these categories enable a non-EEA national to either invest a specific sum of funds in an established business or set up a new business in the UK. Both aforementioned visas have a prescriptive set of requirements which must be met in order to successfully obtain leave in the UK. Nonetheless, there are also certain aspects of the requirements which will require a subjective approach, relying heavily on the supporting documents provided with an application.
What are the requirements of a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa?
As with all visa categories under the Points Based System, there are certain points that an applicant must score in order to make a successful application. Applicants applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa must score 95 points by meeting the specified requirements.
It should be noted that the applicant must be at least 16 years of age or older. In circumstances where the applicant is 18 years of age or older, which is in most cases, the applicant must provide a criminal record certificate for any country resided at for 12 months or more.
The main requirement of a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is the funds available for investment. The first category stipulates that the applicant is required to hold a minimum of £200,000 of either their own funds or funds provided by a third party; this can also include funds already invested into a business.
Alternatively, the second category allows an applicant to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if they hold £50,000. This category can only be relied upon if the £50,000 investment funds are from an FCA registered UK venture capital firm, a UK seed funding competition, or from 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.
The supporting documents that must be provided to the Home Office will vary depending on whether the applicant has access to £200,000 or £50,000. Each category of funds will require a different array of supporting documents to demonstrate that the applicant has met the funding requirement. The format of the documents and type of documents to be submitted are specified by the Home Office policy guidance; an application will be refused or rendered as invalid if the applicant has not complied with the policy guidance.
Contact us if you are contemplating making an application for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and our team of Business Immigration experts will be able to fully assess your circumstances to determine your eligibility for the visa.
Additionally, applicants must also meet the maintenance requirement, the purpose of which is to demonstrate to the Home Office that applicants are able to accommodate and maintain themselves without any recourse to public funds.
The maintenance funds required depends on whether there are any dependants as each dependant increases the maintenance funds required. In circumstances where there is only one main applicant, the maintenance fund 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. It is extremely vital that the applicant has held the maintenance funds from personal savings for a period of 90 consecutive days prior to the date of submitting the application. It is equally as important to note that the maintenance funds cannot be met by utilising the funds required for the investment funds. In other words, the applicant cannot rely on the £200,000 or £50,000 investment funds to meet the maintenance funds, the maintenance funds must be from personal savings only.
Further to the above, the applicant must also meet the English language requirement. The Home Office policy guidance states that there are three ways in which an applicant can meet the English language requirement:
- 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
The requirements discussed above are strict and can only be interpreted in the way intended by the Home Office. A further requirement is that the applicant must pass the ‘Genuine Entrepreneur Test’ 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.
As result of the above test, the Home Office may also wish to interview the applicant and ask a set of questions relating to the applicant’s background and expertise. The Home Office can also request further documents which the applicant must provide within 28 days.
A business plan is also required which will simultaneously assist with passing the Genuine Entrepreneur Test. The business plan should provide an overview of the business and the services to be provided but also how the applicant intends to make the business succeed. The business plan will also need to incorporate market research analysis to demonstrate the target market as well as the projected turnover of the business within a specific period.
Contact us if you concerned about meeting the above requirements or whether you have an interview scheduled with the Home Office 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.
When will I be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route?
The initial grant of leave will be for a period of three years and four months following which the applicant must make an application for an extension of leave; the extension will provide the applicant with a further two years of leave.
To be eligible for an extension of a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, the applicant must meet a further set of requirements including demonstrating that the applicant invested the specified funds and created a minimum of two full time jobs for a duration of at least 12 months.
Once a non-EEA migrant has successfully held a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa continuously for five years, the migrant may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if there has not been an absence of more than 180 days from the UK in any given 12 month period.
There is also an accelerated route to settlement which allows a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holder to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years of residence in the UK. To be eligible for the accelerated route, the applicant must demonstrate that their business created a minimum of 10 new jobs or alternatively, that the business accrued an income of £5 million within three years.
What are the requirements of a Tier 1 (Investor) visa?
In order to successfully obtain a grant of leave under this Points Based category, an applicant must score a minimum of 75 points by meeting the specified requirements.
This route is only available to those who are 18 years of age or above; a criminal record certificate must also be provided for this visa application.
The main requirement of a Tier 1 (Investor) visa is that the applicant must have funds available to the sum of £2 million and that the funds are:
- under the control of the applicant;
- held in a regulated financial institution; and
- disposable in the UK
Although the funds must be controlled by the applicant, the funds can be owned jointly or solely by the applicant’s partner however, the applicant must evidence that he/she has an unlimited right to transfer and dispose of the funds.
The applicant is also required to have opened a bank account with an institution regulated in the UK. The funds must have been held in the account for 90 consecutive days prior to the date of submitting the application. The applicant is also required to provide evidence of where the funds originated from; there is a list of accepted sources of funds which are outlined in the Home Office policy guidance.
When will I be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Tier 1 (Investor) route?
The initial grant of leave is for a period of three years and four months following which an extension of leave for a further period of two years must be requested.
There are specific requirements that must be met by an applicant which differ depending on when the initial grant of leave was obtained. In circumstances where the initial grant of leave was obtained on or after 6 November 2014, the applicant must demonstrate that £2 million was invested in the UK by way of UK Government bonds, loan capital or share capital which must have been made within three months from the date of entry into the UK.
Contact us if your initial grant of leave was before 6 November 2014 as the requirements for an extension under this route differ to the extension requirements outlined above. 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.
Following five years of continuous residence in the UK as a Tier 1 (Investor), the migrant may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain; the migrant must not have had absences from the UK of more than 180 days annually and he/she must have fully invested the £2 million.
There is also an accelerated route to settlement available which depends on the amount invested. An applicant can be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years, if it can be demonstrated that he/she invested £5 million in the UK. Alternatively, the applicant can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after only years if an investment to the sum of £10 million was made within this period.
It is clear that an application for both a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and Tier 1 (Investor) visa can be complex and lengthy due to the requirements and the Home Office policy guidance published for each visa category. It is crucial that legal advice and guidance is sought as even the slightest error or oversight, in terms of the information and documents provided, will result in a refusal.
It is also evident than an application for settlement carries added risk as the requirements are even more intricate and detailed; a refusal will not only be detrimental to the applicant but also to their business. Our immigration team undertakes complex applications under the Points Based System daily and have therefore acquired extensive experience in making successful applications for leave and settlement. Contact us for a thorough and detailed assessment of your current eligibility for leave or settlement in the UK.
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