UK Investors And Entrepreneur Visas Tier 1

Tier 1 Visas

There are two subclasses of tier 1 visas and we shall examine them both here. Firstly, we have the investor option and will then discuss the entrepreneur route.  They are similar in many regards and often it is down to personal choice and lifestyle which route a client will select.

The Tier 1 Investor Visa Overview

The Tier 1 Investor visa is designed to attract high net worth non-EEA nationals to invest and live in the UK.

Tier 1 Investor visa holders and their immediate family (spouse and children under the age of 18) are allowed to live in the UK, however they are not required to work, study or undertake business activities here, nor do they need to pass any English language tests or satisfy the maintenance requirements associated with many other visa categories.

One of the benefits of the Tier 1 Investor visa category is that holders of this visa (and their family members) will have access to the UK’s education system. In addition, the Tier 1 Investor category provides a pathway towards British Citizenship after a period of 6 years provided the required criteria are satisfied.

Specific requirements – Tier 1 Investor visa

To qualify for the Tier 1 Investor visa the applicant must achieve a score of 75 by proving they:

  • Have money of their own under their control which is held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK amounting to not less than £2 million; and
  • Have opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purposes of investing not less than £2 million in the UK. Note that as of 6 April 2015 it is a requirement that applicants must have a UK regulated investment bank account before making their initial application.

In addition to the criteria above it is important to note that you must be at least 18 years old to make an application, and the assets and investment you are claiming points for must be wholly under your control.

 

Investments and source of funding

The money to be invested should be held in the bank account for 3 months prior to application. If the money has been held in the bank account or portfolio for less than 3 months, it is necessary to give specified evidence of the source of the money. The source of funding in this case can be one of the following:

  • Gift
  • Sale deed
  • Evidence from a business
  • Will
  • Divorce Settlement
  • Award or winnings
  • Other sources – considered on a case by case basis whereby specified evidence must be provided.

Investor visa duration

Initially investor visas are granted for three years and four months. They can then be extended for another two years by providing evidence that an investment of at least £ 2 million was made in the UK.

Investor visa extensions

When applying for an extension to a Tier 1 Investor visa applicants must demonstrate the following:

  • You must show that you have invested not less than £2 million in the UK by way of UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies.
  • Investors are required to make their investment in the UK in the form of UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital. Note that the funds must not be invested in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development.

Investor visas & indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

The length of time required to qualify for ILR/permanent residence depends on the amount of investment, as follows:

  • Investment of £2 Million
    As an investor you will qualify for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years, provided that you have invested £2,000,000 in the UK.
  • Investment of £5 million
    If you invest £5,000,000 you will be able to apply for ILR after the investment has been in place for three years.
  • Investment of £10 million
    If you invest £10,000,000 you will be able to apply for ILR after the investment has been in place for at least two years.

In order to qualify for settlement (ILR) investors are not permitted to spend more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 calendar month period.

Switching into the investor visa category

Holders of one of the following visa categories are eligible to switch into the Tier 1 Investor category while remaining in the UK.

  • A highly skilled migrant
  • A Tier 1 (General) migrant
  • A Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) migrant
  • A Tier 1 (Post – Study Work) migrant
  • A Tier 2 migrant
  • A Business Person
  • An Innovator
  • A Tier 4 student
  • A student
  • A student nurse
  • A student re-sitting an examination
  • A student writing up a thesis
  • A Work Permit holder
  • A writer, composer or artist
  • An Investor

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Guide

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category is for foreign national business persons who would like to come to the UK establish a business here or join and invest into an existing business.

Under this category the main applicant’s immediate family members (‘dependents’) can join them in the UK. This includes the main applicant’s partner and children under the age of 18. The applicant’s children will be eligible to participate in the UK’s education system. In addition, this visa category also provides holders with a pathway to permanent residency and subsequently British citizenship.

Eligibility requirements

To submit a successful application an applicant must score a total of 95 points based on the funds that are available to them for investment (75 points), their English language ability (10 points), and their ability to satisfy the UK maintenance requirements (10 points). Applicants must also be at least 16 years of age.

To achieve the funds requirements applicants need to have access to either:

  • At least £200,000, with all funds to be disposable (free to spend) and held in a regulated financial institution; or
  • At least £50,000 available from one of the following sources:
    • 1 or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Services authority; or
    • 1 or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on the UK Trade and Investment website, or
    • 1 or more UK government departments, which have made the funds available for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business.

It's important to understand that holders of a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa may not seek or undertake paid employment in the UK other than working for the business or businesses that they have established, joined or taken over.

Entrepreneur visa duration

Entrepreneur visas are initially granted for a period of three years and four months. This visa can be extended for an additional two years provided specific requirements are met. See the section below regarding Entrepreneur visa extensions for more information.

Entrepreneur visa extension

You may extend your visa for an additional two years providing the following conditions are met:

  • You have invested £200,000 in the company; and
  • The company has been registered within 6 months of the date you were granted permission to stay in the UK under the Entrepreneur category; and
  • You have created at least 2 full-time positions for settled workers. For a new business this means that an aggregate of two positions, full time or equivalent, must have been created with each lasting for at least one year. In cases where an applicant has taken over control of an established UK business, their investment and presence in the company must have created two positions similar to those outlined above.

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

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Once you have been in the UK for 5 years as an Entrepreneur visa holder you will be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

To qualify for ILR you must:

  • Have lawfully resided in the UK on this visa for 5 years. Note that in order to qualify you can have no more than 180 days absence from the UK in each of these years.
  • Be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK.

Alternatively, ILR status can be achieved after 3 years if the following criteria are met:

  • You have invested £200,000 in the company; and
  • The company has been registered within 6 months of the date you were granted permission to stay in the UK under the Entrepreneur category; and
  • You have created at least 10 full-time positions for settled workers. For a new business this means that an aggregate of two positions, full time or equivalent, must have been created with each lasting for at least one year. In cases where an applicant has taken over control of an established UK business, their investment and presence in the company must have created 10 positions similar to those outlined above; or
  • Established a new business with income activity of at least £5m during the 3 year period.

British Citizenship

Once you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain you then have a pathway towards qualifying for British citizenship.

Typically, Entrepreneur visa holders are eligible to apply for British citizenship after having spent 6 years in the UK, however there are faster routes available for those responsible for creating businesses with a high turnover or a high number of jobs.

Switching into the Entrepreneur visa category

You can make an application to switch into the Entrepreneur visa category provided that you are already in the UK under one of the following categories and you satisfy the necessary eligibility requirements:

  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur)
  • Business person
  • Innovator
  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
  • Work permit holder
  • Self-employed lawyer
  • Writer, composer or artist
  • Investor
  • International Graduate Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • Tier 2
  • Prospective entrepreneur
  • 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 1 (Post-study work)
  • Tier 4
  • Student
  • Student re-sitting an examination
  • Student nurse
  • Student writing up a thesis
  • Postgraduate doctor or dentist

Please note that if you are a holder of another UK visa not listed above, you are required to leave the United Kingdom and submit your Entrepreneur visa application from abroad.

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