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Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa were taken out of operation in April of 2019 and were replaced by the Innovator Visa and the Start Up Visa.

Both of these visas are designed for entrepreneurs who wish to start their business in the UK. The requirements for both visas are similar, but there are a few important distinctions.

The Start-up Visa is designed for those with less experience and less money to invest in a business. The Innovator Visa is for those with more business experience, who have at least £50,000 to invest in their business idea.

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Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa UK is used by prospective entrepreneurs to enter the UK and start their business. You can also apply for this visa if you intend to come to the UK to take over a company already trading.

Those seeking to pursue this route must be actively involved in the running of the business (or businesses) in the UK. It offers opportunities for those setting up a business as a sole trader, in a partnership or as a UK-registered company. For your application for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to be successful, you must score a total of 95 points and meet all the other requirements under the Immigration Rules. You can score points by having access to not less than £200,000 (or £50,000 if applying as a graduate entrepreneur).

Please note that as of April 2019, this route will be replaced by the Innovator Visa route. If unsure about how this will affect your application, get in touch with one of our specialists to find out more. 

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Innovator Visa Eligibility

The Innovator Visa is most commonly associated with the old Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.

To be eligible for the Innovator Visa, the applicant needs to meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18-years-old
  • A citizen from outside the EEA/Switzerland
  • Have at least £50,000 to invest in your business idea
  • Have a business idea which has been endorsed by an approved body
  • Hold a certificate of B2 level of English as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (unless exempt)

As well as the fundamental requirements above, Innovator Visa applicants must also have at least £945 in their bank account for 90 consecutive days before they apply for the visa.

Innovator Visa Business Endorsement Requirements

Before an applicant begins the Innovator Visa application, they must have their business idea endorsed by an approved endorsing body.

Endorsing bodies must be able to demonstrate a proven track record of supporting UK entrepreneurs. However, a new organisation which has been set up by another body (with a proven track record) will also be eligible.

Endorsement bodies will determine the validity of a business idea through three measures:

  • The applicant needs to demonstrate that they have a genuine and original business plan which meets a new or existing market need, and that the idea will provide benefit to the British workforce and economy
  • Applicant needs to prove that they have all the necessary knowledge, skills and market awareness to successfully run the business
  • The applicant will also need to show that there is potential for growth and job creation

What are the Required Documents for the Innovator Visa?

The documents which you need to provide will differ depending on the circumstances of the applicant and their application.

The following documents will be required with any Innovator Visa application:

  • Current passport or other valid travel identification
  • B2 English language test pass certificate/evidence (if applicable)
  • Evidence of investment funds
  • Bank statements showing at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
  • Tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where the test must be taken

Innovator Visa Cost

The cost of the Innovator Visa depends on the particular nature of the application.

Who?Standard ApplicationExtend or Switch
You£1,021£1,277
You (from Turkey or Maccedonia)£966£1,222
Dependents£1,021 per person£1,277 per person

Applicants will also need to pay for their healthcare surcharge. In most cases, they will need to pay £19.20 for their biometric information to be taken too.

How Long Does it Take to Process Innovator Visa Application?

If you are applying from outside of the UK, you should receive a decision on your application within three weeks. Applications which are made from within the UK can take up to eight weeks to process.

If immigration officials encounter a problem with your application, it will take longer for it to be processed.

The Immigration Advice Service provide expert assistance with UK visa applications. One of our immigration law specialists can help ensure that your application fulfils all requirements and meets the strict Home Office administrative standards, ensuring you have the greatest possible chance of a successful outcome.

Call us now on 0333 305 3612 for more information.

Can my Family Join Me Under an Innovator Visa?

Certain family members, classed as dependents, will be able to join you in the UK if you receive an Innovator Visa.

The following people will be classed as dependents of the Innovator Visa holder:

  • A partner
  • A child under 18
  • A child over 18, if currently in the UK as a dependent

Applicants will need to prove that they have at least £630 of savings per dependent if they wish to bring them to the UK.

If the dependent is already living in the UK, it is possible for them to switch from the visa they are currently on to become a legal resident as the dependent of the Innovator Visa holder.

For expert guidance on the Tier 1 Innovator Visa, please call us now. Contact Us

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Start-up Visa Eligibility

Applicants for the Start-up Visa do not need a specific amount of funds to invest in their business. This is the biggest difference between the Innovator Visa and the Start-up Visa.

Those who meet the following criteria could be eligible for the Start-up Visa:

  • At least 18-years-old
  • From outside the EEA and Switzerland
  • Must have endorsement for their business idea from an approved body
  • Must have a B2 level of English as set out by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (unless exempt)
  • Has personal savings of at least £945 for 90 consecutive days before they apply

What do I Need to Know About the Start-up Visa Business Proposal Endorsement?

Anyone who wishes to apply for a Start-up Visa must have their business idea endorsed by an authorised body.

The idea must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation which has a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.

In order for the business proposal to be considered, it must meet the following conditions:

  • New idea. Cannot join or invest in a business that is already trading
  • Innovative. Business idea must be original and different from anything else on the market
  • Viable. Potential for growth

Which Documents do I Need to Provide in a Start-up Visa Application?

The main required documents for a Start-up Visa are identical to the Innovator Visa, apart from evidence of the investment funds.

Applicants will need to provide:

  • A current passport or other valid travel identification
  • Bank statements showing that you’ve had at least £945 in savings in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply
  • Proof of B2 level of English (unless exempt)
  • Tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

Any documents which are not in English must be translated by an accredited translator.

Start-up Visa Application Processing Time

In most cases, the Home Office will process Start-up Visa applications within three months. If the application is made from outside the UK, the decision should be reached within three weeks.

Start-up Visa Application Cost

Who?Standard ApplicationExtend or switch
You£363£493
Citizen of Turkey or Macedonia£308£438
Dependents£363 per person£493 per person

As with the Innovator Visa, applicants will also need to pay for the healthcare surcharge and for their biometric information to be taken.

If you need any help with the Start-up Visa, the IAS can help. Contact Us

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Can my Family Join Me Under a Start-up Visa?

If your Start-up Visa application is successful, certain family members can join you in the UK as dependents.

A dependent family member can be:

  • Your husband, wife or partner
  • A child under 18
  • A child over 18 if they’re currently residing in the UK as a dependent

If dependents are joining you in the UK, you must have at least £630 to financially support them in the UK (in addition to the standard £945.

Dependents can apply from either outside the UK or in the UK. Dependents will need to provide fingerprints and a photograph (biometric) information as part of the application.

What is the Investor Visa?

The Investor Visa is a slightly different form of visa designed for those with a significant amount of capital to invest in a business in the UK.

The most fundamental requirement of this exclusive visa is that the applicant must have at least £2,000,000 in investment funds to apply.

The cost of a standard Investor Visa application is £1,623. The Investor Visa lasts for three years and 4 months and can be extended at the end of this period.

The Investor Visa has more favourable conditions than most UK Visas. Under certain circumstances, Investor Visa holders will be eligible for British settled status after just two years of UK residency.

  • Can apply to settle after two years if you invest £10 million
  • Can apply to settle after three years if you invest £5 million
  • Can apply to settle after five years if you invest £2 million

Can I Switch to the Innovator Visa from another UK Visa?

It is possible to switch to the Innovator Visa from the following UK Visas (provided you meet the eligibility criteria for the visa):

  • Start-up visa
  • Tier 2 Visas
  • Visitor Visa (if applicant is in the UK to acquire funding and a supporting letter from an endorsement body)
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa
  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

Bear in mind that you will need to have received an endorsement for your business idea from an approved body in order to be eligible.

An applicant can remain in the UK until a decision has been made on their Innovator Visa application, as long as they applied before the expiration of their current visa.

Can I Switch to the Start-up Visa from another UK Visa?

Yes, it is possible to switch to the Start-up Visa from certain other UK visas.

These are:

  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Any Tier 2 Visa
  • Tier 4 (General) Student Visa
  • Standard Visitor Visa. (Applicants will need to get a supporting letter from an endorsing body to prove they’re looking for funding)

Bear in mind that if you switch from the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa to the Start-up Visa, any time which you have already spent under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa will count as part of the two years of the Start-up Visa.

It will take up to eight weeks for the Home Office to process an application to switch to a Start-up Visa.

How Long Can I Stay in the UK with an Innovator Visa?

You can stay in the UK for up to three years with an Innovator Visa. At the end of the three-year period, you can apply for an Innovator Visa extension, which also lasts for three years.

After five years of lawful residence in the UK under an Innovator Visa, you will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

After one year of living in the under ILR, you will be eligible to apply for British citizenship.

How Long Can I Stay in the UK with a Start-up Visa?

The Start-up Visa enables you to reside in the UK for up to two years. In contrast to the Innovator Visa, you cannot extend the Start-up Visa. If you wish to remain in the UK for longer than two years, you will need to apply for a different visa.

Can I Still Apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa?

You can no longer apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa or the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.

However, it is still possible to switch to a different visa if you are still lawfully living in the UK under a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (which was given before April of 2019).

You can still switch to the Innovator Visa or Start-up Visa from the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, and in certain cases you can still apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extension.

Also, time spent in the UK under a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa or Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa counts towards minimum time residence requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Before you apply as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, you will need to:

  • Meet the requirements as outlined by the Home Office;
  • have a genuine, workable business plan;
  • prove you are knowledgeable in the sector you wish to work in; and
  • pass an interview with the Home Office.

The application for an Entrepreneur Visa UK is very complex and lengthy. A professional immigration lawyer will greatly increase your chances of having your visa granted.

To meet the requirements of the Tier 1 Visa, you will need to meet the 95-point requirement outlined by the Home Office.

The 95 points are gained from:

  • Having £200,000 available to you for investment in the company (£50,000 through the Graduate Entrepreneur route).
  • Evidence of maintenance funds to support yourself before you start the business. The amount you will need increases with each Tier 1 dependent on your visa.
  • Proof of English Language ability. This can be shown by a degree taught in English or an IELTS test.

You can also apply if you have access to £50,000 in investment funds from one or more of the following:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by the Department for International Trade (DIT); or
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business or venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

To find out more about your personal circumstances, speak with a lawyer before starting your application.

The UK government operates a separate route for recent graduates from UK institutions, or those identified as elite global graduate entrepreneurs through the Sirius programme with an endorsement from the Department of International Trade (DIT).

This visa allows someone who has a Bachelor’s Degree or above to stay in the UK for a period of 12 months. It also allows for the possibility of an extension for another year provided the business has proven successful during the length of the initial Entrepreneur Visa.

Graduate entrepreneurs benefit from a reduced investment requirement but the route is limited to 2,000 a year and the interview process is very strict.

Find out all you need to know about the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur interview is a vital part of the application process. You will be closely scrutinised to ensure that you are a genuine entrepreneur.

You must know every detail of your business plan and will need to show an extensive knowledge of the sector you intend to work in. You will also be asked about your forecasts, margins and competition.

Read more about writing a Tier 1 Entrepreneur business plan.

Being in the UK on an Entrepreneur Visa means that your primary employment is with the company you are starting or taking over. You are permitted to take a second job but there are limitations on the number of hours you are allowed to work per week.

You must also have evidence that this will not interfere with your business plan.

Because this is such a complicated application with a high refusal rate, we have supported many applicants who have previously had their Entrepreneur Visa refused.

From minor errors such as incorrect or missing information on your application form to failing the genuine entrepreneur test during your interview, we will be able to identify the issue with your previous application and advise you through the process again.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is one of the most commonly refused visa applications. As an applicant, your business plan will be scrutinised, both on paper and during your Entrepreneur Visa interview.

At IAS, our team of highly-trained immigration specialists will be able to advise you on the correct procedures, preparation and backing documents that you need when applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. They will:

  • ensure that your business plan is as detailed and comprehensive as it needs to be;
  • ensure that you are properly prepared for your Entrepreneur Visa interview;
  • liaise with the Home Office during your application;
  • prepare a Letter of Representation. This letter references your case and its merits as well as referencing any relevant UK immigration laws in support of your application;
  • perform an extensive document check to ensure that they are sufficient for your application; and
  • complete your application form to the highest standard.

Call us on 0333 363 8577 or use our online enquiry form.