A Short Guide to UK Immigration for Entrepreneurs
If you wish to set up or invest in a business in the UK, you may qualify to live and work in the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur.
You can also switch into the entrepreneur immigration category if you are already in the UK under Tier 1, 2 or 4 of the points-based system. Your family members may accompany you as your dependents.
Initial applications: UK tier 1 entrepreneur visa
For an initial entrepreneur visa application to succeed, you will need to show that you have access to:
- £200,000; or
- £50,000 if it is provided by a registered venture capitalist firm, UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition or UK Government Department; or
- £50,000 if you are currently in the UK as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or as a Tier 1 Post Study Work migrant.
You can rely on your own money (including money that has been gifted to you) or money that is held in any third parties’ account provided that they confirm that the funds are available to you for investment in a business. The funds must be held in a regulated financial institution and, if outside the UK, be freely transferable to the UK. You and one other person can apply together as an ‘entrepreneurial team’ as long as you both have equal access to the money.
You will need to be competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0 in reading, writing, listening and speaking) and have enough additional money to support yourself without relying on public funds.
You will also need to satisfy the Home Office that you genuinely intend and are able to be actively involved in the running of a UK business and that you have a viable and credible business plan. As part of your Entrepreneur visa application you may be interviewed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and, if so, our immigration barristers can provide you with an in-depth Entrepreneur interview preparation session.
If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 1 Post Study Work migrant, you will only be able to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category if you set up a business before 11 July 2014, have been continuously engaged in business activity since and are working in an occupation skilled to National Qualifications Framework level 4 or above.
Extension applications: UK tier 1 entrepreneur visa
In order to extend your stay as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur, you will need to show that:
- You registered as a business director or as self-employed within 6 months of either entering the UK as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur or being granted leave to remain as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur; and
- You have invested at least £200,000 or £50,000 (as appropriate) in a business or businesses in the UK; and
- You have created at least two full-time jobs for persons settled in the UK and these jobs have existed for at least 12 months.
Settlement in the UK: UK tier 1 entrepreneur visa
If you have invested in a new or existing UK business and your investment has created at least two new full-time jobs, you may apply for permanent residence in the UK after five years. You may qualify for accelerated permanent residence after 3 years if you create 10 new jobs or your business received at least £5 million in income from business activity.
In addition, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language and Life in the UK.
You can spend up to 180 days (six months) outside the UK each year and still qualify for permanent residence.
Richmond Chambers LLP is widely recognised as one of the leading immigration practices for entrepreneurs in the UK. The quality of our work on behalf of entrepreneurs has been recognised through membership of UKTI’s UK Advisory Network, as well as a host of legal industry awards. Our entrepreneur immigration team works closely with entrepreneurs, business advisors, venture capitalists and business plan writers to prepare and submit high quality visa applications for entrepreneurs and their families.