For non-EU Companies looking to expand their business and establish their company in the UK, a UK Business Visa will be required for any member of your company who comes to set up here.

There are two visa options to consider: you can apply for a visa as a ‘Representative of an Overseas Business’, or as a Tier 1 ‘Entrepreneur’.

This article gives guidance on the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa application process for non-EU nationals and is the second of two articles where we outline general requirements for applying for business visas.

The first article examines requirements for non-EU nationals applying as a Representative of an Overseas Business.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa

This guidance is provided for non-European Economic Area Nationals who wish to come to the UK as a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur).

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is to attract people to invest in the United Kingdom by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of, one or more businesses. Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas are ideal for entrepreneurs with some money to invest in the UK.

As a visa holder under this category, you will be able to come to the UK for an initial period of 3 years and 4 months with the option of extending for a further 2 years. After you have been in the UK for 5 years, you may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

General Requirements

  • In order to qualify for this visa, you must intend and be able to establish, take over or become a director of at least one business in the UK within the first 6 months of entering.
  • There are two routes to meeting the investment funds requirement for this category:

Route 1: Access to £50,000 of investment funds which come from one of the following approved funding sources:

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

Route 2: Access to £200,000 of investment funds which is either your own, jointly yours with a spouse / partner or made available to you by a third party. These funds must also be disposable in the UK and held in one or more regulated financial institutions.

  • In addition to the investment funds requirement, you will need to meet the maintenance requirement to prove that you can support yourself in the UK. You must show that you have access to at least £3,310 and these funds must have been in your account for at least 90 days prior to your application.
  • You will also be assessed on the credibility and viability of the source of your investment funds; your business plan and market research in your chosen business sector; and your previous educational and business experience.
  • Finally, if you are from a country that is not majority English speaking, you will also need to meet the English Language requirement. You can meet this either by holding a qualifying academic qualification at Bachelors degree level or above that was taught in English or by taking an approved English Language Test.

Application & Processing Time

You can apply for your visa up to 3 months prior to travelling to the UK. Your visa will normally take up to 15 working days to process, depending on the current processing times at the British Diplomatic post in your area.

Visa Submission Process

Depending on the country that you are applying from, you may be required to undergo a Tuberculosis Test prior to applying for your UK visa. After you have completed this and gathered all of the necessary supporting documents, you can submit the online application.

At the time of submitting your application online, you will need to pay the visa fee, which is currently £944. In addition to this, you will need to pay a ‘health surcharge’ at the prorated cost of £200 per year for the duration of your visa. This fee is payable upfront at the time of your application.

You will then be required to book an appointment to attend a visa application centre in your area to submit your biometrics (fingerprints and photo) and supporting documents. The visa application centre will contact you after your visa has been processed.

Other Considerations

With this visa, you will be allowed to work only for your own business. You may bring your qualifying family members to the UK as dependants.

The specific documents that you will need to submit in support of your visa application to prove that you meet the requirements will depend on your personal circumstances, route of investment funds, source of your funds and intentions with your business in the UK. It is also possible to form an ‘entrepreneurial team’ with one other Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicant and share the investment funds. You must ensure that you meet all documentary requirements for this visa prior to applying.

Please note that this information is provided as guidance only and is not intended to be used as advice. Information correct as at 1st April, 2015.

Should you require any help in expanding your business to the UK, or have any questions regarding UK market entry, please contact

Guest Blog by Beverley Harper, Immigration Specialist, IQA Immigrations Specialists Ltd. For further information, or assistance specifically with immigration or visas, please contact