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Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

The Tier, 1 Entrepreneur immigration route, is for entrepreneurs rather than employees. It is designed for those who would like to set up a business in the UK and run it, or buy or join an existing business in the UK and run it.

Migrants may be able to apply from outside the UK or, in some cases, from in the UK if they hold immigration leave in another category.

The applicant must show that they have a good and credible business idea and business plan and also that they have a required minimum level of funds to invest in the business. The required amount varies, depending on the circumstances. It can be as much as £200,000, but it can be less in certain circumstances, for example where a “team” of two entrepreneurs has combined and provided the funds jointly.

A Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is issued for three years. The applicant may wish to apply to extend their visa after that initial period, depending on the circumstances. If their business does exceptionally well regarding financial income or job creation (i.e., an income of at least £5m or at least ten full-time jobs created), the applicant may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after the three-year period. Otherwise, they may wish to extend their visa for a further two years, and to do this; they must show that they have created at least two full-time jobs or equivalent in the business and that they have invested all the investment funds into the business. They may then eventually be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years in total.

Exactly how much would I have to have available to invest in the business?

It depends. There are some routes which only require £50,000 for investment, but most typically an investment of £200,000 will be required. However, a team of two entrepreneurs can pool their financial resources together. In this situation, they would have to provide £200,000 between them, in any proportion.

Does my business have to be financially successful?

Not particularly, unless you intend to apply for indefinite leave to remain under the three-year route. If you are not, then the relevant requirements are that you create at least two full-time jobs or equivalent and that you invest all the investment funds into the business, and there is no specific requirement for the company to be profitable or successful.

Is there an English language requirement?

Yes, Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applicants must satisfy an English language requirement, for example by having passed an English language test to B1 level. And if the migrant applies for Indefinite Leave to Remain they must also pass the Life in the UK test.

Is a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa application easy?

No, it isn’t. The requirements have become more and more exacting over the last few years, particularly about the requirement for credibility and a realistic and well-researched business plan. The failure rate for Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa applications is high.

What are the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur?

The applicant must show that they are registered either as self-employed or as the director of a business. They must show that they are genuinely operating a business, that they have duly invested the required amount of investment funds into it and that they have created the required number of jobs in the business. They must also show that they have not been outside the UK for more than 180 days per year during the relevant period, either five years or three years. The applicant must also pass the Life in the UK test.

Can a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa lead to British citizenship?

Yes, it can potentially, but first of all the applicant must have lived lawfully in the UK for at least five years and they must have acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain, which they must have held for at least one year. So an applicant who has acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain after just three years might – depending on their circumstances – have to wait for another two years before they are eligible to apply for British citizenship.

And also the applicant must not have spent too much time outside the UK during the five-year period. It is important to understand that the requirement about time spent outside the UK for a British citizenship application is stricter than it is for an Indefinite Leave to Remain application, so it could happen that an applicant who had successfully acquired Indefinite Leave to Remain would nevertheless have spent too much time outside the UK to qualify for British citizenship.

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