News

Tier 1 – The ‘Genuine Entrepreneur’ Test (25 August 2017)

Date: 25/08/2017


Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Tier 1 – The ‘Genuine Entrepreneur’ Test

Entrepreneurs are usually in a league of their own. Admirably so, as they show capacity and willingness to develop and manage a business venture along with any of its risks to make a profit. Talent and drive has led to the success of many notable entrepreneurs: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, JP Morgan and Coco Chanel, just to name a few.

Entrepreneurs from all nationalities and business backgrounds apply to enter the UK on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. In 2016, over 1600 applications were received, which is triple the amount of applications that were submitted in 2011.

It was only a matter of time before the UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) felt it was necessary to introduce a 'Genuine Entrepreneur Test' for individuals applying for Leave to Enter the UK under the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category of the Points Based System. Applicants must now, on a balance of probabilities, convince the Home Office that they are a Genuine Entrepreneur within the UK. This is usually by way of an interview. This process has led high net worth individuals and entrepreneurs to pursue alternative options in other countries as the route in the UK has been portrayed as “complex, strict, difficult and unattractive”. It hardly signals that the UK is “open for business”.

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa category is open to migrants who intend to establish, join, or take over one or more businesses in the UK. They must:

  • Have access to a minimum level of funds (either £200,000 or £50,000);
  • Speak English at an appropriate level;
  • Sufficient personal funds; and
  • Be a 'Genuine' entrepreneur.

  • As part of their 'Genuine’ Entrepreneur assessment, the UKVI will consider the following factors when making a decision:

  • The evidence submitted by the applicant;
  • Credibility of the source of the funds available;
  • Credibility of the applicant's business plan/s and the market research into chosen business sector;
  • Applicant's previous educational and business experience (or lack thereof); and
  • Applicant's previous immigration history and activity in the UK.

  • In practice, the UKVI will start by considering the documentary evidence submitted by the applicant. The next step will be to review and critique the Business Plan at length. We have recently noted that UKVI can (and often do) make a decision without interviewing the applicant based on the evidence provided alone.

    The UKVI will then interview the migrant about his/her business and then make a decision. During the interview, the applicant will be interviewed at length about his/her business. An example of the generic line of questioning that an Applicant may be asked is as follows:

    1. What services are provided in your business?
    2. Do you have a website, who designed it?
    3. What kind of market research did you undertake?
    4. What did the research reveal?

    It is worth noting that the Interviewing Officers will have limited knowledge about the business and will have formed a preliminary view on the application based on the evidence and Business Plan alone. In that regard, it is vital that emphasis is placed on the Business Plan to ensure it is comprehensive and well drafted. The assistance of professional Business Plan writers, if possible, should also be considered; this will ensure that comprehensive market research and analysis is carried out, incorporated into a well drafted Business Plan and presented to UKVI.

    These rules and administrative issues may put a dampener on the Applicant’s hopes and it may seem daunting for a lot of bright and enthusiastic entrepreneurs looking for business ventures in the UK. However, whether you are an early-stage start-up or an experienced entrepreneur, you should not be deterred from setting up in the UK, as the opportunities for growth and development remain evident. Recent studies reinforce this by showing the UK to be the fastest growing western economy in 2017.

    Given the volume of applications dealt with by Duncan Lewis on a day-to-day basis, we have developed our very own strategy for Tier 1 applications, and this has contributed to our very high success rate. As a result, all of our clients are now in the UK with very successful businesses.

    It is worth noting that the UKVI received over 1600 applications last year, yet more than 50% of these applications were rejected. In that regard, we would advise all clients to seek specialist legal advice when considering their options to enter the UK.

    We provide a bespoke and supportive role to our clients and have a dedicated team on call to assist entrepreneurs with:

    1. A consultation to advise on the rules and the strengths and weaknesses of the case;
    2. Providing practical steps to remedy any shortfalls;
    3. Considering the business at length with the client, considering logistics, practicalities and the methods of funding available; and
    4. Preparing the client for an interview with a particular set of questions, developed from our years of experience which will prepare the client for even the toughest of interviews.

    Our specialist fee earners will help you compile the right documentation to show that you meet all of the above requirements and ensure you receive the most efficient and professional service.

    We also provide expert advice and assistance to applicants looking to extend their visas and with applications for indefinite leave to remain under the ordinary and accelerated routes.

    Shyam Dhir, a Business Immigration Solicitor, based at our London office is a highly experienced advisor. Shyam welcomes new enquiries and can be contacted for a no-obligation discussion on 0203 114 1271 or by email at shyamd@duncanlewis.com.