7 tips for entrepreneurs applying for UK visas

9 August 2017

The entrepreneur visa route is a popular choice for migrants wishing to establish a business of their own in the UK.  However, refusal rates in this route are high (generally around 50%), and the pitfalls in the application process are numerous.  These are our tips for making a successful application for an entrepreneur visa.

1.      Understand the process

The entrepreneur category falls under the UK’s Points Based System (PBS)The PBS is restrictive, limiting not just who can qualify for a visa but also from where their application must be submitted.  In many cases, even if you are already present in the UK, you will need to return to your ordinary country of residence to apply as an entrepreneur. 

Those applicants who may apply in the UK are able to do so by post or via the Super Premium Service (same-day service costing thousands of pounds), but there is no option to apply at a Premium Service Centre, so you should plan when is the best time for you to apply.    

2.      Make sure you know how much money you need

Most entrepreneur applicants require investment funds of at least £200,000 to apply under this route.  There is an option to rely on the lower sum of £50,000, but only in limited circumstances when relying on specific sources of funding (eg registered venture capital).  You must fully understand the requirements applicable to you before beginning preparation of your application.   

3.      If the money is not yours, prepare for the extra evidence you will need

All applicants have the option of relying on their own personal savings or on third-party investment.  When reliant on funds provided by a third-party, additional evidence is essential to confirm your access to those funds.  Depending on the location of your third-party sponsor, documents may need to be multi-lingual, and you might require witnesses in the UK and elsewhere.  If your evidence does not meet Home Office requirements, your application will fail, so it is essential to get it right. 

4.      Your business plan is crucial

The business plan you submit in support of your application is one of the most important pieces of evidence in your application.  It will allow the decision-maker to assess your genuineness as an entrepreneur applicant, and the viability of your proposed UK business.  Your plan must be clear and precise, explaining what you hope to achieve in the UK, and how you will do it.  The high refusal rate in this category is often linked to submission of an undetailed or otherwise poor business plan, so preparation of this document is key.  It is also common for applicants to be interviewed and questioned about their business plan, so you should be as involved in its preparation as possible and be comfortable talking about the information it contains.    

5.      Know your English language requirement

The entrepreneur category comes with a strict English language requirement, which can be met in various ways.  Ensure that the proof of your English language ability meets Home Office requirements.  If you have completed an English test, was it the correct type of test?  Was it sat in an approved centre, and does it remain valid?  If you rely on degree-level study taught in English, do you have the necessary proof of study, and has the equivalence of your qualification been confirmed?

6.      Don’t forget your criminal record check

All entrepreneur applicants require evidence of a criminal record check, to confirm the absence of a criminal record in countries of current or previous residence.  Remember to request your check in good time and from the relevant authority.  Note also that adult dependants require their own check. 

7.      Consider your dependants

Entrepreneurs may sponsor their partners and children to travel to the UK with them (or to join them here).  Consider when an application is appropriate for you; you may wish to make your own application separately and then add on dependants later once your status is approved.  Also remember that the addition of dependants alters the amount of personal savings you require to support your application, and that dependants require their own evidence of reliance on you (especially children aged 16 or over). 

With careful preparation and attention to detail, you can reduce your chances of refusal in this challenging immigration route.  Latitude Law’s team of experts can offer you full advice and assistance, and can be contacted on 0161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0151 305 9600 (Liverpool).