Something London should be proud of: our unfaltering ability to attract record levels of lucrative business from overseas. As reported last week, for a few years now, it is no doubt that London is one of the best international trading cities in the world, far ahead of countries such as France, UAE and Singapore.
As a result of foreign investment and foreign entrepreneurs entering the United Kingdom, 11,300 London jobs have been generated this year. So, there’s no argument foreign investment, particularly in the start-up technology sector is a key driver of jobs and surely the UK government want to increase employment.
If you have big plans in the world of technology, or any other sector for that matter, and want to set up in the UK, now is a great time to get involved.
So, the question on your mind is “how can I set up in the UK?” You can always give us a call but here is a rundown of what you need to know.
To kick start your eligibility to apply for an Entrepreneur Visa UK you must first meet the most important criteria; that you are a non-EEA national who wants to set up or run a business in the UK.
There are two ways you can apply for the Entrepreneur Visa UK:
- You can show that you have access to at least £50,000 of investment funds; or
- At least £200,000 investment funds
Before we get into the nitty gritty details of how to apply, it’s important to know what you can and can’t do and the general requirements applicable to both categories.
There are no restrictions on the following activities:
- Setting up or taking over the running of a business or even two
- Working for your business (that includes being self-employed)
- Bringing your family members with you to the United Kingdom
The usual restriction of no access to public funds applies, but in addition to this you are not permitted to work outside of your business, that includes being employed by someone else.
You also need to meet the following general requirements:
- The old favourite, English language – demonstrated by passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1, having a degree or above that was taught in English or approved by NARIC; or being a national of an English majority speaking country.
- Maintenance – if you are outside the UK making an entrepreneur visa UK entry clearance application, you need to have held £3,310 in your account for 90 consecutive days. If you are in the UK and applying for leave to remain you need to have £945 held for the same amount of time.
- Score 95 points – call us to find out if you score the right amount of points 4. Be at least 16 years old – if you are aged 16 or 17, the Home Office or Consulate will need to see written consent from your parents
Let’s talk money
As you might have guessed, one can’t turn up to the UK border with a suitcase full of cash. That might raise other sorts of questions and involve a very lengthy spell in a holding cell!
So your money must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions and be disposable; that means you must have free access to spend it on a business in the United Kingdom. It gets a little more complicated after that depending on how much money you have access to.
If all of that seems like just too much for you to carry alone, the UK do allow you to share the burden, we’re pretty generous like that!
They call it forming an ‘entrepreneurial team’ with one other Tier 1 Entrepreneur applicant. You and your team mate can share the investment funds and of course, must meet all the general requirements as well as:
- You must not use the same funds on another application with a different entrepreneurial partner
- Both of you must provide all the documents required for evidence of the funds with your own respective Entrepreneur Visa UK applications.
In order to apply with access to £50,000 you will need to, as mentioned above, show that you have access to the cash. You can also apply whilst in the UK if you are in one of the following visa categories:
- Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
- Tier 1 (Post-study worker)
- Tier 1 (General)
- Tier 4
- a student nurse
- studying, writing up a thesis or re-sitting an exam
- a postgraduate doctor or dentist
- an overseas qualified nurse or midwife
- a student sabbatical officer
Even if you have already invested the £50,000 into a UK business, you can still apply, but you must show that the funds were invested less than 12 months before the date of your application.
However, if you are a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) you can rely on investments from up to 24 months before you make your application.
Here’s where it gets complicated…
There are different funding sources and it depends on what visa you have that will determine what funding source you are able to use.
Approved funding source
You won’t be able to use this route if you’re a former Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), former post-study worker or a student.
If you can use this route, the approved sources are:
- a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UKTI
- a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
It is important to know that your investment funds cannot include your own money or money from any other third parties.
If you are currently in the UK as a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) you can have funding from any other source.
That is not the same if you are currently a Tier 1 (Post-study worker). You can still apply to switch in country. However you will need to have registered as a Director of a business or as a self-employed person in the 3 months before you make your application. You must also be working in a job on the list of occupations at NQF level 4 and above.
If you want to apply using your own funds or using funds from a venture capital firm regulated by the FCA you will need to show that you have been involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 11 July 2014.
If you are not able to do any of the above, you can only apply with funding from: • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment; or • a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business
Switching from a Tier 1 (General) visa
You can apply with funding from:
- a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UK Trade and Investment; or
- a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business
If you want to apply using investment funds from a venture capital firm registered with the FCA you need to show:
- As above, you have been involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 6 April 2015
- You have been working in a job on the list of occupations at the NQF level 4 and above since before 6 April 2015
If you are a former student, you can also apply to switch whilst in the UK.
Your funding must come from a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by UKTI or a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business.
The Home Office will not allow you to use your own money, money from any other third parties or any money from a UK venture capital firm.
For all applications made in the UK, the funds must be held in the UK.
For this category, you need to demonstrate that the money is your own or can be made available to you by other people. ‘Other people’ basically means third parties, so this could include your partner, an investor or even your parents.
Your funds can be held in a joint account with your spouse or partner but only if they aren’t applying for the same visa.
As with the £50,000 investment, you can also apply if you have already invested £200,000 in a UK business. The investment must have been made less than 12 months before your application is submitted.
If you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (Post-study worker) visa or as a student, the rules are exactly the same as for applying with £50,000.
However if you are a Tier 1 (General) visa holder and wish to use your own funds, you are only able to do so if:
- have been involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 6 April 2015
- have been working in a job on the list of occupations at the NQF level 4 and above since before 6 April 2015
It is a lot of information to take in, but once you’ve gotten over the eligibility hurdles and your application is approved, you will be given a maximum of 3 years and 4 months to stay and run your business in the UK.
You can then extend for another 2 years, subject to further eligibility, and once you hit the 5 year mark you may be eligible to apply for settlement.
Evidence of Investment Funds
You must provide the following evidence to show you have access to the appropriate investment funds: ?
- An official letter from each financial institution ?holding the funds.
- For money held in the UK only, a recent personal bank or building society statement from the UK financial institution holding the funds, which confirms the amount of money available to you or your entrepreneurial team.
- For money provided by a venture capital firm or seed funding competition, a recent letter from an accountant confirming the amount of money made available to you or your business.
- for money provided by a UK government department, a recent letter from an accountant or authorised official confirming the amount of money made available to you or your business.
Funding from a third party
You must also provide the following evidence if any third parties have contributed funds toward your application or if you’ve held the money for less than 90 days:
- Confirmation thy have made the money available for you to invest in a UK business.
- A letter from a legal representative (independent from those providing funds) confirming the signatures on the declaration are valid
- Evidence that you can support yourself
You must prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK.