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Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visas

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if:

  • you want to set up or run a business in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

In most cases, you must have access to at least £200,000 investment funds to apply.

If you are unsure of your position or would like to ensure that your application is handled by a knowledgeable specialist, get in touch with one of our friendly team members now on 0203 384 4389 to find out exactly how we can assist you to get it right first time round, saving you time, money and the heartache of being refused.

Further Information

How long it will take

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Example:

You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

How long you can stay

You can come to the UK with a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months.

You can apply to extend this visa for another 2 years if you’re already in this category and 3 years if you’re switching to it from another category.

You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you’ve been in the UK for 5 years.

What you can and can't do

You can:

  • set up or take over the running of one business or more
  • work for your business, including being self-employed, but you should check your work meets the conditions of being self-employed
  • bring family members with you

You cannot:

  • do any work outside your business, for example work where you’re employed by another business
  • get public funds

Eligibility

You must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Your funds must be:

  • held in one or more regulated financial institutions
  • free to spend (‘disposable’) on business in the UK

There are different eligibility requirements depending on whether you have access to £50,000 or to £200,000.

You must also:

  • meet the English language requirement
  • be able to support yourself during your stay
  • be at least 16 years old

Sharing investment funds

You can form an ‘entrepreneurial team’ with one other Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicant and share the same investment funds.

You and your team member must meet all the application requirements and:

  • not use the same funds on another application with a different entrepreneurial team
  • provide all the documents needed for evidence of the funds with your own applications

Knowledge Of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways.

Exceptions

You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances.

Access to £50,000 investment funds

You can 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)
  • 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)

You can also apply if you’ve already invested £50,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.

The funding rules are different if you’re changing (switching) from another visa, or if you’ve already had a UK visa.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

You can apply if you have a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa and want to change (switch) your visa.

Your funding can come from any source.

You can rely on investments from up to 24 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (General)

You can apply if you have a Tier 1 (General) visa and want to change (switch) your visa.

You can apply with funding from:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed byDIT
  • a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business

You can also apply using money from a venture capital firm if you have been either:

  • involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 6 April 2015
  • working in a job on the list of occupations at the RQF level 4 or above since before 6 April 2015

You cannot apply using money from any other source, including your own money.

You can rely on investments from up to 12 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

Apply as a former student

You may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you’re already in the UK and you’re a Tier 4 visa holder.

You can apply with funding from:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by DIT
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business

Your investment funds cannot include:

  • your own money
  • money from any other third parties
  • money from a UK venture capital firm

The funds must be held in the UK if you’re applying for leave to remain.

You can rely on investments from up to 12 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

If you have financial sponsorship

If your course fees and living costs have been paid for by a government or international scholarship agency, you must get written consent from them to re-enter or remain in the UK without any conditions.

Access to £200,000 investment funds

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you have access to £200,000 in investment funds and you can prove that the money is either:

  • your own
  • made available to you by other people (‘third parties’), such as a spouse, partner or investor
  • in a joint account with your spouse or partner but only if they are not applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

The funds must be held in the UK if you’re applying for leave to remain.

Previous investment

You can also apply if you’ve invested £200,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.

Apply as a former Tier 4 student

If you’re in the UK and hold a Tier 4 student visa, you must follow the rules for applying with £50,000 funding.

Apply if you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (General) visa

If you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (General) visa, you can only apply with £200,000 of your own funds if you:

  • have been involved in running one or more UK businesses (for example you’re listed as a company director) since before 6 April 2015
  • have been working in a job on the list of occupations at the regulated qualifications framework level 4 and above since before 6 April 2015

Documents you must provide

The documents you need to provide depend on how you’re being endorsed.

Endorsed by a UK higher education institution (HEI)

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a letter of endorsement from your UK HEI
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK – you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

You’ll also need to provide the following if your degree was awarded by a different UK HEI than the one providing your endorsement:

  • an original certificate of your qualification or an accepted alternative
  • proof that you have knowledge of the English language

You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.

Endorsed by the Department for International Trade (DIT)

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • a letter of endorsement fromDIT
  • an original certificate of your academic qualification or an alternative from the documents guide
  • previous passports
  • a residence permit, ‘green card’ or valid visa if you’re not a national of the country from where you’re applying
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £945 in savings if applying from inside the UK or £1,890 if applying from outside the UK – you must have had this in your bank account for 90 days before you apply
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • a letter from NARIC that proves you can use your qualification to apply for this visa

You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.

You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Extend your visa

You may be able to extend your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

You can apply to extend your visa if you:

  • meet the eligibility requirements
  • registered as a director or as self-employed no more than 6 months after the date you were given permission to stay in the UK under a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa
  • can prove you’ve been self-employed, a member of a partnership or working as a director of a business 3 months before you apply
  • created at least 2 full time jobs that have existed for at least 12 months

You must have invested into 1 or more UK businesses either:

  • £200,000 in cash
  • £50,000 in cash if your initial application was based on having funds from an approved funding source

You should include any dependants who are on your current visa on your application to extend – including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

How long it takes

A decision will be made on your application within 8 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer. This could be because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

Switch to this visa

You may be able to switch to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

You should apply before your current visa expires.

You can apply to switch to this visa if you meet the eligibility requirements and you’re already in the UK under one of the following categories:

  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • a visitor who has been carrying out permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur

You can also switch from one of the following categories if you have specific types of funding:

  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 4

You must leave the UK and make your application from abroad if you’re in another category.

You must meet the extension criteria, not the switching criteria, if you have had leave in this category in the 12 months before you apply.

How long you can stay

You can stay a maximum of 3 years after switching to a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

How long it takes

A decision will be made on your application within 8 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer. This could be because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances, for example you have a criminal conviction

Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.

Family Members

Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:

  • your partner
  • your child under 18
  • your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as a dependant

Adult family members must provide a criminal record certificate from any country they have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years.

Savings

You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.

Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them – this is in addition to the £945 you must have to support yourself.

The amount depends on your circumstances. You must have £1,890 for each dependant if you’re applying from outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months. If you’ve been in the UK for more than 12 months, you must have £630 for each dependant.

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

Example:

You must have £4,725 if you want to bring your partner and one child with you to the UK (£945 to support yourself plus £1,890 for your partner and £1,890 for your child).

Children born while you’re in the UK

If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply for permission for them to stay.

You must do this if you want to travel in and out of the UK with them.

When you apply, send a full UK birth certificate for each child showing the names of both parents.

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