Tier 1 Immigration

1. What is a Tier 1 Visa?

This is the first level of the points-based immigration system phased in between 2008 and 2010, it replaced the previous Tier 1 (General) and Tier 1 (Post study work) visas which were closed for all applicants in 2011. The new system regulates immigration to the UK for eligible people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). There are three sub-categories in the Tier 1 structure. These are Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) for people wishing to set up a new business in the UK and be an active part of that business. Three years leave is granted for applicants which could lead to indefinite leave to remain depending on the success of the business. The second sub-category is Tier 1 (Investors) for those outside the EEA who wish to invest share capital in a UK business, and finally Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) which is for people who are leaders in fields of science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology and the arts. Successful applicants will receive an initial maximum period of leave of five years. 

2. How do I get a Tier 1 Visa extension?

Regardless of which sub-category visa you wish to have extended, you must apply for the extension before your current visa expires. Also, you must still meet the original eligibility requirements. If you are applying for an extension from within the UK you must download a form from www.gov.uk and apply by post. If you are applying from outside the UK you can apply online. Each extension application process will take up to eight weeks to complete, and is largely dependent on you supplying the correct supporting information (including biometric information) or if you are required to attend an interview.

3. I am a Tier 1 entrepreneur, what do I need to do?

Applications from outside the UK can be done online on www.gov.uk. You can’t apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa more than three months before you plan to travel to the UK, however, processing times typically only take around three weeks. If you wish to set up or run a business in the UK you can apply for a visa, on the proviso that you are investing a minimum of £50,000 in that business.  A successful application will allow you to stay in the UK for a maximum of three years and four months and set up or take over the running of one business or more. You can work for your business, including being self-employed, and you can also bring across family members. However, you can’t work for another business outside this one or get access to public funds. You must also meet certain English language requirements, be able to support yourself during your stay, score 95 points on the points calculator and be over 16 years old. When you apply for your Tier 1 visa you must provide a current passport or other valid travel documentation, evidence of the investment funds you are using and have access to, a business plan, evidence that you can support yourself while in the UK, proof that you meet the English language requirement, details of your criminal record and certain health records. There is a healthcare surcharge applicable also, which varies depending on where you are applying from. 

4. I am a Tier 1 investor, what do I need to do?

Applications from outside the UK can be done online on www.gov.uk. You can only apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa if you have access to £2,000,000 or more in investment funds and this to be invested in UK Government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. Applications will be accepted no earlier than three months before you plan to travel. Once the visa has been granted you can invest this money and are permitted, but not obliged, to work and study in the UK. Permanent residence in the UK is dependent on how much further investment you make. After two years you can apply to settle if you have invested a minimum of £10 million, and after three years you can stay if you have invested £5 million. When applying you will need to provide a current passport or other valid travel documentation, health records and details of any criminal records, and evidence of your investment funds. The information required to evidence these funds differs depending on whether the money is yours or if it is being provided by another party. But it must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions and of course must be available to be transferred and invested in the UK.   

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