Visa Information, Visa Requirements, Visa Application Guidelines, Immigration Rules and Inquiry

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Working in UK - Entrepreneur Visa (Tier 1)

UK Entrepreneur Visa
You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if:
  • you want to set up or run a business in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the eligibility requirements
NOTE: You must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply.

 Fees
How much you pay for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa depends on your situation, where you are and how you apply.
Who you’re applying for Apply online or by post Apply in person outside the UK
You £1,180 £944
You (if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia) £1,125 £889
All dependants £1,180 each person £944 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

How long you can stay in UK
You can travel to the UK with a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months.

You can apply to extend this visa for another 2 years if you’re already in this category and 3 years if you’re switching to it from another category.

You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you’ve been in the UK for 5 years.

What you can and cannot do
You can:
  • set up or take over the running of one business or more
  • work for your business, including being self-employed, but you should check your work meets the conditions of being self-employed
  • bring family members with you
You cannot:
  • do any work outside your business, eg work where you’re employed by another business
  • get public funds


Eligibility

You must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Your funds must be:
  • held in one or more regulated financial institutions
  • free to spend (‘disposable’) on business in the UK

NOTE: There are different eligibility requirements depending on whether you have access to £50,000 or to £200,000.

You must also:
  • meet the English language requirement
  • be able to support yourself during your stay
  • score 95 points
  • be at least 16 years old

Sharing investment funds
You can form an ‘entrepreneurial team’ with one other Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicant and share the same investment funds.

You and your team member must meet all the application requirements and:
  • not use the same funds on another application with a different entrepreneurial team
  • provide all the documents needed for evidence of the funds with your own applications


Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD

Exceptions
You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
Antigua and Barbuda
Australia
the Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Canada
Dominica
Grenada
Guyana
Jamaica
New Zealand
St Kitts and Nevis
St Lucia
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
USA


Access to £50,000 investment funds

You can apply if you:
  • have access to £50,000 in investment funds
  • are in one of the visa categories listed below
You can also apply if you’ve already invested £50,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.

NOTE: The funding sources you’re eligible to apply with depend on the visa you have.

As a former Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) you can rely on investments from up to 24 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

For any other listed categories, you can rely on investments from up to 12 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

Apply with an approved funding source
You may not be able to apply by this route if you’re a former Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), former post-study worker or student.


You can apply if your investment funds come from one or more of the following:
  • a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UKTI
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
Your investment funds cannot include:
  • your own money 

  • money from any other third parties

Apply as a former Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • You can apply if you meet the following requirements:
  • you’re applying to change (switch) your visa (‘leave to remain’)
  • you have or were last granted a visa or leave to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • you have funding from any source

Apply as a former Tier 1 (Post-study worker)
You can apply if you:
  • are applying to change (switch) your visa (‘leave to remain’)
  • have or were last granted a visa or leave to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (Post-study worker)
  • have registered as a director of a business or as self-employed in the 3 months before you apply
  • are working in a job on the list of occupations at the National Qualifications Framework level 4 and above
You must also been involved in running one or more UK businesses (eg you’re listed as a company director) since before 11 July 2014 if you want to apply:
  • using your own funds
  • using funds from a venture capital firm regulated by the FCA
Otherwise, you can only apply with funding from:
  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment
  • a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business

Apply as a former Tier 1 (General)
You can apply if you:
  • are applying to change (switch) your visa (‘leave to remain’)
  • have or were last granted a visa or leave to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (General) worker
You can apply with funding from:
  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment
  • a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business
You can apply using investment funds from a venture capital firm registered with the FCA if you:
  • have been involved in running one or more UK businesses (eg you’re listed as a company director) since before 6 April 2015
  • have been working in a job on the list of occupations at the National Qualifications Framework level 4 and above since before 6 April 2015

Apply as a former student
You may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you’re already in the UK and you’re:
  • a Tier 4 visa holder
  • a student nurse
  • studying, writing up a thesis or re-sitting an exam
  • a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
  • a student sabbatical officer
You must have access to £50,000 investment funds from one or more of the following:
  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UKTI
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
Your investment funds cannot include:
  • your own money 

  • money from any other third parties
  • money from a UK venture capital firm
The funds must be held in the UK if you’re applying for leave to remain.

Students with financial sponsorship
If your course fees and living costs have been paid for by a government or international scholarship agency, you must get written consent from them to re-enter or remain in the UK without any conditions.


Access to £200,000 investment funds

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) if you have access to £200,000 in investment funds and you can prove that the money is either:
  • your own
  • made available to you by other people (‘third parties’), eg a husband, wife, partner or investor
  • in a joint account with your spouse or partner but only if they aren’t applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa
The funds must be held in the UK if you’re applying for leave to remain.

Previous investment
You can also apply if you’ve invested £200,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.

Apply as a former Tier (Post-study) worker
If you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (Post-study worker) visa or as a student, you must follow the rules for applying with £50,000 funding.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (General) worker
You can only apply with £200,000 of your own funds if you:
  • have or were last granted a visa or leave to enter the UK as a Tier 1 (General) worker
  • have been involved in running one or more UK businesses (eg you’re listed as a company director) since before 6 April 2015
  • have been working in a job on the list of occupations at the National Qualifications Framework level 4 and above since before 6 April 2015


Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:
  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a passport size colour photograph
  • evidence of the investment funds available to you
  • a business plan
  • evidence that you can support yourself during your stay
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

NOTE: you must provide a criminal record certificate from any country you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.

You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.

NOTE: You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Evidence of investment funds
You must provide the following evidence to show you have access to the appropriate investment funds: 

  • an official letter from each financial institution 
holding the funds
  • for money held in the UK only, a recent personal bank or building society statement from the UK financial institution holding the funds, which confirms the amount of money available to you or your entrepreneurial team
  • for money provided by a venture capital firm or seed funding competition, a recent letter from an accountant confirming the amount of money made available to you or your business
  • for money provided by a UK government department, a recent letter from an accountant or authorised official confirming the amount of money made available to you or your business

Funding from a third party
You must also provide the following evidence if any third parties have contributed funds toward your application or if you’ve held the money for less than 90 days:
  • confirmation they’ve made the money available for you to invest in a UK business
  • a letter from a legal representative (independent from those providing funds) confirming the signatures on the declaration are valid

Evidence that you can support yourself
You must prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK.

How you prove this depends on where you’re making your application from:
  • outside the UK - you’ll need £3,310
  • in the UK - you’ll need £945
Your personal savings must have been in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

You can’t use either of the following to support yourself:
  • money from your investment funds
  • money earned while working in the UK illegally


How to switch to this visa

You may be able to switch to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

NOTE: You should apply before your current visa expires.

You can apply to switch to this visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK under one of the following categories:
  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 1 (Investor) 

  • Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) 

  • business person 

  • innovator 

  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme 

  • work permit holder 

  • self-employed lawyer 

  • writer, composer or artist 

  • investor 

  • International Graduate Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme) 

  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme 

  • Tier 2 

  • prospective entrepreneur 

  • a visitor who has been carrying out permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur

You can also switch from one of the following categories if you have specific types of funding: 

  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 1 (Post-study work) 

  • Tier 4 

  • student 

  • student re-sitting an examination 

  • student nurse 

  • student writing up a thesis 

  • postgraduate doctor or dentist

NOTE: You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you’re in another category.

You must meet the extension criteria, not the switching criteria, if you have had leave in this category in the 12 months before you apply.

How long you can stay
You can stay a maximum of 3 years after switching to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

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