The UK Government has announced changes to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) categories to encourage more applications for these visas. The main changes, which will come into force 6th April 2011, include fast-tracked routes to settlement, a new investment threshold for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and the introduction of a visitor visa for prospective entrepreneurs.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa:

The current investment threshold for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) is £200,000.  There will now be a lower investment threshold of £50,000 if that funding has been provided by one or more of the following:

  • Registered venture capitalists regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA);
  • Registered UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions; and/or
  • UK Government Departments.

Changes have also been made to enable pairs of entrepreneurs to access this category. This will allow business partners to enter the UK without need for additional funding. In this situation it will be necessary to prove that each business partner has equal access to the required funds.

In addition to the above changes, a new prospective entrepreneur visitor visa will be introduced. This visa will allow individuals to enter the UK to obtain funding. Once in the UK with such a visa, prospective entrepreneurs may switch to Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) without needing to leave the UK.

The entry clearance period for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is being increased from 3 years to 3 years and 4 months in order to reduce the need to apply for additional extensions.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa (settlement):

The residential qualifying period for Indefinite Leave to remain for Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa holders will be reduced to three years if the entrepreneur has created at least ten jobs for resident workers or turned over £5 million in a three year period. The current 5 year qualifying residence period will also remain for individuals who do not meet the requirements for fast-tracked settlement. The permitted limit of days of absence from the UK will be increased to 180 days in any 12 months.

Tier 1 (Investor)

As with the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) scheme, the entry clearance period in this category is being increased from 3 years to 3 years and 4 months in order to reduce the need to apply for additional extensions.

Tier 1 (Investor) visa (settlement):

The residential qualifying period for Indefinite Leave to remain for Tier 1 (Investor) visa holders will be reduced to two years if the investor has invested a sum of £10 million or more for two years, or three years if they have invested a sum of £5 million or more for three years. The current 5 year qualifying residence period will also remain for individuals who do not meet the requirements for fast-tracked settlement. As above, the permitted limit of days of absence from the UK will be increased to 180 days in any 12 months.