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Everything You Need To Know About Applying For A UK Entrepreneurs Visa

UK Entrepreneur Visa

Everything You Need To Know About Applying For A UK Entrepreneur Visa

The United Kingdom economy is tipped to become the biggest in Europe by 2030. With low interest rates, a well-educated workforce and an economy tipped to grow by 2.4 per cent this year, entrepreneurs from all over the globe see the UK as a great place to start up their business venture. This is shown by the figures released by the Home Office in mid 2014, showing the number of applications under the Entrepreneurs visa going from 118 in 2009, to a whopping 10,000 by 2013.

Due to this increase, reforms that came in play from 6th April 2015 meant that all applicants for an Entrepreneur Visa will be required to submit a business plan alongside their application. This is in addition to a ‘Genuine Entrepreneur Test’ that is conducted by the Home Office. Therefore, if you are looking to apply for an Entrepreneurs visa you should be aware of what it entails, and be sure to obtain legal advice.

What are the requirements of applying for an Entrepreneur Visa?

The fundamental requirement is that you must be outside the European Economic Area (which includes the European Union and Switzerland), and you want to operate or set up a business in the UK.

Permissible investments include starting up your own company or investing in an existing trading company. You cannot invest in property management, property development, property investment companies or offshore companies in order to qualify for application.

There are five main points for eligibility, in order to be eligible you must:

  1. Score 95 points in order to be successful

The headings below if satisfied, will determine how many points can be claimed. In addition, a Home Office caseworker will apply the ‘Genuine Entrepreneur’ test taking into account:

  • All evidence submitted.
  • Whether the source of money referred to is viable and credible.
  • Whether the business plan submitted is viable and credible.
  • The level of previous education and business experience.
  • Where the applicant is already a registered as self-employed, or as a director in the UK, the nature of the role and previous history.
  1. Meet the age restriction for application

Since 24 April 2015 this requirement increased from 16 to 18 years of age.

  1. Have access to Investment Funds

There are varied requirements for those who have access to investment funds depending on the level of funds. The main condition is that the funds must be held and disposable to the UK.

 £50,000

For those with access to £50,000, the acceptable funding sources will vary according to the type of visa. For all applications for a ‘leave to remain’ visa the funds must be held in the UK.

For Graduate Entrepreneur, Post-study worker, or general visa holders, in order to be eligible to apply, you must be switching your visa from a Graduate Entrepreneur, Post-study worker, or general visa, to an Entrepreneur Visa, asking for a ‘leave to remain.’ Your visa must be either current or have been the last but still current visa for the UK.

You will be eligible to apply for an Entrepreneur visa if you fall into one of the visa categories below:

  • Former Graduate Entrepreneur holders may apply if;
    • You have funding of £50,000 from any source. However, there are some eligibility restrictions for those under this visa applying with an approved funding source.
  • Post-study worker holders may apply if;
    • You are registered as self-employed, or as a director of a company three months prior to the application.
    • Your job is included in the list of occupations at the National Qualifications Framework level 4 and above.
    • In terms of funding source, either, you have been involved in the operations of one or more UK companies prior to 11 July 2014:
      • Having used your own funds; or
      • Having use funds from a firm regulated by the FCA.

Or, your funding of at least £50,000 is from

  • A UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment.
  • A UK government department is funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business.
  • General visa holders may apply if;
    • In terms of funding source, either, your funding of at least £50,000 is from
      • A UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment.
      • A UK government department is funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business.

Or, it is from a venture capital firm registered with the FCA, only if you can show that:

  • You have been involved in the operations of one or more UK companies prior to 6 April 2015.
  • Your job is included in the list of occupations at the National Qualifications Framework level 4 and above, prior to 6 April 2015.
  • Former student visa holders may apply if you are currently in the UK and;
    • You fall under one of the following categories:
      • A Tier 4 visa holder.
      • A student nurse.
      • Studying, writing up a thesis or re-sitting an exam.
      • A postgraduate doctor or dentist.
      • An overseas qualified nurse or midwife.
      • A student is sabbatical officer.
    • In terms of funding source, either your funding of at least £50,000 must be from:
      • A UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment.
      • A UK government department is funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business.
      • The two above are the only qualifying funding sources, and your funds cannot include, for example, your own money or money from any other third parties.

If you don’t fall under any of the visa categories, you are also eligible to apply if you have invested £50,000 in a UK business. This investment will qualify if it was made less than 12 months before the application date. An exception applies to Former Graduate Entrepreneur visas, under this visa you may rely on previous investments for up to 24 months before the application date.

£200,000

For applicants with access to £200,000, the requirements are less rigorous.

You are eligible to apply if you can prove that the funds are either:

  • Your own.
  • From a third party (for example a spouse or an investor).
  • Held in a joint account (only applicable if the spouse/partner is not also applying for an Entrepreneur visa).

You are also eligible to apply if you have invested £200,000 in a UK business. This investment will qualify if it was made less than 12 months before the application date.

You are, unfortunately, unable to apply under these requirements as a former Post-study worker, and must instead apply under the £50,000 criteria.

General worker visa holders may apply under the £200,000 assessment if the funds are your own and:

  • Your General worker visa must be either current or have been the last visa for the UK
  • You have been involved in the operations of one or more UK companies prior to 6 April 2015
  • Your job is included in the list of occupations at the National Qualifications Framework level 4 and above, prior to 6 April 2015
  1. Meet the English language test

 There is an automatic exception to this requirement if you are a national citizen of one of the countries listed in the policy guidance.

For those countries not included in the list, you may be required to prove your knowledge of English. Some of the ways you can demonstrate your knowledge are:

  • Through an approved English language test with a minimum CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • By providing an academic qualification that is officially recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, masters or PhD.
  1. Meet maintenance funds requirements

In order to make an application, you must also provide documents to prove that you will be able to support yourself while in the UK. Any part of the investment fund cannot go towards this requirement. If you are making an application from outside the UK, you will need to prove that you have at least £3,310.00. If applying within the UK, you will need to show that you have at least £945.00. These funds must have been present in your bank account for a minimum of 90 consecutive days before the application.

If I qualify for application, how do I make the application?

Applications outside the UK are not as challenging as you might think. You can apply online with the primary requirement being that you will need your fingerprint and photos taken at a visa application centre. If making applications outside the UK, you will simultaneously apply for a biometric residence permit to allow you to enter the country.

If you are applying from within the UK, it will be a matter switching to or extending your current Entrepreneurs visa.

UK Entrepreneur VisaWhat about my family?

Your family are eligible to come over to the UK on an Entrepreneurs Visa should you be granted one. However the family members in question must be considered as ‘dependents,’ which includes your partner, your child under 18, and/or you child over 18 if they are currently in the UK under a dependent status.

Each dependent must go through the same application process as you and burden any costs associated.

The catch is that you must be able to prove your ability to support your family in the UK. Alongside the maintenance fund requirements stated above, each dependent – if applying outside the UK or in the UK for less than 12 months – will require proof of a further £1,890. Dependents that have been in the UK for over 12 months require £630 each. Like the maintenance requirement, the funds must have been in your bank account for a minimum of 90 consecutive days before application.

I have been granted an Entrepreneurs visa – what now?

Once you have been issued with your visa, an investment must be made within six months from the date of entry or date the visa was issued.

Those applying for the first time will be granted a visa valid for three years and four months. At the end of its term, you are entitled to apply for an extension for a further two years, which will fulfil your five year prerequisite to apply get residence in the UK, and thus an ILR.

You will also be eligible to apply for accelerated settlement at the end of the initial term provided that the business has created 10 full-time positions for resident workers for a minimum of 12 months, and it has generated a turnover of a minimum of £5 million over a three year period

If you do not qualify for the accelerated settlement, you will need to apply for an extension in order to fulfil your five years residence. The application for extension follows a similar point based system and will require evidence about your business.

It is helpful to receive legal advice before deciding to proceed with an application, as there have been many changes to the rules. Some visa routes have been closed and, therefore, the route to an Entrepreneurs visa may only be open if you are an existing visa holder.

As there are many fine details that need to be hashed out in order to determine whether you are eligible for application, receiving expert advice will reduce any risk of misunderstandings about the current rules and save you time and money in the long run.

This is reinforced by the 2015 case of Lqbal & Dependants v Secretary of State for the Home Department, which shows the importance of ensuring Entrepreneur applications meet all technical requirements before making an application. This is because the Court in this case interpreted the immigration rules very strictly, telling all applicants of how difficult it is to challenge a mistake in an application once it has been denied.

So be sure that if you are making an application, to do it right the first time round!

If you require more information regarding an Entrepreneur Visa please phone our office on 020 3588 3500 to make an appointment or click here for further information.

If you have any comments to make about obtaining an Entrepreneur Visa please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section below.



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