Get British Nationality as an Entrepreneur (UK Tier 1 Visa)

Overview

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if:

  • you want to set up or run a business in the UK
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

You must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply.

How long it takes to get a visa

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Example: You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

You can check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in your country.

Fees

How much you pay for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa depends on your situation, where you are and how you apply.

Who you’re applying for Apply online or by post Apply in person outside the UK
You £1,228 £982
You (if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia) £1,173 £927
All dependants £1,228 each person £982 each person

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

How long you can stay

You can come to the UK with a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months.

You can apply to extend this visa for another 2 years if you’re already in this category and 3 years if you’re switching to it from another category.

You may be able to apply for settlement (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you’ve been in the UK for 5 years.

What you can and can’t do

You can:

You can’t:

  • do any work outside your business, for example work where you’re employed by another business
  • get public funds

Eligibility

You must have access to at least £50,000 investment funds to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Your funds must be:

  • held in one or more regulated financial institutions
  • free to spend (‘disposable’) on business in the UK

There are different eligibility requirements depending on whether you have access to £50,000 or to £200,000.

You must also:

Read more about the points-based system in the full guidance on the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

Sharing investment funds

You can form an ‘entrepreneurial team’ with one other Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicant and share the same investment funds.

You and your team member must meet all the application requirements and:

  • not use the same funds on another application with a different entrepreneurial team
  • provide all the documents needed for evidence of the funds with your own applications

Knowledge of English

You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.

You can prove your knowledge of English by either:

  • passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
  • having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelors degree, masters degree or PhD

You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways. Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.

Exceptions

You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

Access to £50,000 investment funds

You can apply if you have access to £50,000 in investment funds from one or more of the following:

  • UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by the Department for International Trade (DIT)
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business
  • a venture capital firm registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

You can also apply if you’ve already invested £50,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.

The funding rules are different if you’re changing (switching) from another visa, or if you’ve already had a UK visa.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

You can apply if you have a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa and want to change (switch) your visa.

Your funding can come from any source.

You can rely on investments from up to 24 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (Post-study worker)

You can apply if you have a Tier 1 (Post-study worker) visa and want to change (switch) your visa.

You can apply with funding from:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by DIT
  • a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business

You can also apply using your own funds or money from a venture capital firm if you have been either:

  • involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 11 July 2014
  • working in a job on the list of occupations at the regulated qualifications framework (RQF) level 4 or above since before 11 July 2014

You can rely on investments from up to 12 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (General)

You can apply if you have a Tier 1 (General) visa and want to change (switch) your visa.

You can apply with funding from:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by DIT
  • a UK government department funding the setting up or expansion of a UK business

You can also apply using money from a venture capital firm if you have been either:

  • involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 6 April 2015
  • working in a job on the list of occupations at the RQF level 4 or above since before 6 April 2015

You can’t apply using money from any other source, including your own money.

You can rely on investments from up to 12 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

Apply as a former student

You may be able to apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you’re already in the UK and you’re a Tier 4 visa holder.

You can apply with funding from:

  • a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by DIT
  • a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business

Your investment funds can’t include:

  • your own money
  • money from any other third parties
  • money from a UK venture capital firm

The funds must be held in the UK if you’re applying for leave to remain.

You can rely on investments from up to 12 months before your Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) application.

If you have financial sponsorship

If your course fees and living costs have been paid for by a government or international scholarship agency, you must get written consent from them to re-enter or remain in the UK without any conditions.

Access to £200,000 investment funds

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa if you have access to £200,000 in investment funds and you can prove that the money is either:

  • your own
  • made available to you by other people (‘third parties’), such as a spouse, partner or investor
  • in a joint account with your spouse or partner but only if they aren’t applying for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa

The funds must be held in the UK if you’re applying for leave to remain.

Previous investment

You can also apply if you’ve invested £200,000 in a UK business. You must have invested the funds less than 12 months before you apply.

Apply as a former Tier 1 (Post-study) worker or Tier 4 student

If you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (Post-study worker) visa or as a Tier 4 student, you must follow the rules for applying with £50,000 funding.

Apply if you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (General) visa

If you’re in the UK on a Tier 1 (General) visa, you can only apply with £200,000 of your own funds if you:

  • have been involved in running one or more UK businesses (for example you’re listed as a company director) since before 6 April 2015
  • have been working in a job on the list of occupations at the regulated qualifications framework level 4 and above since before 6 April 2015

Documents you must provide

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • evidence of the investment funds available to you
  • a business plan
  • evidence that you can support yourself during your stay
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
  • criminal record certificate from any country you have lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years

You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa.

You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.

Read the guide for a list of documents you can provide.

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Evidence of investment funds

What evidence you provide depends on where the money is.

Your own money in a UK financial institution

From each institution holding the funds, send either:

  • a personal bank or building society statement
  • an official letter

Money from UK government department or seed funding competition

You must provide evidence from each institution awarding the funds:

  • UK government department – send an official letter from an accountant or authorised official
  • Department for International Trade endorsed seed funding competition – send an official letter from an accountant or authorised official

Funding from another third party

If you’re using money from a third party (not a UK government department or seed funding competition), you must provide:

  • an official letter from an accountant or the financial institution holding the money
  • a letter from the third party confirming the money is available for you to invest in a UK business
  • a letter from a legal representative (independent from those providing funds) certifying the signatures on the confirmation are valid

If your funding is from a venture capital firm, you must also provide:

  • an original letter from its director, partner or fund manager
  • a term sheet signed by all parties
  • proof that it has carried out checks and followed certain processes (‘due diligence’)

Evidence that you can support yourself

You must prove that you have enough personal savings to support yourself while you’re in the UK.

How you prove this depends on where you’re making your application from:

  • outside the UK – you’ll need £3,310
  • in the UK – you’ll need £945

Your personal savings must have been in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.

You can’t use either of the following to support yourself:

  • money from your investment funds
  • money earned while working in the UK illegally

Apply

Read the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) guidance before you apply.

You’ll have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

Apply outside the UK

You must apply online for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.

You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date).

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in – check with your visa application centre.

North Korea

You can’t apply online if you’re living in North Korea.

To apply from North Korea you must:

Apply in the UK

Check if you can apply to:

  • extend your existing Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa