Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Guidance and Requirements

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Policy Guidance and RequirementsThis relates to Tier 1 entrepreneur visa guidance and requirements 2018 for entry, leave to remain and extension applications. Accordingly, the post explains how an applicant can apply under the HS Tier 1 entrepreneur migrant route and covers the following points:

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Policy Guidance and Requirements under Paragraph 245DB of the Immigration Rules
  • Can I Switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur route from inside the UK?
  • An overview of Tier 1 Entrepreneur Extension Requirements
  • Scoring 95 points for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Extension Application
  • Period and Conditions of Leave to Remain in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur: Changes in Immigration Rules Jan 2018

Please note: effective from March 29, 2019, the Tier 1 entrepreneur route is replaced by the Innovator visa UK under Appendix W of the Immigration Rules for entry clearance applications. However, Tier 1 entrepreneur migrants in the UK can continue to apply for the extension and settlement under the route till 5 April 2023 and 5 April 2025, respectively.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa guidance: an overview of requirements

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is for non-EEA nationals who wish to invest in the UK through setting up or taking over and being actively involved in the running of, one or more businesses in the UK.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur applicant needs to score 95 points

An applicant needs to score 95 Points for an initial application in Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) category i.e.

  • 25 points are available if the applicant has access to funds;
  • 25 points are available if funds are held in one or more regulated financial institutions;
  • 25 points are available if the funds are disposable in the UK. For Migrant applying for leave to remain, the funds are required to be held in the United Kingdom;
  • ten (10) points are for meeting the requirement relating to B-1 Level of English Language;
  • ten (10) points are for maintenance funds to support the applicant and any dependants in the UK.

Scoring 75 points for attributes is quite subjective!

Here it is important to mention that scoring 10 points each for English Language and Maintenance Funds is quite straightforward. However, scoring 75 points for Investment Fund (Attributes) is quite subjective. Accordingly, an applicant needs to satisfy the requirements of subparagraphs 245DB(f) or 245DB(i), a failure to do so will result in not awarding 75 points for attributes despite having the requisite funds in a regulated financial institution.

How much investment funds are required?

Those who apply under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category must demonstrate that they have access to £200,000 which they will invest in one or more businesses in the UK.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur £50,000

Additionally, there is a provision to allow migrants to apply at a lower funding threshold of £50,000, providing the funding comes from either:

  • one or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA); or
  • one or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions (e.g. accelerator programmes) that are listed as endorsed on the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) website; or
  • one or more UK government departments or devolved government departments in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and which is made available for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business.

For how long I need to keep the funds in a bank account?

The funding must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions, must be disposable in the UK, and must have been held by the migrant for at least 90 days unless it is being provided by a third party.

How to score points for English Language and Maintenance?

They are required to satisfy the relevant English language requirements to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) Level B1 and demonstrate that they hold savings of £3,310 (or £945 if applying from within the UK) to satisfy the PBS maintenance requirements. Higher maintenance requirements apply where the migrant is accompanied by dependants. Applicants must have £1,890 for each dependant if applying from outside the UK or if they have been in the UK for less than 12 months. This sum is £630 for applicants who have been in the UK for more than 12 months.

Minimum Age of the Main Applicant

In terms of paragraph 245DB(o) of Immigration Rules, the minimum age of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur (Main Applicant) must be at least 16 years. Moreover, for under the age of 18 main applicants, it is required that their legal guardian/sole parent must undertake the legal responsibility to support their application and to give their consent to the applicant’s travel arrangements/reception and care to the United Kingdom (UK).

Genuine Entrepreneur Test

In terms of paragraph 245DB(f) of Immigration Rules, all Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants making an initial application are also subject to a genuine entrepreneur test and must, therefore, show that:

  • they genuinely intend and are able to establish, take over or become a director of one or more businesses in the UK within the next six months;
  • they genuinely intend to invest the requisite money in the business or businesses referred to;
  • the money is genuinely available to the applicant and will remain available to the applicant until such time as it is spent for the purposes of their business or businesses; and
  • they do not intend to take employment in the UK other than working in their business.

The genuine entrepreneur test can also be applied when applications for leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain are being considered.

Business Plan

In terms of paragraph 245DB(g), all Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrants making an initial application are required to provide a business plan to the Home Office, setting out their proposed business activities in the UK and how they expect to make their business succeed. The viability and credibility of the business plan and market research into the chosen business sector are also taken into account, along with the criteria outlined in paragraph 2.6, as part of the genuine entrepreneur test applied by caseworkers.

Criminal Record Certificate for Tier 1 Entrepreneur

In terms of paragraph 245DB(r) of Immigration Rules, from September 1, 2015, Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) entry clearance main applicants and their adult dependents (above 18 such as a spouse) are required to provide an overseas criminal record certificate for any/all country (countries), where they have resided in continuously for 12 months (or more) during the preceding ten (10) years before the application.

Two applicants can form Tier 1 Entrepreneur Team

A maximum of two Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants can form an entrepreneurial team and claim points for the same investment. The applicants must have equal control over the funds and business or businesses and be named in each.

As explained in Paragraph 52 of Attributes, two (2) applicants can claim points for the same investment and business activity provided that they name each other on their application forms/documents. The money for investment can be shared by a team of up to two (2) entrepreneurs.

Both members of the team can work in the UK as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) utilising the same investment funds. A maximum of two (2) people in an entrepreneurial team are allowed. However, either of the applicants is not authorised to use the same funds with another applicant.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Application Fee

For an application made outside the UK, the Main Applicant and dependants can apply online. As of April 6, 2018, the application fee for the Main Applicant Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) has been revised to £1,021 for the Applications made from outside the UK.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Interview Call

An immigration officer can call the Tier 1 entrepreneur applicant for an interview. Therefore, it is mandatory to attend the interview. However, if an applicant is not able to attend the interview then in terms of paragraph 245DB (n) needs to provide a reasonable explanation.

Can a Tier 1 Entrepreneur applicant refuses on General Grounds?

Yes, in terms with paragraph 245DB(a) of Immigration Rules a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Application must not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal. However, if an application falls for refusal under general grounds then in terms with sub-paragraph 245DB(m) an Entry Clearance Office (ECO) has the discretion not to carry out assessment required in subparagraph 245DB(f) or 245DB(i), and can reserve the right to carry out further assessment subsequently in any reconsideration of the decision.

Visa Endorsement and Additional Information

Entry clearance requirement is mandatory, and biometric information is required for applications made in the UK. The Entry Clearance endorsement (CAT D) is Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, and the Entry clearance condition code is Code 1 (+bus) (+sport). Code of leave to remain granted is Code 4D. Dependants are allowed such as spouse and children under 18 years of age. The time spent in as Tier 1 Entrepreneur Migrant counts towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR). For ILR Applications knowledge of language and life is required. The CID case type is Tier 1 HS Entrepreneur and Paragraphs 245D – 245DF, and appendices A, B and C are the relevant Immigration Rules governing the Tier-1 Entrepreneur Migration to the UK.

Can I Switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur route from inside the UK?

Following categories are allowed for switching:

  • highly skilled migrant;
  • Tier-1 (General) Migrant;
  • Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant;
  • Tier-1 (Investor) Migrant;
  • Tier-1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Migrant;
  • business person;
  • innovator;
  • investor;
  • participant in the fresh talent – working in Scotland scheme;
  • participant in the International Graduate Scheme (or its antecedent, the science and engineering graduates scheme);
  • post-graduate doctor/dentist;
  • self-employed lawyer;
  • work permit holder;
  • writer, composer or an artist;
  • Tier-2 migrant;
  • a visitor, who has been engaging in permitted activities i.e. a prospective entrepreneur;

Switching from Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)

In terms of statements of changes dated Dec 7, 2017, redundant transitional arrangements relating to applicants switching from Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) are being removed. This is because leave as a Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) Migrant was granted for two years and the category was closed on 6 April 2012.

Switching from Tier 2

From April 2015, if a migrant applies to switch from Tier-1 (General), he/she will be awarded NO POINTS under sub-paras (a) or (b)(i) of Table 4, in Appendix A unless he/she can meet the extra conditions in Table 4 (Appendix A).

Switching from Tier 4

Although an applicant can switch from one of the following categories, there are restrictions on how the applicant can score points.

From 11 July 2014, applicants will only be awarded points under the provisions in sub-paras (b)(ii), or (b)(iii) in Table 4 (Appendix A) (£50,000) if the applicant(s) is(are) applying for permission to remain and have – or were last awarded, entry clearance, leave to enter or permission to remain as a Tier-4 (General) student, student, student nurse, student re-sitting an examination, student writing up a thesis and Tier-4 (Child) student.

Unconditional written consent from sponsor

Moreover, they are required to provide UNCONDITIONAL (written consent) of the sponsoring government/agency if the Main Applicants are/were:

  • currently Sponsored by a government/international scholarship agency;
  • sponsored by a government/international scholarship agency and the sponsorship came to an end twelve months ago (or less).

Applicants may only switch from Tier-4 (General) student if they are or were last sponsored by:

  • either a UK recognised body or a body in receipt of public funding as a higher education institution – HEI – from the Department of Employment and Learning Northern Ireland, Higher Education Funding Council England and Scottish Funding Council or Higher Education Funding Council for Wales;
  • an overseas higher education institution – HEI – to undertake a short-term study abroad programme in the UK;
  • an embedded college offering pathway courses;
  • an independent school.

An overview of Tier 1 Entrepreneur Extension Requirements

Applicants under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category are granted an initial period of leave of no more than three years and four months for out-of-country applicants, and three years for in-country applicants. However, at the end of this period of leave, a Tier 1 entrepreneur migrant can get a further two years if the migrant is able to prove that he/she:

  • has invested, or had invested on their behalf, not less than £200,000 (or £50,000 if, in their last grant of leave, they were awarded points for funds of £50,000) in cash directly into one or more businesses in the UK
  • has registered as a director or as self-employed not more than six months after the date they were given permission to stay in the UK under a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa
  • can prove they have been self-employed or working as a director of a business three months before they apply for an extension
  • has created at least two full-time equivalent jobs that have existed for at least 12 months
  • has met the period and conditions of leave to remain in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant

Job Creation

For extensions applications during the initial period of three (3) and four (4) months, a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) migrant needs to create a full-time job (at least 30 hours of work a week) for at least 12 months. Moreover, two or more part-time jobs that add up to 30 hours a week can count as one full-time job.

Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) migrants who invest in the same business and are not part of an entrepreneurial team preferably may not use the same evidence of job creation.

Applicants who have had entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, business person or an innovator, in the preceding twelve months immediately before the application date, must meet the extension criteria and as they cannot utilise the initial criteria for applying.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Extension Form

Postal Address: UK Visas & Immigration. Home Office, Tier 1, PO Box 496, Durham, DH99 1WQ, United Kingdom

Courier Address: UK Visas & Immigration, Home Office, Tier 1, Wearside House, Riverside Place, Freemans Reach, Durham, DH1 1SL

For applications made on this form as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant, there is a fee of £1277 for standard postal applications. A £55 discount of CESC (Council of Europe Social Charter) discount is applicable for the main applicant.

Extension Form – PBS Dependant

Each Dependant is required to pay a £1,277 fee for standard postal.

You can now apply online if you are a dependant partner or child. The online form will ask questions that are relevant to you based on the information you enter. You can edit and download the application before it is submitted.

Scoring 95 points for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Extension Application

For leave to remain as a Tier 1 entrepreneur migrant, an applicant needs to score 75 Points for attributes. And also 10 Points each for English Language and Maintenance Funds.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Extension: 20 Points for Invested Fund

The applicant has invested or had invested not less than £200,000 (or £50,000 if, in his/her last grant of leave, she/he was awarded points for funds of £50,000) in cash directly to either one or more businesses in the United Kingdom.

20 Points for Business Registration

The applicant has registered with:

  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as self-employed; OR
  • Companies House as a director of either a new or an existing business – NO POINTS ARE GRANTED to directors/applicants, who are on the List of Disqualified Directors of Companies House;

If applicant’s last grant of entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain was as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, the applicant is required to meet the above condition within six (6) months of entry to the UK. This should be on the basis that the applicant was granted entry clearance as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant and evidence is available to establish the date of arrival to the United Kingdom or date of the grant of leave to remain.

On a date no earlier than three (3) months before the date of application, the applicant was registered with either:

  • HM’s Revenue & Customs as self-employed; OR
  • Companies House as director of new/existing business – POINTS are NOT GRANTED to applicants for directorship in companies, which are included on the list of disqualified directors of the Companies House;

20 Points for Business Establishment

The applicant has:

  • established new business (es) that has (have) created the equivalent of at least TWO (2) new full-time jobs for workers settled in the United Kingdom (UK);
  • joined or taken over an existing business (es) and his/her services or investment have resulted in the net increase in employment provided by the business (es) for persons settled in the United Kingdom by creating an equivalent of at least TWO (2) fresh full-time employment;

If applicant’s last grant of entry clearance or leave to enter or remain was as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, the jobs must have existed for at least twelve (12) months of the period for which most recent leave was granted.

10 Points for the English Language

The applicant is required to provide evidence to prove their English Language Skills meet the requirements.

10 Points for Maintenance Funds

There are sufficient funds to support the migrant and any dependants in the UK.

Period and Conditions of Leave to Remain in the UK

Paragraph 245DC of the Immigration Rules explains that if the initial application for Tier 1 Entrepreneur is successful then a visa for a duration of three (3) years and four (4) months is issued to the applicant. Here it is important to add that in term with Paragraph 245D an applicant has been granted Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa for establishing, joining or taking over one or more than one business in the UK, therefore, the applicant is not entitled to Public Funds and the employment is limited to own business. Moreover, the applicant is required to register with the police in accordance with Paragraph 326 of the Immigration Rules. A Tier 1 Entrepreneur Migrant can undertake studies in the UK in terms of Part 15 of the Immigration Rules.

Period of Leave To Remain in the UK

Leave is usually given for:

  • three (3) yrs and four (4) months for entry clearance;
  • three (3) yrs for switching {leave to remain where the previous grant of leave was not as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, business person or innovator};
  • two (2) years for extensions {leave to remain where the previous grant of leave was as a Tier-1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, business person or innovator}.

Conditions of Leave to Remain in the UK

Leave to remain under Tier-1 Entrepreneur Migrant route is subject to the following stipulations:

  • No recourse to public funds – Migrants under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category are not permitted to access public funds and they must register as self-employed or as the director of a new or existing business.
  • Registration with the police – subject to the requirement of paragraph 326 of the Immigration Rules.
  • Employment limit to the own business i.e. applicant cannot take any employment other than working for the business (es) he/she has established, taken over or joined. Moreover, working for his/her own business (es) does not include any other work the applicant does pursuant to – in line with – a contract of service/apprenticeship with any other business (whether express or implied, written or oral).
  • Sportsperson: no employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach). This condition applies to applications made after April 6, 2011, but the biometric residence permit (BRP) only contained this condition from December 1, 2012. If the ECO comes across someone without the condition on their BRP, who is working as a sportsperson or coach, the ECO is required to contact the economic migration policy team of the Home Office for advice in the matter.

Are Tier 1 Entrepreneur Migrants Allowed to Study in the UK?

Yes, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants can study in the UK. However, need to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme – ATAS – certificate for the course/research he/she intends to undertake and present it to the respective education institution before he/she starts study if:

  • they are over age 18 (or will be over 18 by the time their leave expires);
  • their course is EITHER a doctorate/master’s degree by research in one of the disciplines enumerated in Paragraph 1 (Appendix 6 of Immigration Rules) OR a taught master’s degree/other post-graduate qualification in one of the disciplines highlighted in Paragraph 2 (Appendix 6) of the Immigration Rules. A period of study/research more than SIX (6) months in one of the disciplines noted in Paragraph(s) 1 OR 2 (Appendix 6) of Immigration Rules at an institute of higher education, where this forms component of overseas post-graduate eligibility.

If their course (or research) completion date is postponed or delayed for more than three (3) months, or there are any alterations to the course contents (or the research proposal), they must apply for a new ATAS certificate within twenty-eight (28) calendar days, and must present a printout of the fresh certificate to their institution promptly.

Are there any Work Restrictions for Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrants?

The Migrant(s) under the Immigration Rules can only work for the business or businesses that he/she has established, taken over or joined. Working for his/her own business (es) does not include any work the migrant does under a contract of service or apprenticeship for any other business (either express or implied, oral or written).

The migrant is required to be:

  • employed as the director of the business the migrant has invested in;
  • working in a genuinely self-employed role for Extension and Indefinite Leave to Remain applications.

When a Tier 1 Entrepreneur migrant is considered to be employed by another business?

Where a migrant enters into arrangements with another business in this capacity, this will usually be regarded as obligations for service.

The migrant may not be considered to be working for his/her own business if the work he/she does is considered to be employment by another business. For instance, where the migrant’s work involves the business, in effect, hiring the migrant for the labour or to fill a position or an opening. This holds where the business hires the individual using a recruitment or employment company.

Contracts entered into by the migrant with any other business in this capacity will usually be regarded as contracts of service.

This is also applicable even if the applicant declares the work is undertaken on a self-employed basis. The evaluating immigration officer is required to consider the factors set out at Employment Status Index when he/she deems necessary that the migrant’s work amounts to:

  • genuine self-employment: the migrant works for the business he/she has established, joined or taken over;
  • employment by any other business.

If the evaluating immigration officer considers an applicant’s work to be employed by another business, he may take into account such to be working in breach of the migrant conditions of stay. Accordingly, this makes migrant liable for curtailment and/or removal order.

Although, Tier-1 Entrepreneur Migrants are allowed to study in the United Kingdom; however, it should not prevent the migrant from meeting the extension criteria.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur: Changes in Immigration Rules Jan 2018

According to the Statement of Changes dated Dec 7, 2017, which will be effective from 11 January 2018. The “Attributes” requirements for this category in Appendix A are being rewritten to make them clearer and easier to follow. There are also consequential minor changes to Part 6A. The requirements themselves are unchanged, other than the following:

Job Creation

The job creation rules currently require jobs to have existed for at least 12 months during the applicant’s most recent period of leave. A change is being made to enable applicants to apply even if their current leave was granted less than 12 months ago; in such cases, the jobs must have existed for at least 12 months before the date of the current application.

A transitional arrangement relating to the job creation requirement for applicants who entered the category before 6 April 2014, currently set out in published guidance, is being incorporated into the Immigration Rules. This transitional arrangement will only apply to extension and settlement applications made before 6 April 2019.

Confirmation of Hourly Wages

Applicants will be asked to confirm the paid hours of the employees in jobs they created as well as the hourly rate, to reduce the possibility of calculation errors.

Real-Time Full Payment Submissions

An amendment is being made to the requirement relating to Real-Time Full Payment Submissions, to reflect the fact that these documents do not state the employment start date.

An amendment is being made to the requirements relating to job creation so that the required evidence relates to the period before the applicant joined the business, rather than the period before jobs were created. This provides a clearer demonstration of the applicant’s impact on the business.

Third Party Funding

Clarifications are being made to make clear that, where funds are currently held by another business, which is not the business the applicant is using to score points, that business is considered to be a third party providing funding.

Venture Capital Funding

Applicants relying on investment from a venture capital firm will now be required to also provide a letter from the firm confirming the date(s) the funds were transferred to the applicant or invested in their business and that the firm was registered with the Financial Conduct Authority at the time. This requirement is added to counter ongoing abuse relating to venture capital funding.

Preventing Recycling of Funds

To prevent recycling of funds between applicants, a change is being made so that applicants cannot rely on funds or investment that have been provided by another Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant, or that migrant’s business or close family member. Who is considered to be a close family member will depend on the facts in an individual application.

Directors’ Loans

On 19 November 2015, Statement of Changes HC 535 introduced a requirement that investments made in the form of directors’ loans must be evidenced through readily identifiable transactions in applicants’ business bank statements. A change is being made so that this requirement only applies to investments made after 19 November 2015.

Registration with Companies House within 8 Months

A provision is being removed because it contradicts the rule requiring applicants to be registered with Companies House within 6 months of the date the applicant entered the category. The removed provision requires that such registration has to be effected within 8 months of the same date.

Switching from Tier 1 (Post-Study Work)

Redundant transitional arrangements relating to applicants switching from Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) are being removed. This is because leave as a Tier 1 (Post-Study Work) Migrant was granted for two years and the category was closed on 6 April 2012.

Qualifying Investment

A clarification is being made to the rule which excludes buying the business from its previous owner from being considered as a qualifying investment, to clarify that this means buying any business from its previous owner.

Format and Contents of Letters used as Evidence

Minor amendments are being made to the requirements concerning format and contents of letters (used as evidence) for consistency.

Switching from Tier 1 (General)

Clarifications are being made to the evidential requirements for Tier 1 (General) migrants switching into the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category to make clear the relevant dates for evidence.

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