Investors, Entrepreneurs 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
Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category is for non-EEA nationals who intend to establish, join or take over a business in the UK. The key requirements to qualify for the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa are:
- Have at least £200,000 of own or third party funds available for investment (£50,000 when the funds are from government department, FCA registered ventured capital firm or from Home Office approved seed funding competition).
- Have a viable business plan.
- Have £3,310 maintenance funds (plus £1,890 for each dependant) in addition to the investment funds.
- English language knowledge CEFR B1 or above (in each of the 4 components: reading, writing, speaking and listening).
- Provide criminal record certificates from any country that applicant (equally applicable to adult dependant) resided for at least 12 months during the 10 years before application.
- Meet the genuine entrepreneur test (this is an assessment of viability and credibility of the applicant’s business plan by way of an interview).
The initial Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is granted for 3 years and 4 months (3 years when switching from inside the UK) and it can be extended for a further 2 years. After 5 years in the UK the Tier 1 Entrepreneur can apply for settlement and then for UK citizenship. Those Tier 1 Entrepreneurs who create 10 full time jobs or have a business turnover of £5 million can apply for an accelerated settlement after 3 years in the UK. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route is due to be closed in the spring of 2019 and replaced by a new Innovator visa. The details of the requirements for the new Innovator visa have not yet been published by the UK Home Office.
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
You can apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa if you are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea. The endorsement must come from a UK higher education institution (HEI) listed as authorised endorsing body for this visa type OR from the Department of International Trade (DIT) as part of the elite global graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirious). The initial visa is granted for up to 1 year and it can be extended for a further year. Graduate Entrepreneur visa does not lead to settlement in the UK. To continue their business in the UK, the Graduate Entrepreneurs usually switch to Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa prior to their Graduate Entrepreneur visa expiry. The Graduate Entrepreneur route is due to be replaced by a new start up visa in the spring of 2019. The details of the requirements for the new start up visa have not yet been published by the UK Home Office.