Monthly Archives: April 2016

UK Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa – The Essentials

As mentioned in my previous article, the UK (Investor) Visa is going the way of the Dodo – due to become extinct in December 2017. For people who have money to invest and a viable business plan, the Tier One (Entrepreneur) Visa provides an alternative way to successfully enter the UK market.

Migrant entrepreneurs make an overwhelming contribution to the UK economy. As of March 2014 there were nearly 3.2 million companies active in Britain, with migrants as founders or co-founders of 464,527, equivalent to 14.5 percent of the total. Furthermore, migrant entrepreneurs are responsible for creating over 1.1 million jobs in Britain.

The UK has one of the strongest economies in the world. This, along with a thriving tech sector attracts hundreds of dynamic entrepreneurs to the country every year.

However, statistics show that the refusal rate for the entrepreneur route is high. This can be partly explained by the toughening up on requirements and the introduction of the “genuine entrepreneur test”, which is the UK Government’s response to counter abuse under this immigration category.

Eligibility Requirements

Unlike the UK Investor Visa, where the only substantial requirements are;

a) have a lot of money (£2 million or more); and
b) make sure the money is clean

the entrepreneur route is more taxing in its requirements.

To qualify an applicant must show:

  • access to either £50,000 or £200,000 in investment funds held in a regulated financial institution
  • they speak English
  • they are able to support themselves
  • they score at least 95 points on the Points Based System (PBS)
  • they are 16 years or older
Access to £50,000

To apply, the £50,000 must come from one of the following sources:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI)
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
  • a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
Access to £200,000

Having £200,000 provides more flexibility as to the source of the funds. To apply the money must be either:

  • the applicants own funds
  • made available to the applicant by other people (‘third parties’), eg a husband, wife, partner or investor
  • in a joint account with a spouse or partner but only if they aren’t applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

Applicants must also provide evidence of a clear, comprehensive business plan.

Dependent family members (a spouse and children under 18 years) are entitled to accompany an entrepreneur but they must acquire their own visa if they are from outside the EEA.

The ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test

Introduced in January 2013, the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test is both subjective and strict, making it a challenge to pass. Applicants must prove they can start a sustainable business in the UK by providing a detailed business plan and attending interviews with Home Office staff.

Whilst not quite on par with facing Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, applicants face a challenge in that the interviewing panel are unlikely to know anything about the applicant’s business. Therefore, candidates applying for an Entrepreneur Visa need to:

a) provide clear evidence that they have the knowledge and experience required to run a business in their chosen industry;
b) have a comprehensive business plan, showing that the necessary market research has been done and financial numbers crunched, proving it is a viable venture;
c) explain clearly via the business plan or at an interview that they understand the business, their place within it, the market and how to manage finances;

if you desire any chance of succeeding with your application.

And the application procedure is set to become even tougher. In March 2015, the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (the MAC) to review the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa category.  The MAC made a number of recommendations aimed at making the process for gaining the visa even more stringent.

The recommendations include:

  • allowing third-party endorsements of the applicant and business plan from the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)-approved accelerators to endorse individual applicants
  • the ‘genuine entrepreneur’ test should be conducted by industry experts rather than civil servants
  • the £200,000 threshold should continue to apply to deter low-quality applications
  • the £50,000 could be lowered as some start-ups require low capital investment initially
  • the Government could work with UKTI and the UK Business Angels Association to explore the feasibility of approving selected angel investor networks or syndicates to provide third party endorsement
  • a greater emphasis should be placed on the applicant’s track record in business as opposed to the feasibility of the business plan
  • successful applicants should be required to report on the success of their business to the Home Office to show they are actively growing their venture

The Government is currently reviewing these recommendations.

Getting to ‘Go’

People with the tenacity and drive to launch a new venture in a foreign country do not want their plans delayed by Government red tape. Those applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa should seek expert legal advice on the process. Obtaining legal guidance on how to assemble a business plan that will satisfy Home Office staff and getting advice on preparing for interviews help applicants achieve thier commercial goals swiftly.

At UK Migration Lawyers, we have years of experience guiding high-net-worth individuals and entrepreneurs in successfully applying for a UK Entrepreneur Visa.

To make an appointment or enquire further phone our office on 0121 777 7715.

UK Migration Lawyers is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 497640). Accredited immigration Law Solicitors. UK Migration Lawyers Ltd. / All rights reserved. Company Registration No 06702262 / Registered in England and Wales.