Tier 1 is the immigration route available to highly skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs who want to work in the UK.

Tier 1 has four categories:

  1. Entrepreneur: if you are investing in the United Kingdom by setting up or taking over the running of a business;
  2. Exceptional Talent: if you’ve been endorsed in your field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts as a recognised leader (exceptional talent) or an emerging leader (exceptional promise);
  3. Graduate Entrepreneur: if you are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea
  4. Investor: if you are making a large investment in the United Kingdom.

You do not need a job offer when you apply to enter or stay in the UK in these categories, but you will need possess the necessary points based on Attributes and meet the mandatory requirements.

All sub-tiers have different Attributes you need to score a minimum numbers of points for.

However, the English proficiency and maintenance requirements are the same for all of Tier 1.

English language requirement

Under all sub-categories of Tier 1 except the Tier 1 – Investor, you must prove that you are able to speak English to a competent level so to improve your potential to succeed in the UK labour market.

The standard of competence in the English language required is a minimum of CEFR level B1.

In addition to the normal 3 ways to score points, you will also meet the English language requirement if:

  • you were given permission to stay in the past under the Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent; or
  • you were given permission to stay as a Tier 2 – General under the immigration rules in place on or after 6 April 2011; or
  • you were given permission to stay as a Tier 4 (General) Student and your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies in support of your application was assigned on or after 6 April 2011;
  • you were given permission to stay as a Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)

provided the in the original application you had scored points for knowledge of English language at B1 level.

Maintenance requirement

Unless you are applying as a Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent or as a Tier – 1 Investor, you must be able to demonstrate that you have enough personal savings to support yourself during your stay in the UK. The amount of money needed is different for each sub-category of Tier 1:

  1. Tier 1- Entrepreneur: you must have £3,310 for yourself – if you are applying from outside the UK; or £945– if you are applying from the UK.
  2. Tier 1 – Graduate Entrepreneur: you must have £1,890 for yourself – if you are applying from outside the UK; or £945– if you are applying from the UK.

In any case, you must have held these amounts in your bank account for a minimum period of 3 months (90 days) immediately preceding your application.  The balance should not fall below the required minimum at any time during the 3-month period.

For a Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent or as a Tier – 1 Investor applications, there is no maintenance requirement, not even for dependants.

Except from Tier 1 – Exceptional Talent or as a Tier – 1 Investor applications, if you are bringing with you any dependants, they also must have sufficient money to support their stay in the UK. The amount needed depends on the different Sub-tier category:

  • For Tier 1 – Entrepreneur:
    • £1,890 for each dependant, if you are applying from outside the UK or you have been in the UK for less than 12 months;
    • £630, if you have been in the UK for 12 months or more.
  • For Tier 1 – Graduate Entrepreneur:
    • £1,260 for each dependant, if you are applying from outside the UK or you have been in the UK for less than 12 months;
    • £630 for each dependant, if you have been in the UK for 12 months or more.

Tier 1 (Investor)

The Tier 1 (Investor) category is designed to allow high net worth individual to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. However, you cannot invest in companies mainly engaged in property investment, property management or property development.

Eligibility criteria

You do not need a job offer to apply under the investor category. You need to be 18 years old or above.

When you apply, you are awarded points based on your ability to invest £2,000,000 or more in the UK.

 

  • you are outside the UK and applying for permission to enter the UK under this sub-tier (initial application’); or
  • you are already in the UK with permission to stay in an immigration category that allows you to switch into Tier 1 (Investor) and want to make an initial application as an investor (‘extension application’); or
  • you are already in the UK with leave to remain under this sub-tier or the former ‘investor’ category and you want to extend your permission to stay under this sub-tier (‘extension application’)

Required points

You will need a total of at least 75 points to be able to apply:

  • 75 for attributes;
  • English language skills: EXEMPT
  • Maintenance: EXEMPT

For initial applications:

ATTRIBUTES: You must score 75 points for access to:

  • have money of your own amounting to at least £2,000,000, held in a regulated financial institution, and which is disposable in the UK;
  • you must have opened an account with a UK regulated bank for the purposes of investing that money in the UK.

You may rely on money that you own jointly with your husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner, but you must have unrestricted right to transfer and dispose of the money held jointly and solely by your partner and have permission from your partner to have control of this money in the United Kingdom.

Assets held by your husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried or same-sex partner, either jointly or in your partner’s own name, can be taken into account when assessing your net worth.

For extension applications:

  • If you have successfully applied for your Tier 1 – Investor visa before 6 November 2014, you can apply for an extension of your visa if you:
    • Have at least £1,000,000 under your control in the UK, and
    • have invested at least £750,000 (or 75%) of that in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK companies and and have invested the remaining balance of £1 million in the UK by the purchase of assets or by maintaining the money on deposit in a UK regulated financial institution; and
    • have invested this sum within 3 months of the date of your entry into the UK or of your date of application.
  • If you have successfully applied for your Tier 1 – Investor visa after 6 November 2014, you can apply for an extension of your visa if you:
    • have at least £2,000,000 under your control in the UK
    • have invested those funds in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active UK companies
    • invested this sum within 3 months of your entry into the UK or of your date of application.

In all cases, you must also provide an overseas criminal record certificate for any country you have resided in continuously or cumulatively for 12 months or more, in the 10 years prior to your application.

Duration of the visa

With this visa you can stay in the UK for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months.

You can then apply for an extension for another 2 years.

Application Fees

The cost of this visa is:

  • if you apply online or by post: £1,561
  • if you use the super premium service by person in the UK: a one-off fee of £10,500, plus £2,030 for each person applying.

You will also have to pay the cost of the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category is for those investing in the United Kingdom by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of, one or more businesses in the UK.

Eligibility criteria

You do not need a job offer if you are applying as a highly skilled worker. You must be 16 years old or above.

You can apply under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) if:

  • you are outside the UK and applying for permission to enter the UK under this sub-tier (initial application’); or
  • you are already in the UK with permission to stay (known as ‘leave to remain’)
  • in an immigration category that allows you to switch into this sub-category (‘extension application’); or
  • you are already in the UK with leave to remain under Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and you want to extend your permission to stay under this category (‘extension application’)

Required points

You will need a total of at least 95 points to be able to apply:

  • 75 for attributes;
  • 10 points for English language skills and
  • 10 points for maintenance.

ATTRIBUTES for initial applications:

  • 25 points for:
    • access to not less than £200,000, or
    • access to not less than £50,000 from:
    • a venture capital firms registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), or
    • a UK Entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed on the Department for International Trade (DIT) pages of the GOV.UK website, or

www.gov.uk/government/publications/entrepreneurs-setting-up-in-the-uk/entrepreneurs-setting-up-in-the-uk#endorsement-for-an-entrepreneur-visa

    • a UK Government Departments making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business;
  • the money is in a regulated financial institution; – 25 points
  • the money is disposable in the United Kingdom– 25 points.

ATTRIBUTES for extension applications:

  • as a former Tier 1- Graduate Entrepeneur:
  • access to not less than £50,000 – 25 points
  • the money is in a regulated financial institution; – 25 points
  • the money is disposable in the United Kingdom– 25 points.
  • as a former Tier 1 – Post Study Worker or Tier 1 – General:
    • access to not less than £50,000, AND involved in running one or more UK businesses since before 11 July 2014, OR working in a job on the list of occupations at the regulated qualifications framework (RQF) level 4 or above since before 11 July 2014 – 25 points
    • the money is in a regulated financial institution – 25 points
    • the money is disposable in the United Kingdom– 25 points.
  • as a former Tier 4 – Student:
    • access to not less than £50,000 from a UK entrepreneurial seed funding competition endorsed by DIT OR a UK government department making funds available for the purpose of setting up or expanding a UK business – 25 points
    • the money is in a regulated financial institution – 25 points
    • the money is disposable in the United Kingdom– 25 points.

Duration of the visa

With this visa you can stay in the UK for a maximum of 3 years and 4 months.

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

Application Fees

The cost of this visa is:

  • if you apply online or by post: £1,228 for yourself and for each dependant you bring with you, or £1,173 if you are from Turkey or Macedonia;
  • if you apply in person outside the UK: £982 for yourself and for each dependant you bring with you, or £927 if you are from Turkey or Macedonia.

You will also have to pay the cost of the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category is open to exceptionally talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology. 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 already demonstrated potential to contribute significantly as a future leader in your field.

If you are given permission to stay as an exceptional worker, this route allows you to work and change employers, or to be self-employed, without the need for further authorisation or to be sponsored for employment in a specific post.

There are limited places available under this visa category, with 500 places released on both 6 April and 1 October each year.

 

Application process and eligibility criteria

To get this visa there is a two stage application process:

  1. First you have to apply to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field of expertise (‘endorsement application’).

In this phase, which is not an immigration application, your skills and achievements will be assessed by a Designated Competent Body and, if you are successful and meet the eligibility criteria to be endorsed for your specific field, you will receive an endorsement letter by the Home Office which you will need for your visa application.

The eligibility criteria for each field of expertise can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-policy-for-uk-visas-under-tier-1-exceptional-talent

The application form must be submitted only and can be found here: www.visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/product/tier-1-exceptional-talent-endorsement

  1. Once you have been endorsed, you can apply online for the visa within 3 months from having received the endorsement letter (‘visa application’).

You can apply under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) if you are:

  • outside the UK and applying for permission to enter the UK under this sub-tier (initial application’); or
  • you are already in the UK in an immigration category that allows you to switch into this sub-category (‘extension application’):
    • any Tier 1
    • Tier 2
    • Tier 5, if you have been sponsored in the Government Authorised Exchange sub-category in an exchange scheme for sponsored researchers

Duration of the visa

With this visa you can choose how long you want to apply to (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 years) up to the maximum allowed, which is 5 years and 4 months if you apply from outside the UK or 5 years if you apply from within the UK.

You can then apply online for an extension for another 5 years if your endorsement has not been withdrawn and you can prove that you are currently working in your field of expertise.

Application Fees

For this visa you may pay a separate fee for the two stage process:

  • Endorsement application: £292
  • Visa application: £293 or £238 if you are from Turkey or Macedonia, plus £585 for any dependant you bring with you.

You will also have to pay the cost of the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

The cost of the extension of the visa is £585 or £530 if you are from Turkey or Macedonia.

Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) if you are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea.

This category allows the UK to retain the most able international graduates who have studied here. It also enhances the UK’s overall offer to international students.

Every year, the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) is limited to 2000 places.

Eligibility criteria

To apply for Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur), you must be endorsed by:

• a Higher Education Institution (HEI), if you got your qualification in the UK, or

• the Department for International Trade (DIT), if you got your qualification outside of the UK.

You need to apply for this visa within maximum 3 months from the date of your endorsement letter and you must attach it to your application.

Required points

You will need a total of at least 95 points to be able to apply:

  • 75 for attributes;
  • 10 points for English language skills and
  • 10 points for maintenance.

ATTRIBUTES for initial applications:

  • endorsement letter by HEI or DIT – 25 points;
  • you have been awarded a bachelor degree, master’s degree or PhD degree. These must be either UK degrees or oversees degrees confirmed by UK NARIC – 25 points;

www.naric.org.uk/visasandnationality

  • confirmation in the endorsement letter that you have a genuine and credible business idea on which you will spend the majority of your working time – 25 points.

Duration of the visa

Under the Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) you can stay in the UK for an initial period of one year. If your endorsing body agrees to sponsor you after this, you can apply again and you may be granted further leave for another year. You are only alloweda maximum of 2 years under this route.

Application Fees

The cost of this visa is:

  • if you are applying from outside the UK: £349 for yourself or £294 if you are a national of Turkey or Macedonia; and £349 for each dependant you bring with you;
  • if you are applying from the UK: £474 for yourself or £419 if you are a national of Turkey or Macedonia; and £474 for each dependant you bring with you.

You will also have to pay the cost of the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.