The tier 1 (entrepreneur) route, introduced to attract investment into the UK, allows non-EEA nationals to work in the UK in a business which they set up, take over, or join. 

The UKBA has recently introduced changes making this route one of the accelerated routes to settlement. Depending on the income generated and the number of jobs created, migrants can qualify for settlement in three years rather than the usual five. As a result there has been an increase in the number of applications being made by high net worth individuals wishing to settle in the UK. However, can this route be of use to employers?

In certain circumstances it can be. These are where (a) the migrant or one or more third parties (which can be business(es) including the employer's group) together have available funds of at least £200,000 for investment in the business and (b) the migrant will be self-employed or joining the company as a director.

Obviously it will be necessary further down the line, when the tier 1 (entrepreneur) applies to extend their visa after their initial grant of leave for three years and four months,  to show that the £200,000 has been invested in the business in the UK that they have joined (in certain circumstances a loan will be sufficient) and that the equivalent of two full time jobs have been created in the business for people who are settled in the UK.

However. with the current UKBA proposals to limit the right to settlement for almost all tier 2 migrants, when making a senior board level hire the tier 1 (entrepreneur) route is certainly worth considering as it will, under current policy, lead to settlement.

Furthermore, if the business plan projects the creation of at least ten new jobs or a net increase in income of £5 million over a three year period, when compared to the immediately preceding three year period, then there is the prospect that the migrant could apply for settlement at the three year point under the accelerated settlement procedure, rather than waiting for the full five year period.