Personal Immigration
Business Immigration

The ‘Genuine Entrepreneur Test’ for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applications

Following a change to the Immigration Rules that came into force on 31 January 2013, if you are an individual seeking to enter, or remain in, the UK under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, then you are now required to satisfy the UK Border Agency that you genuinely intend and are able to establish, take over or become a director of one or more businesses in the UK within the next six months.  As an applicant for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, you will also be required to show that you genuinely intend to invest your money in one or more UK businesses.

In assessing whether you are a genuine entrepreneur, the UKBA may take into account (a) the evidence that you have submitted; (b)  the viability and credibility of the source of your money; (c)  the viability and credibility of your business plans and market research into your chosen business sector; (d) your previous educational and business experience (or lack thereof); (e)  your immigration history and previous activity in the UK; and (f)  any other relevant information.

Previous education and business experience

If you are applying to enter or remain in the UK in the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category, the UKBA will expect you to provide a detailed CV with your application.  Your CV should clearly set out any relevant academic or vocational qualifications, as well as any work experience that is relevant to your chosen business sector.  Relevant work experience may include internships, training placements, apprenticeships, part-time or full-time self-employment or employment.

Previous experience of setting up or running a business is particularly important and should be clearly highlighted in your CV.  If you do not have experience of setting up or running a business, then your application may be strengthened if you can show that you have sought advice about setting up a business in the UK from a professional business advisor before making your application.

As always when applying for a UK visa, you should corroborate the information that is set out in your CV with original supporting documentary evidence wherever possible.

Business plan and market research

In addition to providing a detailed CV, when applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa the UKBA is likely to expect you to submit a detailed business plan as part of your application.  Your business plan should include relevant market research into your chosen business sector and a detailed financial statement which clearly sets out the projected turnover, costs, profit and loss for your business.

In terms of market research, if you have recently resided in the UK, then the UK Border Agency may expect you to have undertaken some market research in the areas where you are proposing to set up your business during your time in the UK.

In terms of financial projections, any figures quoted must be realistic and the source of the figures quoted should be clearly identified and supported by relevant documentary evidence.  For example, if you wish to rent an office in London for your business, it is important that you undertake market research into the property rental market in London and provide a realistic quotation for your proposed office. Any quotation provided should be properly sourced.  For example, if figures are obtained from an estate or letting agency in London, you should provide the name and contact details of the agency together with the weekly or monthly rental cost of the proposed property.

If you do not have experience of drafting a business plan, we strongly recommend that you seek professional advice and assistance from an experienced business advisor or other suitably qualified person who will be able to assist you to prepare an appropriate business plan.

The entrepreneur test

If the UK Border Agency has any concerns regarding your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application, or if they simply require further information in order to assess whether you are a genuine entrepreneur, then you may be invited to attend an interview as part of the application process.

Our experience shows that at the interview, increasingly referred to by applicants as ‘the entrepreneur test’, you will be expected to demonstrate relevant academic qualifications and/or work experience in relation to your chosen business sector.  You can expect to be questioned about your existing business experience and, particularly if you have none, whether or not you have sought the advice of a business advisor about setting up and running a business in the UK.

You can also expect to be asked questions that are designed to test your knowledge of your business plan and your proposed market. You may, for example, be asked to provide a summary of your business plan and to answers questions on key issues such as your plans in terms of staff recruitment and your proposed marketing methodology.  The UKBA will be looking to assess whether the information that you provide to them matches the information that is set out in your business plan.  However, their questions may go beyond your business plan.  For example, if you propose to set up an internet-based business, then you should be prepared to demonstrate a good level of knowledge of online marketing strategies.  Alternatively, if your business plan indicates that attending film festivals is significant to the expansion of your business, then you may be expected to demonstrate a good knowledge of the main film and TV festivals that are held in London in each year.

You should not regard the entrepreneur interview as a test as such, but rather as an opportunity to demonstrate that you are both able and genuinely intend to establish a business in the UK.  That said, an applicant who is well prepared for the interview is likely to more easily persuade the UKBA that their application is credible and that they satisfy the genuine entrepreneur requirement of the new Immigration Rules.

For further advice or assistance with preparing an application for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant, or preparing for an entrepreneur interview, contact our immigration barristers in Covent Garden, London on 0203 617 9173 or by email


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