This guide details how to transition from a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) under rules post-March 29, 2019. It covers topics like maintenance funds, English proficiency, Genuine Entrepreneur Test, job creation, and other criteria. Note: The UK Innovator Visa replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa on March 29, 2019. Still, applications for transition to ILR from Tier 1 will be accepted till April 5, 2025, and for visa switches till July 5, 2027. Post these dates, the Home Office won’t entertain ILR applications from Tier 1 holders.
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The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa has been a popular route for ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs who want to establish or take over a business in the UK. As a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder, it’s crucial to understand the process of transitioning to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status. ILR allows you to live, work, and settle permanently in the UK, and offers the opportunity to apply for British citizenship later.
In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with a clear understanding of the requirements, processes, and tips for successfully obtaining ILR as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder. This guide aims to help you navigate the complexities of the ILR process and avoid common pitfalls, ensuring a smooth transition from your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR status.
While we have previously covered various aspects of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in other blog posts, this post will focus specifically on the ILR process, presenting unique content tailored to address the needs and concerns of Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders seeking ILR.
Stay with us as we explore the essential aspects of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR journey, and empower you with the knowledge to successfully achieve permanent residency in the UK.
2. Eligibility Criteria for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa ILR
To successfully apply for ILR as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder, you need to meet specific eligibility criteria. Below, we outline the key requirements you must satisfy to secure ILR status:
a. Job Creation
One of the primary conditions for ILR eligibility is demonstrating job creation within your business. You must have created at least two full-time jobs (lasting for at least 12 consecutive months each) for settled workers in the UK during your stay as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur. These jobs must have existed for at least two years before your ILR application.
b. Financial Investment
As a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder, you must show that you have invested the required amount into your UK business. You need to have invested a minimum of £200,000 (or £50,000 if you were granted the visa under the lower investment funds requirement) in the form of cash directly into one or more UK businesses.
c. Genuine Entrepreneur Test
The Genuine Entrepreneur Test assesses your intentions and ability to establish, take over, or become a director of a business in the UK. To satisfy this requirement, you must prove that you have genuinely operated your business while on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. This involves providing evidence of your day-to-day involvement in the business, such as contracts, invoices, and management decisions.
d. English Language Requirement
To be eligible for ILR, you must meet the English language requirement. You can demonstrate your English language proficiency by having a degree taught in English, passing an approved English language test at the required level, or being a national of a majority English-speaking country.
e. Life in the UK Test
All ILR applicants must pass the Life in the UK test, which assesses your knowledge of British history, culture, and traditions. The test consists of 24 multiple-choice questions, and you must score at least 75% to pass. You can prepare for the test by studying the official handbook for the Life in the UK test. By meeting these eligibility criteria, you can increase your chances of successfully transitioning from a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR status and enjoying the benefits of permanent residency in the UK.
3. Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR Document Checklist
When applying for ILR as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder, it’s crucial to provide all the required documents to support your application. The following is a comprehensive list of documents you need to submit:
a. Personal Documents
- Current passport and any previous passports held during your stay in the UK
- Two recent passport-sized photographs
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
- Police registration certificate (if applicable)
- Proof of English language proficiency
- Life in the UK test pass certificate
b. Business Documents
- Business registration documents (e.g., Companies House registration, partnership agreements)
- Financial investment evidence, such as bank statements or share certificates
- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) documents, including VAT registration, Corporation Tax, and National Insurance contributions
- Company accounts and financial statements, including profit and loss statements and balance sheets
- Contracts, invoices, and other evidence of your day-to-day involvement in the business
c. Job Creation Documents
- Employment contracts for each job created
- Payslips and payment records for the employees
- HMRC documents related to employee tax and National Insurance contributions
Tips on Organizing and Preparing the Documents:
- Begin gathering your documents early, as some may take time to obtain.
- Ensure all documents are original or certified copies. Photocopies may not be accepted.
- Organize your documents in a clear and logical order, using dividers or tabs for easy navigation.
- If any documents are not in English or Welsh, provide a certified translation along with the original document.
- Double-check your document checklist before submitting your application to ensure you’ve included all necessary paperwork.
By thoroughly preparing and organizing your documents, you can increase the likelihood of a successful ILR application and avoid unnecessary delays or complications in the process.
4. Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR Application Process
Applying for ILR as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder requires a thorough understanding of the process to ensure a successful application. The following step-by-step guide will help you navigate the ILR application process:
a. Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for ILR
- Ensure you meet all eligibility criteria, including job creation, financial investment, and the Genuine Entrepreneur Test.
- Prepare for and pass the English language requirement and Life in the UK test.
- Gather all required documents and ensure they are original or certified copies, with translations if necessary.
- Complete the SET(O) application form, which can be found on the UK government’s website.
- Submit the application form, supporting documents, and pay the application fee online.
- Attend a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) appointment to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph).
- Wait for the UK Home Office’s decision on your ILR application. This may take several months, so be prepared for a waiting period.
b. Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR: Fees and Processing Time
The ILR application fee for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders is £2,389. Please note that fees are subject to change, so always check the UK government’s website for the most up-to-date information. The processing time for ILR applications can vary, but it generally takes around 6 months. However, the processing time may be longer if the Home Office requires additional information or if there are complications with your application.
c. Tips to Ensure a Smooth Application Process
- Start preparing early to ensure you meet all eligibility criteria and have time to gather necessary documents.
- Double-check your application form and supporting documents to avoid any errors or omissions that could cause delays.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest ILR requirements and fees by regularly checking the UK government’s website.
- Be patient and prepared for a potentially lengthy waiting period for your ILR decision.
- Consider seeking professional advice from an immigration lawyer or consultant to ensure your application is completed accurately and efficiently.
By following these steps and tips, you can increase your chances of a successful ILR application, allowing you to secure your future in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder.
5. Common Reasons for ILR Refusal and How to Avoid Them
Understanding the common reasons for ILR refusal can help you avoid making similar mistakes and increase your chances of a successful application. Here are some common reasons for ILR refusal and strategies to address potential issues before submitting your application:
a. Insufficient Evidence of Job Creation
One of the key requirements for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa ILR is job creation. If you do not provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you have created the required number of jobs for at least 12 months, your application may be refused.
Strategy: Ensure that you have clear and detailed documentation to show the jobs you have created, including employment contracts, payslips, and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) records.
b. Inadequate Proof of Investment
The Home Office may refuse your ILR application if you fail to provide adequate proof of your investment in a UK business.
Strategy: Prepare and submit clear and organized financial documentation, including bank statements, invoices, and receipts that demonstrate your investment in the business.
c. Failing the Genuine Entrepreneur Test
The Home Office conducts a Genuine Entrepreneur Test to assess the credibility and viability of your business. If they are not satisfied that your business is genuine or that you have genuinely invested in the business, your ILR application may be refused.
Strategy: Provide a strong business plan, financial forecasts, and evidence of market research to support the credibility and viability of your business. Additionally, ensure that you can demonstrate your active involvement in the day-to-day management of the business.
d. Failing the English Language Requirement or Life in the UK Test
If you fail to meet the English language requirement or do not pass the Life in the UK test, your ILR application will be refused.
Strategy: Invest time in preparing for these tests, including taking English language courses if necessary, and studying the materials provided for the Life in the UK test.
e. Incomplete or Inaccurate Application
If your ILR application is incomplete, contains errors, or has missing documents, it may be refused.
Strategy: Carefully review your application and ensure all required documents are included. Double-check all information for accuracy and consider seeking professional assistance to review your application before submission. By being aware of these common refusal reasons and implementing the suggested strategies, you can reduce the likelihood of your ILR application being denied and improve your chances of successfully securing your Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
6. Transitioning from Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to Other Visa Categories
For Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders who are not eligible for ILR or wish to explore alternative immigration routes, there are several other visa categories to consider. This section provides an overview of some suitable visa categories and compares their requirements and benefits.
a. Innovator Visa
The Innovator Visa is designed for experienced entrepreneurs with innovative and scalable business ideas. This visa category replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in 2019.
- Requirements: Endorsement from an approved endorsing body At least £50,000 in investment funds (unless you have already invested a similar amount while on a Start-up Visa or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa)
- Benefits: Permission to stay in the UK for up to 3 years, with the possibility of extension Eligibility for ILR after 3 years, provided you meet specific criteria
b. Start-up Visa
The Start-up Visa is aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs with a high-potential business idea. It offers a more accessible route for those who do not yet meet the requirements for the Innovator Visa.
- Requirements: Endorsement from an approved endorsing body A genuine and credible business plan English language proficiency at level B2
- Benefits: Permission to stay in the UK for up to 2 years, with the possibility of switching to the Innovator Visa afterwards No minimum investment requirement
c. Global Talent Visa
The Global Talent Visa is for individuals who have exceptional talent or promise in specific fields, such as science, engineering, digital technology, or the arts.
- Requirements: Endorsement from a recognized UK body in your field of expertise Evidence of exceptional talent or promise
- Benefits: Permission to stay in the UK for up to 5 years, with the possibility of extension Eligibility for ILR after 3 or 5 years, depending on the criteria met
d. Tier 1 Investor Visa
The Tier 1 Investor Visa is designed for high-net-worth individuals who wish to make a substantial investment in the UK economy.
- Requirements: At least £2 million in investment funds available to invest in the UK Opening a UK bank account
- Benefits: Permission to stay in the UK for up to 3 years and 4 months, with the possibility of extension Eligibility for ILR after 2, 3, or 5 years, depending on the level of investment made
When considering a transition from the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to another visa category, it is essential to carefully evaluate the requirements and benefits of each option to determine the most suitable route for your individual circumstances and future plans in the UK.
7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to ILR: Key Points
This section addresses common questions and concerns related to the ILR application process for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders.
A. Can My Dependents Apply For ILR At The Same Time As Me?
Yes, your dependents (spouse/partner and children under 18) can apply for ILR at the same time as you. They will need to meet specific requirements, including proving their relationship to you and demonstrating their continuous residence in the UK.
How Long Does It Take To Process The ILR Application?
The processing time for ILR applications varies, but most applications are processed within 6 months. To ensure a smoother and quicker process, it is crucial to submit a complete and well-organized application with all the required documentation.
Can I Apply For ILR If I Have Spent Time Outside The UK During My Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa?
Yes, you can still apply for ILR, but you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-month period during your qualifying period of residence. Any absences should be properly documented and explained in your application.
What Happens If My ILR Application Is Refused?
If your ILR application is refused, you will receive a refusal letter detailing the reasons for the decision. You can request an administrative review if you believe there has been a case working error. Alternatively, you may consider reapplying for ILR or exploring other visa categories to continue your stay in the UK.
Can I Continue Working In The UK While My ILR Application Is Pending?
Yes, you can continue working in the UK while your ILR application is being processed, as long as your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa remains valid.
Do I Need To Take The Life In The UK Test And Meet The English Language Requirement If I Already Did So For My Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa?
Yes, you still need to meet the English language requirement and pass the Life in the UK test for your ILR application, even if you have already done so for your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. The ILR requirements are separate from those of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and must be met independently. These FAQs provide a starting point for addressing some of the common questions and concerns related to the ILR application process for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders. For more detailed information and guidance, it is advisable to consult the UK government’s official guidelines or seek advice from a qualified immigration advisor.
What is the success rate for Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders achieving Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?
From 2008-2017, we saw a total of 819 individuals achieve settlement grants through the Tier 1 High-Value Migrant Entrepreneurs and pre-PBS categories. It’s worth noting that achieving settlement under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route typically requires spending a minimum of 3-5 years in the UK. In the early years, only a small number of applicants received settlement grants, but from 2012 onwards, this number steadily rose. In 2017, we saw the highest number with 414 Tier 1 entrepreneur migrants granted settlement. The majority of these ILR grants were made to Pakistani, Chinese, and Indian nationals.
In this blog post, we have provided an in-depth guide to help Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holders understand the ILR application process, its eligibility criteria, required documents, and application steps.
We have also discussed common reasons for ILR refusal and strategies to avoid potential issues, as well as other suitable visa categories for those who may need to transition from the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.
To recap the critical points:
- Ensure you meet all eligibility criteria, including job creation, financial investment, Genuine Entrepreneur Test, English language requirement, and Life in the UK test.
- Prepare a comprehensive list of required documents and organize them carefully to support your application.
- Follow the step-by-step guide to applying for ILR, including paying the fees and submitting your application within the appropriate timeframe.
- Be proactive in addressing potential refusal reasons before submitting your ILR application.
- Understand the options for transitioning from the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to other visa categories, if necessary.
Successfully obtaining ILR as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder is a crucial milestone in your journey as an entrepreneur in the UK. By being diligent and well-prepared, you increase your chances of a successful ILR application, allowing you to continue growing your business and enjoying the benefits of permanent residency in the UK. Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if you have concerns or questions about your specific circumstances. Good luck with your ILR application!