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The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa Extension Demystified

With a stable political landscape, strong economy, and a robust rule of law, the UK will always be an attractive place for entrepreneurs to invest their time and money in. Although the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa closed in March 2019, there are still hundreds of smart, brilliant business people who successfully entered the UK via the entrepreneur route and will be applying for extensions over the coming years.

Having your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extended is a vital part of the overall process of obtaining Settlement in the UK. However, the Home Office regularly refuses extension applications. Therefore, you must start planning to extend your visa from the moment your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is granted.

In this article, we detail how to ensure your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extension application is granted swiftly, so you can move forward in growing your business and working towards Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The criteria for extending your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

Your initial Entrepreneur Visa is valid for three years. If you do not qualify for fast-track Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may be eligible to apply for an extension. However, you will need to meet strict eligibility criteria.

To extend your Entrepreneur Visa, you will need to show the following:

  • Your investment funds of 50,000 or 200,000 (depending on the level of funds needed in your initial application) have been invested by you or on your behalf into one or more UK businesses.
  • You have registered as a director of a new or existing company or registered as self-employed with HMRC, and this was done within six months of you entering the UK.
  • Your business has created at least two full-time positions for settled person's in the UK and these positions must have existed for 12 months or more before applying for the extension.
  • You meet the English language requirements
  • You have at least 945 in personal maintenance funds plus 630 for each dependent.

You must have a detailed record of your investments. UK Visa and Immigration will want to see evidence including:

  • Audited accounts (if your company is obliged to provide them; otherwise unaudited accounts and an accounts compilation report must be provided from an accountant. These accounts must show investments made by you or one or more seed funding competitions or Devolved Government Departments (in the case of the latter, a letter must accompany the accounts, stating the investment was made on your behalf).
  • Any investments made in the form of a director's loan must be shown on the relevant set of accounts. A legal agreement showing the terms of the loan must also be provided.
  • If you have made the investment in the form of share capital, the accounts must show the shareholders, the amount and value of the shares (on the date of purchase) in your name.
  • If you have invested some of the money in commercial property, the value of any residential property which may comprise some of the dwellings must be removed from the calculations.

The Genuine Entrepreneur Test

You need to show UKVI that your business is viable and sustainable. Immigration officials will consider the credibility of the jobs you have created, your business activities, and your financial records and forecasts when assessing whether you have created or are a director of a genuine business. You may be asked to submit further documents such as a business plan to support your claims.

The business plan

Many Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extension applications fail due to inadequate business plans. The most common mistake we see is applicants presenting the same business plan used to attract investment and/or finance. These types of business plans focus on sales forecasts and profit projections. Whilst these are important details to include in your Entrepreneur Visa extension business plan, they should not be the main focus. Instead, you should highlight your strategy for continuing to create jobs for settled persons and contributing to the UK economy. In other words, make sure the business plan you present to immigration caseworkers makes clear that you have a deliverable plan in place to meet the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa requirements.

Job creation

The job creation element of a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extension is strict. The jobs must comprise of at least 30 hours each per week to qualify as full-time. It is important to note that multiple, part-time positions cannot be combined to make a full-time role. However, a single job does not need to exist for a consecutive 12 months; for example, if you hire someone for six months for six months in one year and six months the following year, this will meet the criteria, providing the position remains the same.

You will need to provide evidence that the employees have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK or they are a British Citizen.

Fast track to settlement

If you meet the below criteria, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after three years leave on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa instead of the usual five years.

You will need to show your organisation has:

  • reached a turnover of 5 million or more, or
  • created at least ten full-time jobs over three years.

You will also need to meet all the other criteria for Indefinite Leave to remain including continuous residence, passing the Life in the UK Test, and meeting the English language requirements.

Obtaining support

The best strategy for ensuring a successful Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extension application is to work with an experienced immigration lawyer during the three years of your leave to remain. By seeking advice through each stage of your journey, for example, as you make investments and hire new employees, you can be confident you are fully compliant with the extension requirements and the application process will be straightforward.

By partnering with an immigration solicitor as soon as you think about apply for an Entrepreneur Visa, you can be confident that your business venture and your personal journey towards settlement will benefit from the best legal advice.

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