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United Kingdom Entrepreneur Visa – Tier 1

The United Kingdom, made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. It neighbors several countries by sea, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland. The UK today is a diverse patchwork of native and immigrant cultures, possessing a fascinating history and dynamic modern culture, both of which remain hugely influential in the wider world and is an overwhelmingly popular destination for many travelers. London, the capital and largest city of is along with New York, often reckoned to be one of only two cities of truly global importance but many come to see quaint villages and the beautiful and quickly changing countryside.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with the Queen as the nominal head of state. It has a bicameral parliament: The lower house, known as the House of Commons, is elected by the people and is responsible for proposing new laws. The upper house, known as the House of Lords, primarily scrutinizes and amends bills proposed by the lower house.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category is for non-EEA nationals who want to set up or invest in a business in the UK.  You will need to have access to £200,000 (or £50,000) and satisfy the Home Office that you genuinely intend and are able to be actively involved in the running of a viable UK business

This route is suitable if you want to set up a new business or invest in an existing business, in the UK. The application process is straightforward and speedy. The Investor visa is valid for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months, after which time it must be renewed for another 2 years.

Applicants may submit their forms online or by mail up to 3 months before coming to the UK. The processing time is approximately 30 days, depending on the applicant’s present place of domicile. Visas are normally issued 8 weeks after approval, or sooner by paying for the ‘super premium service’. The immigration authority reserves the right to a personal interview, if additional clarification is needed but this is not typical.

The basic requirements for the initial three-year visa are:

  • Having access to £200,000 (or £100,000 if you join with another individual who is also able to invest £100,000) to invest in a business; or
  • £50,000 if it is provided by a registered venture capitalist firm, UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition or UK Government Department or you are currently in the UK as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or as a Tier 1 Post Study Work migrant.
  • The money is held within a regulated financial institution
  • The money is disposable within the United Kingdom, i.e. able to spend it
  • You will need to be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking) and have enough additional money to support yourself without relying on public funds.

In order to obtain a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa you will also need to satisfy the Home Office that you genuinely intend and are able to be actively involved in the running of a UK business and that you have a viable and credible business plan.

If applying from overseas, you and any adult dependents will need to provide an overseas criminal record certificate for any country that you have lived in for at least 12 months in the last 10 years.

To secure the two-year extension visa, you will need evidence to show that:

  1. You were appointed as a Director of a UK company within six months
  2. You have invested £200,000 in UK business(es) via equity or unsecured loan
  3. Your investment has resulted in the creation of the equivalent of two full time jobs for 12 months

Following the five-year period, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You will need to show that:

You met the residency requirement – this means you must have spent at least 185 days per year in the UK.

If you have created 10 jobs or a total turnover of £5m then you can accelerate your route to Indefinite Leave to Remain.

CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS (optional)
If you have lived in the UK for five or more years, you are eligible to apply for UK citizenship as long as you meet the following residency requirements:

  • You have been absent from the country for no more than 90 days (three months) in the 12 months preceding the application. The total number of days spent outside of the UK for the entire five-year qualifying period should not exceed 450 days (i.e. three months of every year, or 75% of your time);
  • You are of good moral character and are not in breach of any immigration laws;
  • You can demonstrate a good knowledge of UK life and culture, and a basic level of English or Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic languages.

Investor Visa
This route is suitable if you want to make a passive investment into the UK. The basic requirement for the initial three-year visa is that you have £2m available to invest in a regulated bank in the UK or overseas, and the money is disposable to invest in the UK.

To secure the two-year extension visa, you will need evidence to show that:

  1. Maintained at least £2m investment in the UK
  2. Invested this sum in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK companies
  3. Invested this sum within 3 months of your ‘investor start date’

Following the five-year period, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. You will need to show that:

You met the residency requirement – this means you must have spent at least 185 days per year in the UK.

If you have invested more than £5 million, you may be eligible for an accelerated route to permanent residency. This could lead to residency status in two years (if you invest £10m) or three years (if you invest £5m).

Documents Require

  1. A current passport or other valid travel identification
  2. A passport size color photograph
  3. Evidence of the investment funds available to you
  4. Evidence that you can support yourself during your stay
  5. Proof that you meet the English language requirement
  6. Your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  7. You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.
  8. (All docs certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh)

Evidence of 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, seed funding competition or UK government department, a recent letter from an accountant confirming the amount of money made available to you or your business

Funding from a third party (if required)

  • 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

NB- Money held overseas in an institution that is not regulated by the FCA/PRA must have confirmation that the money can be transferred into the UK.

Evidence that you can support yourself (and your family)

  • Outside the UK – you’ll need £3,310 of personal savings proof (per person)
  • In the UK – you’ll need £945

Must have been in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

What else do I need to know about the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa?

Your initial Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa will be valid for either 3 years and 4 months (if applying from overseas) or 3 years (if applying from within the UK).

You will need to register as a director of a UK company or as self-employed within 6 months, then invest your £200,000 (or £50,000) and create at least 2 full-time jobs for members of the settled population that last for at least 12 months.

You will be able to extend your stay as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur for a further 2 years, before qualifying for indefinite leave to remain (settlement) after 5 years. There is also an accelerated route to settlement as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur after 3 years if you create at least 10 new full-time jobs or your business has a turnover of at least £5 million.

In order to settle in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, you will need to spend not more than 180 days outside the UK in any rolling 12-month period and, unless aged 65 or over, have sufficient knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.  For settlement applications made from 11 January 2018, the Home Office will consider absences from the UK on a rolling basis, rather than in separate consecutive 12-month periods. If your qualifying period includes time before this date and you believe that this change would cause you exceptionally harsh consequences, you must set out the reasons.

What Are the Advantages of Having a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa?

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders can enjoy the following:

  • permanent residency after five years
  • opportunity to fast-track residency after three years when qualifying milestones are met
  • British Citizenship for you and your dependents after six years and permanent residency
  • any time you spend in the UK under your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa can be combined with time spent under other visas to contribute to the ten-year residency qualification.

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