Personal Immigration

Home Office announces important changes to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category

Today the Home Office has released a Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules with broad and sweeping changes across many categories in the Immigration Rules. The majority of changes will come into force on 6 April 2015.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

The following changes will be made:

• It is now mandatory to provide a business plan for initial applications

This was previously included in the guidance as a suggested document to show that an applicant was a genuine entrepreneur. The explanatory statement explains that because Immigration Officers were requesting this in a large number of cases, it is now mandatory to provide it with the application.

• If you are relying on investment funds which you have held for less than 90 days you will need to provide specified evidence of the source of your funds

This is a similar requirement to that applicable to Tier 1 (Investors). The source of funds has always been relevant to the genuine entrepreneur test.

• There are changes to the specified evidence needed to demonstrate access to your investment funds including how long it has been held for. If an applicant is relying on bank statements these will need to cover a 90 day period.

• The evidence of investment funds previously needed to be dated within 3 months of the date of application, it will now need to be within 31 days.

This brings the investment funds date in line with the maintenance funds date.

• There are changes to the specified evidence requirements for those relying on funds from Government departments, seed funding and Venture Capitalists

• There are changes to the rules for those who want to switch from Tier 1 (General) into Tier 1 (Entrepreneur). People in this category will now need to show that they have been continuously self-employed or registered as a company director since before 6 April 2015.

The explanatory statement indicates that the Tier 1 (General) switching route has been identified as open to abuse, in a similar way to the PSW switching route. Therefore there are now similar requirements in place for applicants to demonstrate that they have been continuously engaged in a business providing a service at NQF level 4 or above since before 6 April 2015.

• There are changes to the specified evidence requirements for both Tier 1 (General) and PSW switchers.

• Where anyone previously needed to demonstrate that they were a company director with a current appointments report, there is now an additional requirement to provide the Companies House filing history page also.

• The Rules will in future provide a definition as to what is involved in property investment and property management: “The principle is that the business income must be generated from the supply of goods and/or services, and not derived from the increased value of property or any income generated from property, such as rent.”

This definition is being added as a result of increased requests to the Home Office for clarification on this matter.

• Those applying for an extension will need to demonstrate that they have genuinely invested their money into their business, that they genuinely operate that business and that they genuinely intend to continue operating their business.

• The Home Office will take into account factors such as the credibility of the accounts submitted, the credibility of the business activity, and the credibility of the jobs created.

These are very significant changes which will affect those who have already entered the category, as well as new entrants. This is a similar test to that which was brought in for initial applications in January 2013, and is now the reason that a lot of initial entrepreneur applicants are interviewed and ultimately refused. This is likely to have an extensive effect on many entrepreneurs in the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category.

There are also a number of changes coming into force in March 2015 in relation to rights of appeal from the Immigration Act 2014, which will affect some Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants.

Further and more detailed blog articles will be published about these changes as the UKVI updates the internal guidance documents.

For information and advice about Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) initial or extension applications please contact our specialist immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or info@richmondchambers.com.

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