Introduction to the UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

The Tier 1 entrepreneur visa is the most common type of visa for individuals hoping to come to the UK to set up their own business. Between just April and June 2016, 198 new Tier 1 Entrepreneur visas were granted worldwide, with entrepreneurs gaining entrance to the UK from far and wide, from China to the USA via Australia and Pakistan.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa requires an entrepreneur have access to a minimum of £200,000 in funding, fully available to be invested in the UK. A smaller investment requirement of £50,000 is available to graduate entrepreneurs who’ve been based in the UK for 2 years and wish to extend their stay in the country. Applications must be made through their university, and within 12 months of the graduate completing their studies.


There are, of course, a number of documents which must be sent in support of your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa application. Some of the more standard administrative requirements include current and previous passports, visa-approved passport photographs and criminal record certificates from your recent country of residence, lived for a minimum of one year in the past 10.

More generally, supporting evidence will be required to demonstrate that you have the £200,000 or £50,000 required for your application, as well as evidence that you possess the relevant finance to support your dependents (if applicable) and yourself. £945 is the minimum requirement for supporting yourself, while £1890 is the minimum requirement for each of your dependents who have been in the UK for less than 12 months, and £630 the requirement for those who’ve been in the UK for 12 months or more. These funds must be held in a regulated financial institution for a minimum of 90 days before you apply.

Candidates must also provide evidence of minimum English language requirements, such as passing an approved test or demonstrating completion of an academic qualification that was taught in English and recognised as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s or master’s degree, or PhD.

Further, under the conditions for the Tier 1 Entreprenuer Visa, candidates are not allowed to seek employment beyond being employed and paid by their own company.

Genuine Entrepreneur Test:

Since January 2013, the UK government has made the Genuine Entrepreneur Test a further requirement of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa application process. The purpose of this is to speak with the applicant and understand their purpose for coming to the UK and ascertain the credibility of the applicant and the viability of your idea. As well as the necessary documentation, you’ll need to be comfortable explaining your ideas and your motives for enacting them in the UK – the government place a strict emphasis on applicants coming to the UK who have genuine interest in making their investments here. This is partly to ward off those with ulterior motives for investing large sums of cash, as well as ensuring the UK benefits from the very best future entrepreneurs.

Once your application has been approved, you will be granted an initial stay of up to 3 years and 4 months, which can rise to 6 years and 4 months with potential extensions. These time frames will also apply to your dependents, though if any of you switch between visa types, these may be subject to change.

In these instances, and with the rigorous application process more generally, an immigration specialist can help ensure you proceed with your application in the most effective manner. It would be wise to seek assistance before submitting your application, to ensure you tick all the necessary boxes.