Extending a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Where a Member of An Entrepreneurial Team Has Left and the Business Idea Has Changed
At the end of March 2019, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme came to an end and was replaced by the newer innovator and start-up routes, but it is still possible to apply for an extension. One of the interesting features of the entrepreneur visa was that it allowed 'entrepreneurial teams' of two people join forces to claim points for the same investments, available funds, jobs created, and business activity when making an initial, extension, and settlement application. Entrepreneur visas required that:
- Each person has an equal level of control over the investment funds and (where relevant) equal status as owners, directors and/or members of the business.
- Each member of the team is both shown by name, passport number and (where relevant) Points-Based System reference number in each other's applications
- Neither person can previously have been granted leave under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route migrant on the basis of investment and/or business activity linked in this way with any applicant other than each other if the same funds were relied on in a previous application.
In some cases, however, having been granted an Entrepreneur visa, the entrepreneurial team members may go their separate ways before it is possible to apply for an extension. This then raises the question; can the remaining business owner apply for an Entrepreneur visa extension due to such changes in circumstance?
See also ‘Why the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa was closed’.
Extending an entrepreneur visa when there is no team
Given that an entrepreneurship team is defined as having only two people if one person leaves, then there is no longer a team. It may be possible to apply for an extension as an individual, however, when making such an application, it is highly recommended that you engage the services of immigration Solicitors. As part of the extension application process, they will ensure that the circumstances which led to one member of the team leaving and the current arrangements for the business are fully explained.
It is possible that where you were able to share the obligation to invest £50,000 or £200,000 (depending on which option you chose), you may now have to satisfy this on your own merits.
Requirements for an extension of an entrepreneur visa
In order to apply for an extension of an entrepreneur visa, you will need to satisfy the Home Office that you:
- pass the Genuine Entrepreneur Test; and
- score 75 points on the points-based system
The Genuine Entrepreneur Test
In order to pass the Genuine Entrepreneur Test, the Home Office will assess whether you:
- have established, taken over or become a director of one or more genuine businesses in the UK, and have genuinely operated that business;
- have invested the necessary funds into one or more genuine businesses in the UK, and;
- intend to continue operating one or more businesses in the UK
The Tier 1 entrepreneur visa extension guidance states the following information will be considered:
- the evidence you submit;
- the viability and credibility of the investment funds
- the credibility of the financial accounts of the business or businesses;
- the credibility of your business activity in the UK;
- the credibility of the job creation which you are claiming points;
- if the nature of the business requires mandatory accreditation, registration and/or
- insurance, whether that accreditation, registration and/or insurance has been obtained;
- and any other relevant information
It is clear that the quality and integrity of the information provided as part of your application to extend must be as high as possible.
Meeting the points-based system requirement
When assessing whether you have 75 or more points, the Home Office will refer to table D of the extension applications points table. Points are awarded as follows:
- 20 points - if you have invested, or have caused investment to be made by one or more third parties, of £200,000 or £50,000 (depending on which investment level you and your co-entrepreneur stated you would invest when you first applied). In this case, you may be required to show that the investment has been made even though your co-entrepreneur has left the business.
- 20 points – if you registered your company or as self-employed with the relevant authority within six months of entering the UK
- 15 points – if within three months of applying for an extension, your company has been registered or you have been registered as self-employed with the relevant authority
- 20 points – if you have created a new business or businesses that have created a minimum of two new full-time jobs for settled workers, or you have joined or taken over an existing business or businesses leading to the creation of at least two new full-time jobs.
The Home Office is very strict when it comes to providing evidence that the required level of investment has been made and will ask to see detailed accounts showing the investment of money by you, a government department, seed funding source, or a third party. If the investment is made by a third party, it will be important to prove that it was related to your business activity. If the funds were provided by a venture capital firm, you will need to show that they are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
The entrepreneurship team’s policy is designed to allow two applicants to share the same investments, available funds, jobs created and business activity. If one person leaves the business, it may be possible to extend an entrepreneur visa if the remaining person can satisfy all of the extension eligibility requirements on their own merit. Furthermore, if you have changed the business idea on which the initial application was based, this may not prevent you from applying for an extension. What will matter is that you meet all of the eligibility requirements relating to investment, business activity, and employment of settled workers. As the policy guidance is not clear on this exact scenario, it is important to engage the services of an immigration lawyer who will proactively ensure that your application contains all of the information necessary to secure a positive outcome. And crucially, if you have yet to meet the requirements, they will explain what you will need to do before applying for an extension. This way, you can be assured of having the best chance of a positive outcome and will allow you to focus on your day to day business activities while your immigration matters are taken care of.
Related Article: Read ‘Coming to the UK as a Tier 1 Investor: what you should consider’