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Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa – Bringing Family Members To The UK

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The sun is shining and many people are off for their summer holidays. This tends to be a time of year where people relax in the warm weather and start making plans for September, when the business world kicks into high gear again.

For those committed to applying for a UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, the question of if and how they can bring dependent family members to the UK is one of the most frequent enquiries our Immigration solicitors, who are considered some of the best in London, deal with.

Entrepreneurs need the support of their family. Their work often involves high-pressure decision making and long hours, and this type of lifestyle is easier to copy with when you have a spouse and/or children to take your mind off work for a few hours during the week.

It is possible to bring family members with you to Britain on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. However, their ability to gain entry into the country will depend on you meeting the eligibility criteria of the Entrepreneur Visa and passing the all-important Genuine entrepreneur Test.

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa – are you eligible?

The Tier 1 (entrepreneur) route is for people who wish to set up, join or take over a business or businesses in the UK. This can be done as a sole trader, or within a partnership or UK-registered company structure.

Applications are examined very strictly by the Home Office. To meet the criteria, you must show:

  • you have £50,000 or £200,000 in funds available to invest in a business
  • you meet the English language requirement
  • can support yourself whilst in the UK by showing evidence of £945 in savings which is in addition to your investment funds
  • you score at least 95 points on the Points-Based System
  • you are at least 16 years old

Investment funds

An applicant must have access to the required funds, which can be made available to them by third parties (whether individuals or companies). The standard level of funds required is £200,000, but this is reduced to £50,000 if the funds are being provided by certain UK venture capitalists, seed funding competitions or government departments.

Applicants applying for leave to remain and have or were last granted leave as a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) migrant may also be able to apply with £50,000.

The investment funds must be held in a UK regulated financial institution or be transferable to the UK. However, if an applicant is applying to switch into the Entrepreneur Visa category from within the UK, the money will need to be held in the UK when the application is made.

When the application is made, the investment funds may be:

  • held in the account of the applicant
  • already invested in the applicant’s business, or
  • held in the account of a third party and available to the applicant

Passing the Genuine entrepreneur Test

In 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent, non-departmental advisory body sponsored by the Home Office, published a report suggesting that the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa be “substantially reformed”.

The MAC report stated that its investigations had discovered that some migrants were using the entrepreneur route as a low-cost alternative to the Tier 1 (investor) route, which requires an investment of £2 million. This was being achieved by visa holders investing in a business in return for a small equity stake, but with only a limited role in the running of the company.

As a result of the MAC report and its recommendations, the UK government has tightened up the application process by introducing a Genuine entrepreneur Test to protect against the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa being abused.

To pass this test, you must provide the Home Office with a detailed business planand provide evidence through supporting documents that:

  • you have experience and knowledge of the market sector you are planning to launch your business in
  • if you are investing in an existing company, you will be proactively involved in the day to day running of the business
  • you have conducted extensive market research and have a clear sales and marketing plan for your product or service
  • you have a plan in place to create the required two full-time positions within your business for settled persons in the UK
  • you understand UK Employment laws

The Genuine entrepreneur Test also applies to applications for visa extension and Indefinite Leave to Remain, which we will discuss later in this article.

Bringing family members to the UK on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

Those who successfully obtain a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa may be entitled to bring dependent family members to the UK.

You must have £1,890 to support each dependant if you’re applying from outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than 12 months. If you’ve been in the UK for more than 12 months, you must have £630 for each dependant.

You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 90 days before you or they apply.

In addition, you and your dependents will need to pay £200 each per year for the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.

Extending your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain

Your initial Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa will be granted for three years and four months. After this period, you may apply for an extension. To be granted an extension you will need to show:

  • within six months of being granted your Entrepreneur Visa you registered as self-employed with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or as a company director
  • documents to demonstrate how the £50,000 or £200,000 investment funds have been spent
  • that the business has created at least two new full time jobs (or their equivalent) for settled persons for at least 12 months each by the date of the extension application
  • you can pass the Genuine entrepreneur Test

In essence, the Home Office needs to be satisfied you have established, taken over or become a director of one or more businesses in the UK and you have genuinely operated that business. You will also need to prove to the Home Office that your investment funds have genuinely been invested into one or more businesses and have been spent for the purpose of those businesses.

The business’ accounts which are submitted as specified evidence should clearly identify how the investment funds have been spent over the three years, four months.

Therefore, accurate record-keeping during the three years, four months leading up to applying for an extension is vital. One of the best ways to ensure you will have the documentation required when it comes time to apply for an extension is to instruct an Immigration lawyer to maintain and update your business and financial records throughout the duration of your visa.

If your extension is approved, after five years in the UK on a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, you and your family may be entitled to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We have a wealth of experience advising entrepreneurs and their families applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.

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