You’ve Got Talent – Deciding Between a UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa banner


You’ve Got Talent – Deciding Between a UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

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For talented people looking to work or start a new venture in the UK, it can be difficult to decide between applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa or a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. Both provide a path to settlement and an ability to reach professional goals in the thriving UK market.

As one of London’s top Immigration law firms, OTS Solicitors has assisted many applicants in both visa categories.

When helping clients decide on what visa category to choose, providing the best advice involves our Immigration lawyers carefully considering each client’s individual circumstances.

Who is a suitable candidate for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa?

To be eligible for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, an applicant must have access to either £200,00 or £50,000 in investment funds.

In most cases, an applicant will have to demonstrate that they have access to £200,000 which is held in a regulated financial institution and available for investment into a business in the UK. However, in the limited circumstances below, an applicant can rely on the lower threshold of £50,000:

  • where the capital comes from one or more venture capital firms regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority;
  • where the capital comes from one or more UK entrepreneurial seed funding competitions which is endorsed by Department for International Trade;
  • where the capital comes from one or more UK Government departments for the specific purpose of establishing or expanding a business in the UK;
  • if the applicant has or was last granted, a Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) visa; or
  • if the applicant has, or was last granted, a Tier 1 (Post Study Work).

It is important for Immigration solicitors to explain when giving the best legal advice that merely having the amount of capital available will not be sufficient to succeed with an application under Tier 1 (entrepreneur). Since the introduction of the "Genuine entrepreneur" test, most applications under Tier 1 (entrepreneur) stand or fall depending on whether UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) can be satisfied that the applicant has the ability and intention to set up, join or takeover a business in the UK. As the Rules and guidance on what makes a person a "Genuine entrepreneur" are somewhat vague and subjective, this is one of the less transparent criteria. However, the provision of a business plan will go some way in helping to satisfy this requirement. In addition, engaging a top business immigration solicitor can ensure you have the best advice regarding passing the Genuine entrepreneur test.

In terms of the 10 points for English language, an applicant must be able to satisfy UKVI they have a knowledge of English to level B1 of the Common European Framework for Language Learning. This is an intermediate level and can be satisfied by one of the following methods:

  • being a national of a majority English speaking country;
  • having a degree taught in English;
  • passing an approve English language test;
  • having met the requirement in a previous grant of leave; or
  • by benefitting from transitional arrangements.

Applicants for the Tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa must obtain 10 points by providing evidence of additional funds to show that they can maintain themselves in the UK without recourse to public funds. Those applying from within the UK must show that they have held £945 for a period of 90 days prior to the date of the application.

The eligibility requirements for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

If you wish to work in the UK, independent of a Tier 2 General Visa (which will bind you to an employer with a UK Sponsor Licence), you can apply for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, if you meet strict criteria.

To make a successful application, you must be endorsed as a recognised leader or emerging talent in the field of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology, or the arts.

The endorsing bodies are:

  • Arts Council England – for arts and culture 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; and
  • Tech City UK – for digital technology applications.

Merely being talented is not enough. For example, to be endorsed by the arts council as a writer, you must be able to show examples of media recognition for your work, not only in your own country, but internationally, and that you have received a major international award for your work, for example, the Booker or Pulitzer Prize.

Once you have been endorsed, a process that generally takes around eight weeks, you must then apply for entry-clearance.

Settlement under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa

Both the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa or a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa offer the option of applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years.

Those who have come into the UK under the entrepreneur route will have to prove they have met the requirements of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa over the five-year period. This includes creating jobs for at least two settled people, something you will need to show when you apply for an extension after residing in the UK for three years and four months.

There is a provision in the Immigration Rules for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa holder to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after three years, where the business(es) which they have established, joined or taken over has:

  • Led to the creation of ten new employed positions (or equivalent) for settled persons, which have existed for 12 months over the period of time the person has spent as a Tier 1 (entrepreneur) migrant, or
  • had an income, or increase in income for an existing business, of at least £5 million during the 3-year period that the person has spent as a Tier 1 (entrepreneur) migrant

Regardless of the type of visa you have, you will need to pass an English language test and Life in the UK test to be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Our Immigration solicitors can advise you on the best visa type for you. We are experts in business immigration law and will partner with you from the beginning of your application process to ensure you are on track to obtain settlement in your desired time-frame.

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 will provide clear, practical advice on all business immigration matters.

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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