Even though the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route closed to new applicants on 29 March 2019, if you are currently living in the UK with valid leave as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder, you can still apply to extend your stay. For those of you who are looking to settle in the UK on a permanent basis, you can also apply for what’s known as indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
The following practical guide on Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR, will guide you through the eligibility requirements for a successful application for settlement in the UK, together with a brief overview of the criteria for extending your visa if you are not yet unable to satisfy the qualifying residence requirement for a settlement application.
Extension applications for Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holders will remain open until 5 April 2023, and settlement applications until 5 April 2025. Switching applications for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur applicants will remain open until 5 July 2021, where these individuals can apply to extend their leave up until 5 July 2025, and apply to settle up until 5 July 2027.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR ILR requirements
The Tier 1 Entrepreneur category of the UK points based system is for individuals from outside the EEA or Switzerland investing in the UK by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of one or more businesses in the UK.
This means that to apply for indefinite leave to remain in this category you will not only need to meet some eligibility requirements which apply to all points based system settlement applications, such as showing that you have knowledge of life and language in the UK, but also some requirements which are specific to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route.
Having satisfied these criteria, the Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR will give you the right to remain in the UK on an indefinite basis and provide a pathway to British citizenship.
To satisfy the specific Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR requirements you must show that you have:
- Invested, or caused investment to be made by one or more third parties totalling at least £200,000 (or £50,000 if you were awarded points for £50,000 funding or investment in your last grant of leave) in cash directly into one or more UK businesses.
- Registered as either a director or member of a UK limited liability partnership, or as self-employed, within 6 months of entering the UK, (if granted entry clearance and there is evidence to establish your date of entry) or, in any case within 6 months from the date your last leave was granted, and within the 3 months before the date of application.
- Created the equivalent of at least 2 new full time jobs for settled workers, either by establishing a new business or businesses, or by taking over or investing in a new business or businesses, that have existed for at least 12 months during your most recent grant of leave, or where that leave was granted less than 12 months ago, for at least the 12 months immediately before the date of your current application.
You can only score points for the job creation requirement from your most recent extension period of leave. You cannot claim points for any employment activity from your initial period of leave, as this can only be used to score points for your first extension application.
In addition to the requirements set out above, you must also satisfy what’s known as the genuine entrepreneur test. This means that you must be able to demonstrate that:
- You have established, taken over or become a director of one or more genuine businesses in the UK, and have genuinely operated that business or businesses while you have had leave as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder
- You have genuinely invested the necessary funds into one or more businesses in the UK to be spent for the purpose of that business or businesses
- You genuinely intend to continue operating one or more businesses in the UK.
Applying for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR
You can apply to settle in the UK once you have spent a continuous period of 5 years with leave as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder. If you meet additional criteria, you may be eligible to apply for accelerated Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR after a continuous period of 3 years.
Your qualifying period, either 3 or 5 years, will run from the date that your initial application was approved, although you cannot combine Tier 1 Entrepreneur leave with leave in any other visa categories to meet the continuous residence requirement.
To meet the residency criteria under either settlement route, you must ensure that you do not have excessive absences from the UK. This means that you cannot have had more than 180 days’ absence from the UK during any consecutive 12 months of the qualifying period. If you exceed the number of permitted absences, this will break the continuous period and you will need to start the qualifying settlement period again.
You can apply for settlement up to 28 days before you reach the end of the qualifying period. If you apply any earlier your application may be refused. Your qualifying period will either be the 3 or 5 years immediately before the date you apply for settlement, or the 3 or 5 years immediately before the date your settlement application is decided, depending on which is most beneficial for you.
Accelerated ILR for Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holders
Accelerated settlement is available to the most successful entrepreneurs and can be met through two different routes; job creation or having a high company turnover. To qualify you must have spent a continuous period of 3 years lawfully in the UK with leave as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder. You must also show that you have:
- Created the equivalent of at least 10 new full time jobs, including the 2 jobs relied upon under the standard job creation requirement and which meet the same requirements, or
- Established a new UK business or businesses that has or have had a gross income from business activity of at least £5 million during the 3 year continuous period, or
- Taken over or invested in an existing UK business or businesses and your services or investments have resulted in a net increase in gross income from business activity of £5 million during the 3 year continuous period, when compared to the 3 year period immediately before the date you became involved with the business as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR supporting documents
When applying for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR you will need to provide documentation in support of your application to show that you have met each of the eligibility requirements for investment, business activity, job creation and continuous residence. This is in addition to any documentation required to satisfy the general eligibility requirements applicable to your application, for example, evidence of your knowledge of the English language.
In some cases, where you were awarded points for satisfying a particular requirement in your last successful Tier 1 Entrepreneur application, you will not need to reproduce that evidence. This could include, for example, evidence of your investment, or evidence that you registered as a director, partner or as self-employed within the relevant 6 month timeframe. You will, however, still need to provide evidence that you remain registered in one of these capacities within 3 months before the date of your application for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR.
Even though there are generally fewer specified documents in Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR applications than for extensions, especially where the investment element has already been assessed, it is still advisable to seek expert advice from an immigration specialist. You should also take care when applying for accelerated settlement, for which you will need to provide additional evidence to show that you satisfy one of the two fast-track routes.
How much is the application for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR?
The cost of applying for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR is £2,389. This is in contrast to the cost of extending your visa of £1,277, although settlement means that you will be free to live in the UK on a permanent basis without the need for any further extension application.
How long is the processing time for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR?
When applying for Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR you must apply online. After you submit your application you will be asked to provide your fingerprints and a digital photo. This is referred to as your biometric information. You will usually be told whether your application has been successful within 6 months of providing that information.
If your application is complex and will take longer, you will be contacted. This could be because, for example, your supporting documents need to be verified, you need to attend an interview or because of your personal circumstances, such as you have a criminal conviction.
Extending Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa prior to ILR
If you are currently unable to satisfy the continuous residence requirement for indefinite leave to remain, you may be able to extend your Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa for a period of 2 years. In this way, you will be working toward accruing the standard 5 year qualifying period applicable to most Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holders. However, you must apply before your current visa expires, although you can stay in the UK until you have been given a decision.
You can apply to extend your existing Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa if you can show that you can support yourself in the UK and that you satisfy the following criteria:
- You registered as either a director or member of a UK partnership, or as self-employed, no more than 6 months after the date you were given permission to stay in the UK under a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa
- You can demonstrate that you have been self-employed, a member of a partnership or working as a director of a business 3 months before you apply
- You have created the equivalent of at least 2 new full time jobs for settled workers that have existed for at least 12 months
- You have invested into one or more UK businesses either £200,000 or £50,000 in cash, where the amount will depend on the level of funds your initial application was based on.
To qualify for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa extension you must satisfy the genuine entrepreneur test. This means that you must show that you have established, taken over or become a director of a genuine UK business; genuinely operated that business and invested the necessary funds; and genuinely intend to continue operating the business. In addition, you must also show that that you do not intend to take employment other than working for the business that you have established, joined or taken over in the UK.
DavidsonMorris are specialist UK immigration advisers for Tier 1 visa holders, supporting individuals throughout the ILR application process. If you have a question about going from a 1 Entrepreneur visa to ILR, contact us.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur ILR FAQs
What is Tier 1 ILR?
Tier 1 ILR is for individuals who are currently living in the UK with valid leave as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder and are looking to settle in the UK on a permanent basis. This is also known as an application for settlement.
What is the residence requirement for ILR?
You can apply to settle in the UK once you have spent a continuous period of 5 years with leave as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa holder. If you meet additional criteria, you may be eligible to apply for accelerated settlement after a continuous period of 3 years.
When do I extend my tier 1 entrepreneur visa?
You must apply to extend your tier 1 entrepreneur visa before your current visa expires, although you can stay in the UK until you have been given a decision. In some cases, you may also be eligible to apply for accelerated settlement after just 3 years.