This category replaced the Businessman Visa in June 2008. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is designed for businessmen who want to do business in the United Kingdom by setting up or taking over an existing business or want to be actively involved in one or several businesses in the United Kingdom.
In order to obtain a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, an applicant needs to score at least 75 points for specific attributes and also needs to score 10 points for his/her English language knowledge and 10 points for the maintenance category.
The applicant can score 75 points if he/she can prove access to not less than £200,000, which is held in one or more regulated banks, is in his/her own account, and is available in the United Kingdom. Alternatively, he/she must have access to not less than £50,000 from one or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Services, one or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on the UK Trade and Investment website or one or more UK government departments, which have made the funds available for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business, or have access to £50,000 and have been granted a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur or a Tier 1 Post Study Worker visa. £200,000 can be shared by a team of two businessmen. Each businessman can apply for a Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa using the same investment funds.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas are initially granted for 3 years, which can be extended for a further 2 years. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa also leads to indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence) on completion of 5 years (normal route) leave to remain in the UK under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur category.
However, it is possible to apply for permanent residence after 3 years (fast-track route) if your business has created at least 10 new full time jobs or your business generated at least £5 million turnover during a 3 year period. It is allowed to be outside the UK for more than 180 days every year during the continuous residence period.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa FAQs
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa is for those who are graduates of the UK higher education system (at Bachelors level or above) and have been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea either by their current UK University or by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). In practice it is very difficult to get this endorsement, as the business plan must be exceptional.
The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is for business people who are ready to use funds from their current or future business activities in the UK.
The Prospective Entrepreneur visa is designed for those who are coming to UK in order to secure funding to start, takeover or join and run their business in the UK.
The Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) and the Prospective Entrepreneur visas are aimed to help applicants to change their immigration status into that of the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.
In order to be eligible for the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, applicants must have access to £50,000 or £200,000 investment funds and be ready to invest this money in a business in the UK.
Applicants must show that they meet the English language requirement and is able to support themselves, their family and/or their dependents for the duration of their stay in the UK.
Applicants need to prove their knowledge of the English language. This can be proved in the following ways:
By passing an approved English language test such as IELTS (level 4 or above), TOEFL, etc.; or
By holding an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree level; or
By being a national of an English speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, etc.
Applicants will also need to show that they can maintain and accommodate themselves and their family dependents in the UK without claiming any public funds.
If the application is made outside of the UK then the applicant must demonstrate an account with £3310 in it during the last three months. This figure is £945 for applications from within the UK. For each dependent, an amount of £1890 (outside) or £945 (inside) must be shown.
They hold a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa; or
They hold a Tier 1 (Post study worker) visa; or
They hold a certificate of approval for £50,000 borrowing from either a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UKTI, or if a UK government department is making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business – this kind of certificate can be issued for an extraordinary Facebook or Google type business, usually in return for giving the government 40-50% of the company’s interest.
Applicants also need to pass a genuine entrepreneur test, which is conducted by the UK Border Agency.In practice this route is often more difficult than the £200,000 route.
Applicants can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if they hold £200,000 and their intention is to use this money in the UK towards their business interests.
This money can be the applicant’s, or made available by a third party such as a husband, parents, a business partner, an investor, etc.
Funds that the applicant has already invested in the UK not more than 12 months before the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application can also be used.
Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa applications have been refused on the following bases:
A poor business plan;
Failing the interviews conducted by Immigration Officers;
Not passing the genuine entrepreneur test;
Insufficient bank letter;
Failure to meet the maintenance requirement;
Occupational level below NQF4 (for £50,000 option);
Adverse immigration history; and
Source of money.
Tier 1 (General)
Tier 1 (Investor)
Tier 1 (Post-study work)
Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur)
Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
Work permit holder
Writer, composer or artist
They have invested £50,000 or £200,000, established, taken over or invested in an existing UK business, employ at least 2 full time staff, have lived and worked under a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa in the UK for 5 years and have spent a continuous period lawfully in the UK, with absences of no more than 180 days in any 12 calendar months during that period.
They have invested £50,000 or £200,000, established, taken over or invested in an existing UK business which resulted in a net increase income from business activity to that business of £5 million during a 3 year period or employ at least 10 full time staff and live. They have worked under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa in the UK for 3 years and have spent a continuous period lawfully in the UK, with absences of no more than 180 days in any 12 calendar months during that period.