With the UK heavily entrenched as one of the world’s most prosperous business hubs, there is naturally a lot of overseas interest from foreign business professionals look to set up an enterprise on British soil. For foreign nationals who are looking to come to the UK to start a new business, visa rules differ slightly from the norm, with a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa being the best route in.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visas come with a selection of specific requirements, and strict conditions for renewal. Below, you’ll find a quick run through on everything you need to know about getting one.

What is a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa?

Entrepreneur visas are for foreign national business people who wish to come to the UK and start a new business or invest funds into an existing one. Immediate family members of the visa holder are permitted to join them in the UK for the duration of the visa, including the permit holder’s partner and any children under the age of 18.

Entrepreneur visas are also a pathway to permanent residency (Indefinite Leave to Remain) and British citizenship.

How do you qualify?

Entrepreneur visa holders cannot seek work or take on paid employment in the UK beyond that of working for the business they have set up, joined or taken over. To qualify for an entrepreneur visa, you must be able to offer the following:

  • Investment or cash funds of £50,000-£200,000
  • Creation of at least two full-time job positions which have existed for at least 12 months
  • Evidence that you can continue to support yourself and your organisation
  • Be registered as the director of your company, a partnership member or self-employed within 6 months of receiving your visa
  • Evidence of at least three months of work in your position prior to applying

Visa extensions and settling in the UK

If you’ve lived in the UK for five years or more based on your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), otherwise known as permanent residency, and acquire British citizenship.

Your initial entrepreneur visa lasts for three years and four months. This can be extended for a further two years as long as specific requirements are met. To acquire an extension, applicants must take the Genuine Entrepreneur Test. The test offers strict conditions of approval, and applicants must show evidence that:

  • They have established or taken over a genuine and successful business in the UK
  • They have invested capital into one or more businesses in the UK
  • They intend to continue operating as the owner or director of their company
  • They don’t intend to take on any other employment.

The test will examine sources and documents you provide as to their credibility, as well as your immigration history and background and your business plan. It’s a technically challenging process that applicants must be prepared for.

If you are applying for an entrepreneur visa and are struggling with some of the technical legal complexities involved, you can seek guidance from specialist immigration lawyers in London, who can offer the support where necessary to see you through your application or any subsequent issues.

For more information on the visa itself, you can visit the Immigration Advice Service to get a full run through of the process attached.