Tier 1 visa applications can be made in the following circumstances.  Please note that since 29 March 2019 the Tier 1 entrepreneur visa scheme has been replaced by the UK Innovator visa scheme and since 6 July 2019 the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme has been replaced by the Start-Up visa scheme. A tier 1 investor can gain entry based on investment funds of £2 million to invest.  In addition, a small number of people can come under the Tier 1 exceptional talent visa category.  

Tier 1 Visa categories

  • Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa has now been replaced by the UK Innovator visa scheme, for people with access to at least £50,000 to invest in the UK to set up a UK business. 
  • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa For people endorsed by a designated body as a leader or emerging leader in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology, fashion or the arts. Limited to 2000 places a year.
  • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa You can no longer apply under this visa category for new applicants since 6 July 2019.  You now need to come under the Start-Up visa category.
  • Tier 1 Investor visa For people who have at least £2,000,000 available to invest in active and trading UK registered companies.

Family members (dependants)

You should be able to bring your partner or children with you during your stay, but you must show that you have sufficient funds to provide for them. They will be able to apply under a family visa, please see our UK Family Visas page for more details.


Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

This category allows a limited number of people who are considered to be leaders or emerging leaders in a small number of fields to enter the UK. You will need to come under Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa or Tier 1 Exceptional Promise criteria.  A big benefit of this category compared to the Tier 2 visa and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence scheme is that you can work freely for almost any employer or run your own business or be self employed.  Before applying for this visa applicants must first ask for endorsement by a recognised designated competent body via a UK Home Office application in one of the following fields:

  • Science 
  • Humanities 
  • Engineering 
  • Medicine 
  • Digital technology 
  • The Arts
  • Fashion
  • Architecture
  • Film and Television

The Exceptional Talent visa is subject to an annual limit of 2000 places set by the UK Home Office.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Application via Home Office to Recognised Designated Competent Body

In the first stage you need to apply to one of the recognised Designated Competent Bodies to apply for the tier 1 exceptional talent visa:

  • Arts Council England – for arts, culture, fashion, film and television applications;
  • The British Academy – for humanities and social science applications;
  • The Royal Society – for natural sciences and medical science research applications;
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering – for engineering applications;
  • Tech Nation – for digital technology applications.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Documents for second stage

Once you have the endorsement you need to apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa and must provide certain documents with your application.  Some people based in the UK can switch to this UK visa category.

  • Current passport and/or other travel documents 
  • A separate passport photograph (depending on the circumstances). 
  • A letter of endorsement from the designated competent body 
  • A clear tuberculosis (TB) test result letter, if the applicant is from one of the countries on the Home Office’s TB testing list

Length of Stay and indefinite leave to remain

The length of stay for this visa depends on whether the applicant is already in the UK. Those applying from outside of the UK can stay for 5 years and 4 months. Those switching to this visa from inside the UK can stay for up to 5 years. 

Those with have been granted a tier 1 exceptional talent visa can usually apply based on three years stay in the UK.  Actually applications can be made twenty-eight days before the end of the three year period.  For those on a tier 1 exceptional promise visa you have to wait five years (minus twenty-eight days) before you can apply for indefinite leave to remain.

Time spent in the UK as a tier 2 general visa holder or on a tier 1 entrepreneur visa should count towards the period required for indefinite leave to remain.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa Holders have freedom to work in almost any sector

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa holders can live and work in the UK with few restrictions:

  • You can work as an employee for any employer, be self employed and run your own business.
  • You can work in almost any area.  However, for an extension or indefinite leave to remain you will need to show that you have worked in your specialist area at least some of the time.
  • You cannot work as a Doctor or Dentist in Training or as a professional sportsperson/sports coach. 

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur

Notice: Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa closed to New Applicants from 6 July, 2019

Following a statement of changes to UK immigration rules issued on 7 March 2019, the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa programme closed to new applicants on 6 July, 2019. This has been replaced by the new UK Start Up visa.  We have analysed the situation in one of our news reports covering visa options for business people.   In some cases, it may be worth considering the Tier 2 visa scheme and Tier 2 Sponsor Licence scheme.

Important Information

  • Only entry clearance applications made by people who have held Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur leave in the past 12 months will be accepted.
  • Applications for leave to remain will only be accepted from applicants who have previously been granted Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur leave in the past 12 months.
  • Applications to switch from a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa will be open until 5 July, 2021.

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa will be replaced by the UK Start-up Visa.

Alternatively, you could be eligible for other UK visas.

This category allows international graduates with a viable business plan to come to the UK to set up a business. Applicants for this visa must have been endorsed by a UK higher education institution or by the UK government’s UK Trade and Investment department.

The Graduate Entrepreneur visa is subject to an annual limit set by the UK Home Office, which is set at a different level every year. In 2015 the limit is 1,900 visas.

Points

Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa applicants must score 95 points for their visa to be granted. The following table gives a detailed breakdown of how points are awarded for this visa.

Tier 1 graduate Entrepreneur points table

ConditionPoints
Having a letter of endorsement from:A UK higher education institution OR;From the UK government’s UK Trade and Investment departmentWhich confirms the following:That you have a viable business planWhat sector your businesses will be in (this must not be the management or development of property)That you intend to spend the majority of your working hours on your business50
Having one of the following qualifications, which must be recognised in the UK:A Bachelor’s degreeA Master’s degreeA PhD25
Having access to the required maintenance funds10
Meeting the required level of English language proficiency10

Tier 1 Investor Visa

Tier 1 Investor visa is possible if you have at least two million pounds (£2,000,000) in funds available to invest in active and trading UK businesses. The funds must be held by a regulated institution, such as a bank or venture capital firm, and must be free to spend – not tied up in securities, shares, or similar arrangements.

From 29 March 2019 the requirements for the active and trading UK business are as follows:

  • Is registered with Companies House in the UK.
  • Is registered with HM Revenue and Customs for corporation tax and PAYE.
  • Has accounts and a UK bank account with both showing regular trading of its own goods or services.
  • Has at least 2 UK based employees who are not its directors.

Tier 1 Investor Points

Tier 1 Investor applicants must score 75 points for their visa to be granted. The following table gives a detailed breakdown of how points are awarded for this visa. Tier 1 Investor applicants do not need to provide proof of their English language proficiency or their access to maintenance funds.

Tier 1 Investor points table

ConditionPoints
Having at least £2,000,000 of your own money to invest in the UK, and:Evidence of how much money you haveEvidence of where the money is heldProof that you’ve had the money for longer than 3 months OR;Proof of how you obtained the moneyProof that the money is available to spend in the UK75
Having at least £2,000,000 of your partner’s money, and:Proof that you are married or in a civil partnership OR;Proof that you have been in a relationship for more than 2 yearsA statement of your partner’s permission for you to invest the money in the UK AND;A statement from a solicitor that your partner’s statement of permission is legally valid and not falsified75

Length of stay

You are granted entry for a period of up to three years and four months. Depending on the investment level you can gain indefinite leave to remain in the UK after spending between two and five years (minus 28 days) in the UK.

You can gain indefinite leave to remain after meeting the following residence requirements:

There are accelerated routes to indefinite leave to remain if you have invested more than £2 million pounds.

  • £2 million investment – Towards the end of 5 years stay in the UK
  • Investment of £ 5 million – Towards the end of 3 years stay in the UK
  • Investment of £ 10 million –  Towards the end of 2 years stay in the UK

Documents

Tier 1 Investor applicants must provide several documents with their application, these include:

  • Current passport and/or other travel documents 
  • A separate passport photograph 
  • A clear tuberculosis (TB) test result letter, if the applicant is from one of the countries on the Home Office’s TB testing list, found here (link) 
  • A criminal record certificate from any country they have lived in for more than one year in the past ten years 
  • The evidence outlined in the Tier 1 Investor points table above

Other activities and restrictions

Tier 1 investor visa holders can work and study in the UK alongside investing in active UK businesses, and can apply to settle (gaining legal permanent residence in the UK) after a set period of time which depends on how much they have invested in the UK. Those who invest £5,000,000 or more can apply to settle after 3 years, while those who invest £10,000,000 or more may apply after 2 years.

Investors on this visa cannot invest in any company whose main business activities involve managing, developing, or investing in property

  • UK Visa Tier Points-Based Immigration System
    • Tier 1 Visa
      • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
      • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
      • Tier 1 Investor Visa
    • Tier 2 Visa for Skilled Workers
      • Tier 2 General Visa
      • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
      • Tier 2 Visa Points System
      • UK Visa Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship
      • Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Application – How to apply
      • UK Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List
      • Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
      • Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
      • Tier 2 Visa Resident Labour Market Test
      • Tier 2 visa switching from another visa scheme
      • Tier 2 Visa Government fees from 29 March 2019
    • Tier 3 Visa – Never Implemented and discontinued
    • Tier 4 Student Visas
      • Tier 4 Visa for International Students
    • Tier 5 Visa for Temporary Workers
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Charity Worker) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Religious Worker) visa
      • Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa
    • Who needs a UK Tier 2 Work Visa or other visa?
  • Non Tier UK Business visas
    • UK Innovator Visa
    • UK Start Up Visa
    • UK Sole Representative of an overseas business visa
    • UK Turkish Businessperson visa
  • UK Visitor Visas
    • UK Standard Visitor visa
    • UK Permitted Paid Engagement visa
    • Who needs a UK visitor visa?
  • UK Family Visas
    • UK Family of a settled person visa
      • UK Marriage visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) tips
      • UK Fiancé visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) tips
    • EEA Family Permit and UK Residence Card
    • UK Parent of a Tier 4 child visa
    • British Ancestry visa
    • UK Entry Clearance Guide
    • EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals Working in the UK
  • UK Permanent Residence and UK Citizenship
    • UK Permanent Residence/Indefinite Leave to Remain
    • UK Citizenship and Naturalisation – How to apply
      • Children Born Outside The UK
        • The British Nationality Act 1981
        • British Citizenship By Descent Or Otherwise
        • Children born outside the UK/qualifying territory
        • UK Children of parents in Crown and similar services
        • Children who will not be British citizens
        • List of Crown and services
      • Right of Abode (UK)
    • Long Residence in UK