Personal Immigration

Applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa with funding from a registered venture capital firm, a UKTI endorsed seed funding competition or a UK Government Department

The UK Immigration Rules make provision for entrepreneurs with high growth potential businesses to apply to come to, or remain in, the UK under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, where they have received at least £50,000 in funding from a registered venture capital firm, a UKTI endorsed seed funding competition, a UK Government Department or a Devolved Government Departments.

If you have access to not less than £50,000 from (i) one or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Services Authority, (ii) one or more UK Entrepreneurial seed funding competitions which are listed as endorsed on the UK Trade & Investment website, or (iii) one or more UK Government Departments, or Devolved Government Departments in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and made available by the Department(s) for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business, then you might be eligible to come to the UK as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Migrant. The money must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions and must be disposable in the UK.

You can rely on funding provided by one or more of the following sources:

(1) Registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Services Authority

Venture capital firms must be regulated and listed as venture capital firms by the Financial Services Authority to be considered for the award of points.   You can research the FSA Register to check whether a venture capital firm is regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For example, Balderton Capital is a venture capital firm which provides early-stage investment and later growth funding for technology companies, including enterprise software and services, communications and security, mobile computing, consumer services and media and financial services. Their focus is primarily on European-based companies, but also some in the US and Asia.  DN Capital was founded in 2000 as is a venture capital firm with a focus on early-stage capital and growth equity funding for software and digital media businesses.  As a European investor, DN Capital also helps US companies to enter the European market.

(2) UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on the UK Trade & Investment website 

A list of competitions that have been endorsed for this purpose and can be considered for the award of points is given on the UKTI website.

For example, Springboard is a mentorship-led accelerator program for start-ups, providing seed capital, office space and a smart-community with mentors and other entrepreneurs. It comes in the shape of an intensive 13 week programme based at the inspirational IdeaSpace, part of Cambridge University’s state-of-the-art Hauser Forum.

Red Gate Software successfully debuted the programme in 2009 and has subsequently extended it out to increase the number of teams and mentors involved through the support of angel investors and NESTA.  Alongside this, Springboard provides each founder with £5,000 (up to a maximum of three founders per start-up). The founders move to Cambridge for a 13 week programme where they receive intense mentoring and business support. Springboard culminates in an Investor Day where the teams get to present to venture capitalists and angel investors.

Seedcamp is an early-stage micro seed investment and mentoring programme which makes investment decisions several times throughout the year based on the winners of its events.

Seedcamp was created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs with over 600 mentors from a network of company builders; including seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, product experts, HR and PR specialists, marketers, lawyers, recruiters, journalists and venture capitalists. Following investment, a new Seedcamp company is included in an intensive year-long programme of events focusing on all the aspects of company's development.

Wayra aims to identify talent and promote innovation by accelerating digital business ideas from concept to reality. Wayra is a Telefonica backed initiative where only the highest calibers of teams are chosen for the 6 month programme. In exchange for a convertible note, start-ups will receive up to £50,000, state of the art office space, expert support and mentoring and access to the global Wayra network of 12 Academies throughout Europe and Latin America.

You can contact the UKTI for more information in relation to seed funds and accelerator programmes at info.entrepreneur@uktradeinvest.gov.uk   

(3) UK Government Departments or Devolved Government Departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and made available by the Department(s) for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business

Where a UK Government Department or Devolved Government Department is providing all or some of the funds specifically for the purpose of setting up or expanding a business in the UK, the funding package can be considered for the award of points. You can visit www.gov.uk for information on UK Government Departments and Devolved Government Departments.

For example, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills is a department for economic growth. It invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business.

Although you can rely on funds from more than one of the above sources in order to total the required £50,000, you may not mix your personal or other third party funds with the funding from the venture capital firms, seed funding competitions and/or UK Government Departments/Devolved Government Departments towards the £50,000. If you wish to mix the funds, you will need to invest £200,000 into a UK business.

The investment funds requirement can, however, be met from funding obtained from the venture capital firm(s), seed funding competitions and/or UK Government Department(s)/Devolved Government Departments that has already been invested in a business together with access to any balance of money from these sources needed to total £50,000.

For advice or assistance with applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or info@richmondchambers.com

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