Investors, Entrepreneurs, Innovators and highly talented individuals

Tier 1 (Investor) Visa

The Tier 1 Investor visa is for non-EEA nationals who have substantial funds available for investment in the UK. The applicant in this category must meet the following key requirements:

  • Have not less than £2million funds available;
  • The funds are held in a regulated financial institution and are transferrable to the UK;
  • Have a UK bank account opened with a UK regulated institution;
  • Have criminal record certificates from any country where resided for at least 12 months within 10 years before application.

The Tier 1 Investor applicants do not need to show English language ability nor maintenance funds. The initial visa is granted for 3 years and 4 months (3 years if switched from inside the UK) and it can be extended for a further 2 years. After 5 years the Tier 1 Investor can apply for settlement and then for UK citizenship. There is an accelerated settlement option after 3 years for those who invest £5million and after 2 years for those who invest £10 million.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route is closed to new applicants as of 29th March 2019 and replaced by the Innovator and Start up visa categories.  Those who already hold the 1 Entrepreneur visas will be able to apply for visa extension until 5 April 2023 and for Indefinite Leave to Remain/Settlement until 5 April 2025.

Switching applications for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applicants will remain open until 5 July 2021 and extension applications will remain open for these individuals until 5 July 2025, and settlement applications until 5 July 2027.

It is crucial to focus on fulfilling the criteria for the Entrepreneur visa extension from the date you acquire your initial Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. There are strict deadlines to complete certain steps such as registration as a Director or self employed within 6 months.

What are the key requirements to qualify for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa extension

  • You must register as a Director or as self-employed within 6 months;
  • You must invest in your business at least £200,000 (£50,000 when you relied on the funds from government department, FCA registered ventured capital firm or from Home Office approved seed funding competition).
  • You must create at least two full-time jobs for persons settled in the UK and these jobs have existed for at least 12 months.
  • Your company must be active and trading and you must be registered as a Director or self-employed when you submit your extension application.

What are the key requirements to qualify for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Indefinite Leave to Remain/Settlement

  • You must create at least two full-time jobs for persons settled in the UK and these jobs have existed for at least 12 months during the 2 years visa extension period.
  • You must have sufficient knowledge of English language and life in the UK;
  • You must have continuous period of five years residence in the UK (you may qualify for accelerated ILR after 3 years if you have created 10 new jobs or your business had a turnover of at least £5 million)
  • You must not have been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any of the five years prior to the date of application.

What are the key requirements to qualify for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur citizenship application:

  • You normally must hold an ILR for at least 1 year.
  • You must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days during the 5 years preceding your application (out of the 450 days, in the final year you can be absent for no more than 90 days).
  • You must be of good character.
  • You must have two people who have known you for at least 3 years and are willing to provide their reference for your application. One of them must be a person of any nationality with a professional standing e.g. accountant, police officer, teacher or lecturer. The other person must be a British citizen and either be a professional person or be aged over 25.

Innovator Visa

The Innovator visa category is for more experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants must demonstrate an ‘innovative’, ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea which is supported by an endorsing body listed on the Home Office list of Endorsing Bodies. With some exceptions, applicants are required to have funding of no less than £50,000 to invest in their business.

Applicants who are already in the UK under certain visa categories can switch to the Innovator visa from inside the UK:

  • Start-up
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2
  • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur, as set out in Appendix V

Requirements for Innovator visa

The requirements for the innovator visa are divided into ‘General’ and ‘Specific’. Both General and Specific requirements must be met for the Innovator visa to be granted. The initial visa is granted for 3 years. To qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)/Settlement the Innovator visa holder requires 3 years continuous residence in the UK.

General requirements for Innovator visa

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old;
  • B2 English language ability is required (approved English language test needs to be taken unless an applicant is from a majority English speaking country listed in the immigration rules OR have an university degree from the UK or a foreign university degree that was taught in English and is recognised as equivalent to UK degree by UK Naric);
  • The applicant must pass the credibility assessment*;
  • Maintenance funds required for the Main Applicant are £945. NOTE: Applicant does not need to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from the endorsing body confirms they have been awarded funding of at least £945 in addition to the £50,000 investment funds required.
  • There are no general grounds of refusal (e.g. applicant’s criminal record, breach of immigration rules).

*Credibility assessment

The Home Office must be satisfied that all of the following requirements are met:

  • The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
  • The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
  • Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.
  • The Home Office will take into account any endorsement of the applicant required under the rules, and may also take into account any or all of the following factors:
  • the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility
  • the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history
  • declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK
  • any other relevant information
  • The Home Office may request additional information and evidence from the applicant or the applicant’s endorsing body.
  • The Home Office may ask the applicant to attend an interview.
  • Specific requirements  for the Innovator visa

    Endorsement

    The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies here. Only the organisations from the Home Office list can grant endorsements for the Innovator visa.
    It is absolutely vital for applicants to first obtain an endorsement from one of the approved organisations before applying for the visa.

    Endorsing bodies responsibilities and their impact on the applicant’s visa

    Endorsing bodies will have significant responsibilities to monitor the Innovator business activities and keep the Home Office updated. These responsibilities are as follows:

    • To stay in contact with those they have endorsed at 6, 12 and 24 months checkpoints after their application is granted.
    • To inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
    • The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture;
    • The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria.
  • To inform the Home Office if an applicant misses any of these checkpoints without the endorsing body’s authorisation.
  • To withdraw its endorsement if either bullet point 2 or bullet point 3 immediately above applies, unless it is aware of exceptional and compelling reasons not to withdraw its endorsement, and informs the Home Office of those reasons.
  • To inform the Home Office if it has any reason to believe that an individual it has endorsed is working outside of their own business ventures, in breach of their conditions.
  • Must not be connected to past or present abuse of the immigration system.
  • Endorsement criteria – new business

    The endorsing body must be ‘reasonably satisfied’ that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on developing business ventures AND the applicant’s business idea meets the criteria of Innovation, Viability and Scalability. The Home Office defines the Innovation, Viability and Scalability as follows:
    Innovation: The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
    Viability: The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
    Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.

    Endorsement criteria – same business

    If the applicant is relying on endorsement under the same business criteria, the endorsement letter must confirm all of the following key points:

    • The applicant has shown significant achievements, judged against the business plan assessed in their previous endorsement.
    • The applicant’s business is registered with Companies House and the applicant is listed as a director or member of that business.
    • The business is active and trading.
    • The business appears to be sustainable for at least the following 12 months, based on its assets and expected income, weighed against its current and planned expenses.
    • The applicant has demonstrated an active key role in the day-to-day management and development of the business.
    • The endorsing body is reasonably satisfied that the applicant will spend their entire working time in the UK on continuing to develop business ventures.

    Endorsement criteria – settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain)

    If the applicant is making a settlement application, the endorsement letter must confirm both of the following:

    • The applicant meets all of the same business endorsement criteria set out in paragraphs above;
    • The applicant’s business venture meets at least two of the following requirements:
      • At least £50,000 has been invested into the business and actively spent furthering the business plan assessed in the applicant’s previous endorsement.
      • The number of the business’s customers has at least doubled within the most recent 3 years and is currently higher than the ‘mean number’ of customers for other UK businesses offering comparable main products or services.
      • The business has engaged in significant research and development activity and has applied for intellectual property protection in the UK.
      • The business has generated a minimum annual gross revenue of £1 million in the last full year covered by its accounts.
      • The business is generating a minimum annual gross revenue of £500,000 in the last full year covered by its accounts, with at least £100,000 from exporting overseas.
      • The business has created the equivalent of at least 10 full-time jobs for resident workers.
      • The business has created the equivalent of at least 5 full-time jobs for resident workers, which have an average salary of at least £25,000 a year (gross pay, excluding any expenses).
      • If the applicant is relying on the criteria for creating jobs:
        • The jobs must have existed for at least 12 months and comply with all relevant UK legislation, including (but not limited to) the National Minimum Wage Regulations in effect at the time and the Working Time Regulations 1998.
        • Each of the jobs must involve an average of at least 30 hours of paid work per week.

    Start up visa

    Requirements for the start up visa

    The Start up visa category is for individuals seeking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. The requirements for the start up visa are divided into ‘General’ and ‘Specific’. Both General and Specific requirements must be met for the Start up visa to be granted. Visa is granted for 2 years and it does not lead to Settlement in the UK but it can be switched to the Innovator category.

    Applicants who are already in the UK with certain visa categories can switch to a Start up visa from inside the UK:

    • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
    • Tier 2
    • Tier 4 (General) if certain requirements are met
    • a visitor who has been undertaking permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur.

    General requirements

    • The applicant must be at least 18 years old;
    • The applicant must have B2 English language ability (approved English language test is required unless the applicant is a national of one of the majority English speaking countries listed in the immigration rules OR has a university degree from the UK or has a foreign university degree that was taught in English and is recognised as equivalent to UK degree by UK NARIC);
    • The applicant must pass the credibility assessment*;
    • The applicant must have £945 maintenance funds. NOTE: There is no requirement to provide evidence of maintenance funds if the letter from the endorsing body confirms that at least £945 funding has been awarded.
    • There are no general grounds of refusal (e.g. applicant’s criminal record, breach of immigration rules);
    • The applicant does not need to be the sole founder of the business and may be a member of an entrepreneurial team.

    *Credibility assessment:
    The Home Office must be satisfied that all of the following requirements are met:

    • The applicant genuinely intends to undertake, and is capable of undertaking, any work or business activity in the UK stated in their application.
    • The applicant does not intend to work in the UK in breach of their conditions.
    • Any money which the applicant claims to be available is genuinely available as described, and the applicant intends to use it for the purposes described in the application.
    • The Home Office will take into account any endorsement of the applicant required under the rules, and may also take into account any or all of the following factors:
    • the evidence the applicant has submitted and its credibility
    • the applicant’s previous educational, work and immigration history
    • declarations made to other government departments regarding the applicant’s previous employment and other activity in the UK
    • any other relevant information.
  • The Home Office may request additional information and evidence from the applicant or the applicant’s endorsing body.
  • The Home Office may ask the applicant to attend an interview.
  • Specific requirements

    Endorsement  

    The Home Office has published a list of endorsing bodies here. The endorsing bodies are divided into: business endorsing bodies (generally business incubators, accelerators or venture capital organisations ) and HEI endorsing bodies (universities). Only the organisations from the Home Office list can grant endorsements for the Start up visa.
    It is absolutely vital for applicants to first obtain an endorsement from one of the approved organisations before applying for the visa.

    Endorsing bodies have the following responsibilities:

    • To stay in contact with those they have endorsed at 6, 12 and 24 months checkpoints after their application is granted.
    • To inform the Home Office if, at these checkpoints, both of the following apply:
      (1) The individual has not made reasonable progress with their original business venture
      (2) The individual is not pursuing a new business venture that also meets the endorsement criteria set out in the immigration rules.
    • To inform the Home Office if an applicant misses any of these checkpoints without the endorsing body’s authorisation.
    • To withdraw its endorsement if either bullet point 2 or bullet point 3 above applies, unless it is aware of exceptional and compelling reasons not to withdraw its endorsement, and informs the Home Office of those reasons.
    • To inform the Home Office if it has any reason to believe that an individual it has endorsed breaches any of their conditions.
    • Must not be connected to past or present abuse of the immigration system

    Endorsement criteria

    The applicant’s business must meet the criteria of ‘Innovation, Viability and Scalability’ AND the endorsing body must be ‘reasonably satisfied’ that the applicant will spend the majority of their working time in the UK on developing their business.  The Home Office defines the Innovation, Viability and Scalability as follows:

    • Innovation: The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.
    • Viability: The applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.
    • Scalability: There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

    NOTE: The requirement of Innovation, Viability and Scalability does not apply if the applicant’s previous leave was in the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) category, and the endorsement is from the same endorsing body.

    Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa

    The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is for non-EEA nationals who are world leaders or emerging world leaders in the fields of digital technology, humanities, engineering, science, the arts, architecture and fashion design. Obtaining the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa is a two stage process. Stage 1 is to obtain an endorsement from a designated competent body (DCB) for the particular field of applicant’s expertise. The DCBs are: the Tech Nation, the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Academy, the Arts Council. Each DCB has its own set of endorsement criteria and there is a limit of 2000 endorsements that can be granted each year. The limit has never been reached yet. The applicants must provide support letters from eminent experts in their respective fields as well as provide other documents to evidence their achievements to date. The processing time for endorsement is normally approximately up to 8 weeks, although there is an expedited option available for certain digital technology applicants (e.g. those with previous experience of scaling digital technology business or those who intend to be located in the North of England). Once the endorsement is obtained the applicant can apply for the visa within 3 months. The processing time for the visa varies but it is usually about 2-4 weeks. The initial visa is granted for up to 5 years and 4 months (exceptional Talent) and 3 years and 4 months (exceptional promise). Those who were endorsed as exceptional talent can apply for settlement after 3 years and those with exceptional promise endorsement can settle in the UK after 5 years. Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holder can work for any employer, be a Director or be self employed in the UK.

    Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) Visa

    Endorsements for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa are no longer issued as of 6th April 2019. If you have an endorsement from a Higher Education Institution or the Department for International Trade issued before this date, you can use it to make a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) application until 5th July 2019.

    If you have not been issued with an endorsement by 5th April 2019, you can apply to be endorsed under the new Start up visa category. List of approved endorsing bodies for the Start up visa can be found here.

    If you had an initial Graduate Entrepreneur visa valid for 1 year and you want to extend it for a further year you would also need to seek an endorsement under the new start visa route.

    The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is closed to new applicants from 29th March 2019. Switching applications for Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) applicants will remain open until 5 July 2021 and Entrepreneur extension applications will remain open for these individuals until 5 July 2025, and settlement applications until 5 July 2027.

    Meet the team

    Solicitor - Commercial

    Aleksandra is a Solicitor in the Commercial team. She joined the firm in April 2017 with 10 years’ experience working in law firms, advocates’ offices and non-governmental organisations in Poland and in the UK. Having originally qualified in Poland, Aleksandra is a dual-qualified lawyer with a highly varied practice and she is experienced in matters including immigration, criminal, civil and cross-jurisdictional cases.

    Aleksandra regularly advises companies and high net worth individuals on Tier 1, Tier 2 and Sole representative of an overseas business applications, and advises EEA nationals on permanent residence, naturalisation, and EEA family permit applications.

    Her practice has also involved representing Polish and international companies establishing businesses in Poland and in the UK, drafting and negotiating contracts and advising on suitable business entities and company formation.

    Aleksandra also works closely with the firm’s Private Client department and is involved in administration of estate and preparing wills and powers of attorney.

    Aleksandra graduated from the University of Gdansk with a master’s degree in Law, before qualifying as an advocate and has also achieved degrees in EU law and American law. Away from the office, Aleksandra enjoys fitness, classical music and learning languages.

    Aleksandra is a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.

    020 7406 1000 - AleksandraKowalska@cartercamerons.com
    Partner - Employment

    Andrew Firman is a partner in our corporate & commercial team. His employment practice covers both contentious and non-contentious work for both employers and employees. His corporate and banking practice concentrates on contractual and advice work given mainly to SMEs and charities. Additionally, he advises both individuals and businesses on a range of immigration matters.

    Transactions

    In his work, Andrew looks for proactive and pragmatic solutions derived from a proper understanding of the client’s perspective and against the background of the commercial constraints.

    Career highlights include

    • running a David v Goliath style battle for a former employee of a US based bank related to the late vesting of share options following that employee’s termination at a time when the US markets were in freefall
    • negotiating, finalising and drawing down for an off-shore SPV borrower at £310M facility to buy a group of companies which owned, as an investment, the London HQ of a multinational corporation

    More recently, Andrew has advised upon

    • the sale of a leading clinician–led healthcare consulting and IT services group to a global technology and services company specialising in the healthcare field
    • the restructuring and relocation of a nutritional supplements business within the UK
    • settlement of a long running shareholders dispute concerning a company running a niche members’ gym in a close knit area of London
    • finalisation of the UK legal aspects to a cross border merger with an Italian company
    • the negotiation of departure terms for the CEO of a leading interdealer broker

    Andrew has over the years enjoyed advising many owner-managed SMEs on the range of their needs for commercial, employment and dispute related legal advice.  He is delighted that the firm has recently received recognition through the award by Acquisitions International of “UK Most Trusted Law Firm of the Year to SMEs 2013” because it goes to the depth of the relationships the firm has with its clients and its target market in terms of size of business clients.

    Andrew was educated at Nailsea School and holds degrees in law from Manchester and Leicester Universities.  He qualified as a solicitor in 1995. He is a co-author of a Practical Guide to Drone Law.

    Away from the office Andrew, married to a local GP and of occasional use to his three teenage children, runs and is heavily involved in his local church.

    020 7406 1000 - AndrewFirman@cartercamerons.com
    Partner - Corporate

    Katarzyna (Kate) Boguslawska is a Partner in our corporate and commercial department.

    Kate’s clients range from start-up owners through to SMEs and some global main-players who need advice on business-related matters. These range from advice on employment and company matters to contract drafting and disputes. Kate understands her clients, their needs and goals. Her clients often praise her pragmatic approach and tailored practical advice.

    Employment

    In her employment practice Kate:

    • drafts contracts, handbooks and company policies
    • provides regular Employment/HR Advice
    • negotiates contracts
    • drafts and negotiate settlement agreements
    • helps to navigate through TUPE, restructure and redundancies
    • advises and represents in claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, breach of contract, unlawful deduction from wages, etc
    • advises on injunctive relief and restrictive covenants

    Notable employment work included:

    • advising a well-known English designer in company restructure and redundancies;
    • advising employers and high net worth individuals on settlement agreements and severance packages;
    • regular HR advice to a number of company clients;
    • advising media company on contracts and issues relating to confidentiality, IP and restrictive covenants;
    • representing high earning claimants in ‘Stress at Work’ personal injury matters.

    Commercial

    In her commercial and company practice Kate:

    • advises on suitable business entities and company formation;
    • advises on company and directors’ duties;
    • drafts necessary company documents including amended articles and resolutions;
    • drafts and negotiates contracts and shareholders’ agreements;
    • advises on shareholders disputes.

    Notable commercial work included:

    • advising and representing foreign companies establishing business in the UK;
    • advising companies on matters involving directors’ duties and shareholders’ disputes;
    • advising a Polish PLC on contract matters and negotiating on its behalf with an English PLC;
    • representing an international cosmetics company in injunctive relief and restraint of trade matters;
    • representing hauliers in representations against Border Force and HMRC in excise duty matters;
    • advising EU nationals on immigration issues, residency and citizenship applications in the UK.

    More…

    Kate has strong links in the Polish community and is recommended by the Polish Embassy in London, having co-written a Guide for Polish Investors in the UK that was published by the Embassy. She has a broad network of international connections and has been instructed by law firms in Poland to assist their clients in matters involving English jurisdiction.

    020 7406 1000 - katarzynaboguslawska@cartercamerons.com

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