UK Tier 1 Visa for Foreign Investors & Entrepreneurs

The UK Tier 1 visa route permits qualifying individuals from outside the EEA to come to the UK to start-up a business or invest in the UK.

Many countries offer so-called ‘golden visas’ to attract wealthy
individuals and their investments through fast-tracked entry clearance and settlement.

The UK has never necessarily competed directly with the Golden
visa approach taken by the likes of Portugal and Malta, instead relying on its
underlying appeal as a stable economy relative to European countries, and as a
world-class desirable destination and for settlement for high net worth
individuals.

 

Aimed at this cohort, the UK
‘Tier 1’ visa route offers entry clearance to individuals outside the EEA wishing to
start-up a business or invest in the UK.

The Tier 1
route offers many advantages to holders that are not available to many other
visa categories – such as the ability to bring dependants with the primary visa
holder and the potential to apply for settlement in time. To access the benefits of the Tier 1 route however, applicants must first meet strict Home Office eligibility criteria.

In
summary, the two
primary Tier 1 visas for foreign investors and entrepreneurs are:

Tier
1 Entrepreneur visa

Under a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, successful applicants can set up or take over
the running of one business or more in the UK as a self-employed individual,
provided the work meets the criteria for being self-employed.

To be eligible for a Tier 1
entrepreneur visa, applicants have to be from outside the EEA and Switzerland,
and be able to show they have access to at least £200,000 investment funds.

 

They must also submit a credible business plan that demonstrates the viability
of the business, and that the applicant has the requisite skills, qualifications
and experience to make a success of their business in the UK.

 

Applicants should also expect to
be invited to interview, where they will be questioned on their application and
business plan.

 

An initial Tier 1
Entrepreneur visa lasts for 3 years and 4 months. Holders may apply for a tier
1 Entrepreneur visa extension
to prolong their stay in the UK for a further 2 years
under Tier 1.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa extension
process can be more daunting and intensive than the original visa application. The
demands can be exacerbated if, as a result of poor advice as part of your
initial Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa application, your supporting documentation has
not been kept up to date.

 

There is also the possibility that you may again be
invited to interview by the Home Office, to discuss in detail your application,
your business and your activity during your stay to date.

 

Tier 1 Investor visa

A Tier 1 Investor visa requires
investments of £2,000,000 or more in the UK. Successful applicants are
permitted to invest in government bonds, share capital or loan capital in
active and trading UK registered companies. Investor visa holders can also
work, study or engage in business activities in the UK.

 

To apply
for a Tier 1 Investor visa, applicants must be from outside the EEA and
Switzerland, and show they have at least £2 million available to
invest in specified UK investments. The investment funds must
either belong to the applicant, their spouse or civil partner and they must be
held in one or more regulated financial institutions and be available to be
transferred to and invested in the UK.

 

 

An
initial Tier 1 Investor visa lasts for a total of 3 years and 4 months.
Holders of the Tier 1 Investor visa may apply for a tier 1
investor visa extension
to prolong their stay in the UK for a further 2
years under Tier 1. Subsequent settlement options in the UK, including fast-tracked indefinite leave to remain, may also become available.

You are required to collate and submit extensive
documentation to evidence your investment activity during the course of your
stay in the UK.

Problems may arise with your extension application
where you or your professional advisers have not kept sufficient or adequate
records of your investment and related activity covering the period of your
Tier 1 visa. In which case, seek advice on how you can most effectively
approach the extension process.

UK immigration
options

The application and extension processes are complex. Legal advice is important to ensure you meet all the relevant Home Office requirements.

If you or one of your clients from outside the EEA has a business idea or
are looking to invest in an existing UK business, please contact us to discuss
the full eligibility criteria and the options available to secure a Tier 1
business visa.

 

DavidsonMorris is a firm of specialist immigration solicitors advising on all aspects of business immigration, including sponsorship licences, civil penalties, Tier 1 Entrepreneurs and Tier 1 Investors.

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