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Tier 1 General Visa

The Tier 1 visa route is one of the UK's most popular for foreign citizens looking to move to the UK. The routes were specifically designed for high-value migrants who were looking to move to the UK and are the most generous of all the routes available in the UK.  

Tier 1 Entrepreneur

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa was designed to help those with seed funding to come to the UK to start or take over an existing enterprise. The minimum funding needed to be considered is £50,000 but in reality, it is very hard to be eligible and most entrepreneurs will require £200,000 in funds that can be invested, are freely available and held in a regulated institution. You will be required to provide an appropriate business plan that is suited to the business and displays a clear need for your business and an effective plan of getting the business set up. The visa gives you a right to stay for 3 years and 4 months to start with and this can be extended.   Eligibility criteria:   For the £50,000 seed investment route, you will need to receive the funds from:  
  • UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by the Department for International Trade (DIT)
  • A venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • You can also apply if you've already invested £50,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.
  In addition to the specific rules on where your investment funds will come from, you will also need to meet the following eligibility criteria:  
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Be able to support yourself during your stay
  • Score 95 points
  • Be at least 16 years old
  The more common way to apply for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is via the £200,000 seed funds route, the criteria still require a solid business plan and the following eligibility criteria to be met:  
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Be able to support yourself during your stay
  • Score 95 points
  • Be at least 16 years old
  You will need to prove that the funding that you have for your business is one of the following:  
  • Your own money
  • made available to you by other people ('third parties'), such as a spouse, partner or investor.
  For those who have a solid business plan and the correct financial backing, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is a smart choice. Unless you fall into the very specific requirements of the £50,000 route, you will need to ensure that you have £200,000 available.    

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent

Another of the Tier 1 visa routes is the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. This visa is for people that have been endorsed by the home office as a leader or emerging leader in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts. But please note that even you do fall into this category the quota is limited to 1000 places a year. You will be able to stay for 5 years and 4 months if you apply from outside of the UK, or 5 years if you apply from within. The visa can also be extended for an additional 5 years.   You can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you've been endorsed in your field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts as:
  • a recognised leader (exceptional talent)
  • an emerging leader (exceptional promise)
Application process There's a 2-stage application process to get this visa. You first need to apply to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field. Then, once you have been endorsed, you can apply for the visa. There are limited places available under this visa category, with 500 places released on both 6 April and 1 October each year.   This particular route does not require you to pass any other eligibility criteria as those who qualify will be sufficiently talented to not require it.  

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

For graduates of UK universities who are endorsed by a UK higher education institution or by the Department for International Trade (DIT). The visa allows a stay of one year which can be extended.   The eligibility criteria are different depending on who sponsors your claim. Below we highlight the differences.  

Sponsored by a higher education institution

  • A UK-recognised bachelor's or master's degree or a PhD awarded before the endorsement date
  • An endorsement from an authorised higher education institution in the past 3 months
  • £945 in savings if applying from inside of the UK or £1890 if applying outside of the country.
  • Meet the English language requirement

Endorsement from the Department for International Trade (DIT)

  • A degree qualification that's recognised as equal to a UK bachelor's degree
  • An endorsement from the Department for International Trade in the past 3 months.
  • £945 in savings if applying from inside of the UK or £1890 if applying outside of the country.

Tier 1 Investor

For people who have at least £2,000,000 to invest in an active UK company. The visa allows an initial stay of 3 years and 4 months and can be extended by another 2 years.    
  • You want to invest £2,000,000 or more in the UK
  • You come from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • You meet the other eligibility requirements
  • You must have access to at least £2,000,000 in investment funds to apply.
  Another benefit of the Tier 1 Investor Visa is that you can apply to settle permanently in the UK after just 2 years if you invest £10 million, or 3 years if you invest £5 million. This way you can reduce the amount of time that it would generally take to get indefinite leave to remain (ILR) down from 5 years.  

Bringing dependents

You can bring dependents with you on a Tier 1 Visa but you will be required to prove that you can support them during your stay in the UK. The Home Office will advise you on what proof that they require when you make your application.  

More information and advice

If you need more advice or support with a Tier 1 Visa application or indeed any other immigration query then please get in touch. Our immigration specialists are on hand to help with your individual situation and can help with all circumstances.

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