In this article, we will provide a detailed summary of the eligibility criteria of the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur residence requirements leading to Permanent Residence in the UK and British citizenship
Applicants and interested readers can see below the entry clearance requirements and main eligibility criteria that applicants should meet in order to qualify for the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa and the additional requirements in order to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and obtain British citizenship:
Access to Disposable Funds of £200,000 plus Maintenance
This requirement means that applicants will have to show that they has access to cash funds of a minimum amount of £200,000 (or equivalent) which have been held for a minimum continuous period of 90 days in a regulated bank either in the UK or abroad.
If the funds are held outside the UK, the funds must be disposable and transferable to the UK in order to be made available for investment into a new start-up business or to be invested into an already-existing business.
The funds can be from more than one person/source. The current UK Immigration Rules generously allow for a further business partner to join the main applicant by forming an Entrepreneurial Team relying on the same amount of funds (£200,000); however in this instance the funds must be held jointly for at least 90 days. The team member could be a business partner, a family member or a relative.
Main applicants will need also to show that they have additional cash separate savings in their own personal accounts preferably in an account separate to where the investment funds are held prior to making the application for a minimum period of three months. Currently the maintenance amount is set at £3,310 and this sum increases depending on the number of the dependants accompanying the main applicant.
Adequate Command of the English Language
Main applicants must demonstrate that they have good command of the English language to a level which is at B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference.
This can be demonstrated by providing an IELTS score of 4.0 (4 out of 9) in all the four language skills (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking). The IELTS test is available at the British Councils and its approved test centres around the world.
There are other more accessible English language tests such as Trinity ISE, Pearson PTE and TOEFL which can be taken only at an approved test centre.
Applicants must ensure that the English test is taken at an approved test centre in line with the amended immigration rules published on 5/11/2015.
The main applicants who completed a UK degree at a bachelor level or above are not required to provide any further evidence of their English language skills.
Alternatively, if the main applicant has a bachelor degree or higher that is considered to be taught in English from any university outside the UK, there will be no need to take a formal English test if you can provide a formal assessment from the National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) in the UK confirming the academic level of the degree and the English language substance level of that degree.
Genuine Intention to Setup or Join a UK Business
The main applicants in most cases should be able to demonstrate clearly that they have some sort of relevant business background, experience and/or academic qualifications and that they have carried out the necessary market research and studies and that they must have realistic business plans for their intended business and be able to defend and explain the business plan in an interview when requested with an Entry Clearance Officer at the British Visa Section.
Professional Business Analysts, Accountants, Business Consultants in the UK are able to draft comprehensive business plans on behalf of applicants. However, applicants themselves must first be sure of their business idea or the venture they intend to setup and carry out in the UK and send a brief summary for the business analyst to start their drafting and market research. It should be noted that the business idea belongs to the main applicants and they should be able to defend it and explain it regardless of who wrote it.
Applicants who are going to join an existing UK business, will be expected also to provide an outline of their business proposals, memorandums of understandings, business agreements, and any relevant share distribution or loans provision details together with detailed business plans on how the fresh investment into the existing business will be allocated.
Applicants will also be expected to explain when asked that that the funds of £200,000 are viable, credible and readily accessible to them until the funds have been invested into the proposed UK business.
It should be noted that in most cases, the Entry Clearance Offices at the British Visa Sections would conduct a telephone/video interview with the main applicants in order to establish that they have genuine intention to invest and run a business in the UK and that they would be capable of meeting the requirements of this route.
While well-prepared applicants with strong business backgrounds, who have had their applications prepared by duly qualified and experienced immigration lawyers covering all aspects of the immigration rules, are unlikely to be requested to sit for an interview, it remains at the discretion of the Entry Clearance Officers to decide who will be interviewed and who will be granted on paper.
Once the above initial entry requirements have been met and the Entry Clearance Officer is satisfied that the main applicants are indeed having genuine entrepreneurial intentions, the main applicants will be granted initial period of leave to enter and remain in the UK for three years and four months.
It should be noted that in line with the new rules, the initial Entry Clearance visa will only be granted for a temporary 30-day period to enable applicants and their dependants to travel to the UK, where they will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) valid for three years and four months from a designated Post Office upon arrival.
On completion of the initial period of leave, there would be another application for a further two-year extension that should be made provided applicants continue to meet the Immigration Rules under this category.
Dependant spouse and children under the age of 18 will be able to apply with the main applicants and can be granted the same period of leave in line with the main applicants.
Journey of Rules:
There are fixed and specific rules and conditions that applicants must satisfy in order to swiftly get the two-year extension and eventually obtain their Indefinite Leave to Remain in the under this route.
For example, the main applicant would be required to register their details with the Police in the UK including their passport, leave to enter/remain, residential addresses within 7 days of arrival in the UK.
Applicants would be entitled and expected to register with a local GP (doctor), apply for UK National Insurance Number, open bank accounts and carry out the necessary relocation arrangements including housing and schooling for children.
Setting-up into Business:
Applicants must register with the UK tax authorities in the UK within 6 months, either from entering the UK or from obtaining their visas. The main applicants will have the choice to determine which date would be their Specified Date (entry or grant). However the choice must determined after obtaining competent legal advice as this must fall well in line with the residence requirement.
Registration can be in the form of registering a new company or registering with the Tax Authorities as a Self-Employed Sole Trader.
Transfer and Investment of Funds:
The investment funds will need to be transferred into the business from the main applicants themselves through clearly shown and readily identifiable transactions and eventually be invested into the business during the first three years in order to qualify for the two-year extension. There are instances where funds can be from a third party.
The investment is meant to benefit the UK economy and to create new employment in the UK for settled workers and the business must be subject to UK taxation.
The general idea is to start a new business or join an existing business to boost the UK economy.
If the main applicants are setting-up a new business, the newly established business would be expected to employ two new separate settled workers for a minimum period of 12 months each in a specified job for at least 130 hours per month.
If the main applicants are joining an existing business, then the net creation of employment must be at least two new separate jobs for two separate settled workers, discounting any existing employment in the business that the main applicants joined.
Applicants may qualify for an accelerated route to settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain) if they create ten separate jobs for ten separate settled workers for at least 12 months each within the initial three-year period of leave.
During the five-year period, or the three-year period if applying under the accelerated route, the main applicants and their dependants are expected to spend at least six months of residence in the UK in each single year to be able to apply swiftly for Permanent Residence in the UK.
The accelerated route is open only to the main applicants and not to their dependants as explained above. The new immigration rules published on 6 April 2016, make the accelerated route almost impossible to meet, especially for small businesses.
In most cases, we advise applicants to stay under the standard five-year settlement route unless if they are going to setup a large business.
The accelerated route is only available to the main applicants and not to their dependants. The dependants must complete five qualifying years of residence in the UK to qualify for settlement.
Once applicants have completed their initial three years of residence and satisfied the requirements of the route there will be another application to extend their leave to remain in the UK for a further two-year period in order to qualify for Permanent Residence at the end of the five-year qualifying period.
Please note that the above summary and explanation is for information purposes only and subject to change in line with the constantly changing immigration rules and policies. This summary does not in any way constitute legal advice as every application is unique in every way.
If you genuinely believe that you would be able to meet the above requirements, you are welcome to contact us to discuss your individual and own particular circumstances in greater detail and we will see how we can assist further.
GOOD ADVICE UK is a regulated law firm based in London specialising only in immigration law with an experienced team of immigration lawyers and advisers. The firm has an recent solid proven experience exceeding 10 recent years.
Article by Atef Elmarakby - Immigration Law Specialist Consultant at GOOD ADVICE UK