If you want to run a business in the UK or invest into an existing one, a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa can help you to pursue your business aspirations. The route requires investment into your target business over a period of 3 years. You will be expected to have GBP50,000 or GBP200,000 for investment into either an existing business or start up. You can use your own funds or funds from a 'third party' including 'friends', family or an investor. If your visa is approved, you will be issued with the right to remain in the UK initially for 3 years. Your immediate family members will be able to join you. You can also make a Tier 1 Entrepreneur dependant visa application for your immediate family members such as your husband, wife and children to join in you in the UK.
The lessor amount of GBP50,000 can be used if you secure seed investment or are switching from a visa known as a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur. Seed investment is from an FCA regulated investor and is less popular given the difficulty to secure such investment. The GBP200,000 figure is for those that do not secure seed investment however have a genuine business idea or existing business that they can inject these funds into within the 3 year term.
If you are in the UK and hold a visa that allows you to switch into the Tier 1 Entrepreneur scheme, you can apply in the UK to the Home Office. Examples of visas that allow for you to switch inside the UK includes Tier 1 Investors, Tier 2 Migrants and Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa holders. Applications made outside of the UK are considered by an Entry Clearance Officer ('ECO').
The process is usually consider in three stages:
The Home Office or visa processing centre have to assess whether you are able to operate as a business person in your desired business area. This is known as the genuine entrepreneur test. In light of this condition, a business plan is mandatory and must include detailed market research. Your business plan will be assessed initially without your involvement and if it is concluded to have merits, you will be invited for an interview. Knowing your business plan is extremely important. It is this stage that you get to show the decision maker that you are genuine and this stage can be the make or break point.
You do not need to start your business before your visa is issued. Once your visa has been approved, you must become a director or self-employed within 6 months. In addition to investing money and becoming a director, you will also need to create 2 jobs for a minimum term of 12 months. Without doing this, you will not be eligible to extend your visa for a further 2 years.
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur scheme leads to the right to stay in the UK permanently known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR). Like the Tier 1 investor visa, you can have up to 180 day per calendar year outside of the UK, as the Home Office understand that a business person may have business responsibilities to attend outside of the UK.