Tier 1 Visa UK – Are You Eligible?


The Tier 1 visa route into the UK offers individuals of non-EEA nations to come to Britain for a number of different purposes considered of high value to the UK economy, for example, to set up business, make investments to take up employment as an exceptional talent.

Before proceeding with any Home office application, you should firts ensure you have opted for the most appropriate route for your circumstances and ensure you satisfy the eligibility requirements.

We summarise the various types of Tier 1 visa currently available, and the eligibility criteria applicants have to satisfy as part of the application process.

The 5-tier points based system is the main UK immigration route for foreign migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland to work, train or study in the UK.

Tier 1 of this system covers entry of investors, entrepreneurs, graduate entrepreneurs and those formally endorsed as having exceptional talent.

Note than applications under Tier 1 (General) are now closed.

Tier 1 visa for Investors

Tier 1 (Investor) is for individuals who wish to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. The criteria for this category are set out under paragraphs 245E to 245EF of the Immigration Rules.

Under the points based system you must meet the full requirements of the Immigration Rules and score a minimum number of points determined by your particular Tier 1 visa application. The awarding of points will be conditional on you providing documentary evidence in support.

Under the Tier 1 (Investor) requirements, you must score at least 75 points for attributes. Accordingly, in order to qualify for an initial grant of leave in this category you must have:

  • at least £2 million of your own funds, under your control, held in a regulated financial institution and which is disposable in the UK.
  • have opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purposes of investing not less than £2 million in the UK.

You may rely on money that is owned either jointly with, or solely by, your husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner. However, you must have an unrestricted right to transfer and dispose of the money, together with permission to have control of this money in the UK.

Tier 1 visa UK or individuals with Exceptional Talent

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) is the route for highly skilled individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology who, by relocating to the UK, will enrich the UK’s knowledge, economy and cultural life. The criteria for this category are set out under paragraphs 245B to 245BF of the Immigration Rules.

An applicant applying for entry clearance as a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) migrant must score 75 points for attributes. This comprises of an endorsement by one of five Designated Competent Bodies according to that Body’s criteria. By way of example, the Arts Council will apply specific criteria for arts and culture.

You may qualify under this route if you are already internationally recognised as having made significant contributions as a leader in your field, or you have demonstrated potential to contribute significantly as a future leader in your field.

Having been granted endorsement, the Home Office will consider the immigration aspects of your application including whether General Grounds for Refusal apply, for example, based on your previous immigration history.

Tier 1 visa UK for Entrepreneurs

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) has now closed to new applicants and has been replaced with the Innovator route.

Tier 1 visa for Graduate Entrepreneurs

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) has now closed to new applicants, and has been replaced with the Start up visa.

Do you need help with a Tier 1 visa UK application?

All applications for a Tier 1 visa are subject to General Grounds for Refusal. They are also subject to a limited number of places per year. Accordingly, if you are hoping to establish or invest in a business in the UK, or otherwise relocate to the UK to work, the consequences of having your application rejected can be significant, both financially and professionally.

The Immigration Rules for a Tier 1 visa application are extremely complex and frequently subject to change. An experienced immigration specialist can help you to select the most suitable type of Tier 1 visa and any other available routes. Your expert adviser can also assist with all aspects of your Tier 1 visa application, giving you the best possible chance of a positive outcome.

Before making a UK visa application, take professional legal advice to ensure you have selected the most appropriate route, and for guidance on how to meet Home Office requirements and make a successful application.

DavidsonMorris specialise in Tier 1 visa applications. We work with applicants from across the globe who are seeking to enter or remain in the UK by establishing or taking over a business here.

We provide advice from the initial stages, advising on eligibility and suitability of the Tier 1 visa route and visa options for any dependants, through to detailed support with compiling your supporting evidence, completing the Tier 1 entrepreneur form and guidance on the interview.

We also have specific expertise in entrepreneurial team applications, appealing refusals and Tier 1 renewals, and our advice for the initial application will ensure the foundations for any future application to renew your Tier 1 visa.

If you have any questions relating to your application, please contact us.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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