The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa category is for foreign national business persons who would like to come to the UK establish a business here or join and invest into an existing business.

Under this category the main applicant’s immediate family members (‘dependents’) can join them in the UK. This includes the main applicant’s partner and children under the age of 18. The applicant’s children will be eligible to participate in the UK’s education system. In addition, this visa category also provides holders with a pathway to permanent residency and subsequently British citizenship.

Eligibility requirements

To submit a successful application an applicant must score a total of 95 points based on the funds that are available to them for investment (75 points), their English language ability (10 points), and their ability to satisfy the UK maintenance requirements (10 points). Applicants must also be at least 16 years of age.

To achieve the funds requirements applicants need to have access to either:

  • At least £200,000, with all funds to be disposable (free to spend) and held in a regulated financial institution; or
  • At least £50,000 available from one of the following sources:
    • 1 or more registered venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Services authority; or
    • 1 or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions listed as endorsed on the UK Trade and Investment website, or
    • 1 or more UK government departments, which have made the funds available for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a UK business.

It's important to understand that holders of a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa may not seek or undertake paid employment in the UK other than working for the business or businesses that they have established, joined or taken over.

Entrepreneur visa duration

Entrepreneur visas are initially granted for a period of three years and four months. This visa can be extended for an additional two years provided specific requirements are met. See the section below regarding Entrepreneur visa extensions for more information.

Entrepreneur visa extension

You may extend your visa for an additional two years providing the following conditions are met:

  • You have invested £200,000 in the company; and
  • The company has been registered within 6 months of the date you were granted permission to stay in the UK under the Entrepreneur category; and
  • You have created at least 2 full-time positions for settled workers. For a new business this means that an aggregate of two positions, full time or equivalent, must have been created with each lasting for at least one year. In cases where an applicant has taken over control of an established UK business, their investment and presence in the company must have created two positions similar to those outlined above.

You should include any dependents who are on your current visa on your application to extend - including children who have turned 18 during your stay.

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Once you have been in the UK for 5 years as an Entrepreneur visa holder you will be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK, also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

To qualify for ILR you must:

  • Have lawfully resided in the UK on this visa for 5 years. Note that in order to qualify you can have no more than 180 days absence from the UK in each of these years.
  • Be able to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK.

Alternatively, ILR status can be achieved after 3 years if the following criteria are met:

  • You have invested £200,000 in the company; and
  • The company has been registered within 6 months of the date you were granted permission to stay in the UK under the Entrepreneur category; and
  • You have created at least 10 full-time positions for settled workers. For a new business this means that an aggregate of two positions, full time or equivalent, must have been created with each lasting for at least one year. In cases where an applicant has taken over control of an established UK business, their investment and presence in the company must have created 10 positions similar to those outlined above; or
  • Established a new business with income activity of at least £5m during the 3 year period.

British Citizenship

Once you have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain you then have a pathway towards qualifying for British citizenship.

Typically, Entrepreneur visa holders are eligible to apply for British citizenship after having spent 6 years in the UK, however there are faster routes available for those responsible for creating businesses with a high turnover or a high number of jobs.

Switching into the Entrepreneur visa category

You can apply to switch to the Entrepreneur visa if you are already in the UK under one of the following categories and you satisfy the necessary eligibility requirements:

  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 1 (Investor)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur)
  • Business person
  • Innovator
  • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
  • Work permit holder
  • Self-employed lawyer
  • Writer, composer or artist
  • Investor
  • International Graduate Scheme (or its predecessor, the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme)
  • Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme
  • Tier 2
  • Prospective entrepreneur
  • A visitor who has been carrying out permitted activities as a prospective entrepreneur

You can also switch from one of the following categories if you have specific types of funding:

  • Tier 1 (General)
  • Tier 1 (Post-study work)
  • Tier 4
  • Student
  • Student re-sitting an examination
  • Student nurse
  • Student writing up a thesis
  • Postgraduate doctor or dentist

Please note that if you are a holder of another UK visa not listed above you will need to leave the UK and make your Entrepreneur visa application from abroad.