If you are reading this, chances are that you are an entrepreneur or aspiring to be an entrepreneur. In either case you’d be well aware of the uncertainties one face in the startup world. And to top that, foreign entrepreneurs have to go through the legalities of obtaining the right visa to keep working as an entrepreneur.

I opted for a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa to set up a business in the UK. The visa lasted for an year, at which point I got it extended for a further one year. Then I had to make an application to switch to the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. Unlike the previous applications I made to the home office, this one was much more comprehensive in nature. I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I believed that I am a genuine entrepreneur, with a genuine business plan, and hence I had nothing to worry about. Little did I know that the intricacies of the application demand a certain degree of attention.

Being a genuine entrepreneur, or having a genuine intent to set up a business is the primary requirement. If you have a doubt there, then this blog is not for you. But the requirements of the application are such that you have to be very careful while filling up the application form, supplying the relevant documents, and the presentation of it all.

Back to my story, I applied for the entrepreneur visa assuming it to be just another formality. Result- my application was refused as I didn’t supply all the required documents. Although I was pretty sure that the documents I supplied are enough a proof of the investment I made, and the funds I had access to. But a rule’s a rule, and I learnt it the hard way. I then made another application. This time I went through the policy guidance bit by bit, then I went through the relevant immigration rules, and finally the Genuine Entrepreneur Test.

As a result I developed a framework to get together a strong application, which could be deemed as complete in line with the policy guidance, immigration rules, and the genuine entrepreneur test. And as I anticipated, the application was successful and I am currently working on my business as a Tier 1 Entrepreneur high-skilled migrant.

The key is to divide the application into five sections-

  • Proving that a company has been set-up with the applicant being its director. Or the applicant has registered as self-employed with HMRC. There are different types of evidences to be provided to prove this.
  • Showing that the investment has been made into a company of which the applicant is a director or self employed sole proprietor. This one is a bit tricky. There are three different ways by which you can make the investment- Direct Cash Investment, Investment by shares, Director’s Loan. You’d need ‘Audited or Unaudited financial accounts’ of your company for each of the mentioned ways.
  • Showing that the applicant has access to required amount of investment funds. In the case of switching to Tier Entrepreneur Visa, these funds must be held in the applicant’s UK bank account for a consecutive 90-day period. Again one has to pre-plan this as most of us now do not receive paper statements from our banks. The Home Office requires either originals paper statements issued by the bank, or electronic statement with a stamp of the bank on every page. Lloyds bank happily put the stamp on, whereas Santander refuses to stamp any bank statements. So it is worthwhile to check with your bank in advance. The funds must be in a regulated bank, and should be readily disposable in the UK.
  • English Language Proficiency- If you have studied a degree level course in the UK, you do not need to supply any test scores. For people switching from Graduate Entrepreneur Visa to Entrepreneur Visa, this requirement is automatically fulfilled.
  • Maintenance Funds– If you are residing in the UK, you have to provide the evidence that you’ve held a minimum of £945 in your personal account (s) for a continuous period of 90 days. This amount should be over and above the the investment funds. You can use a foreign bank statement for this as long as the bank account is in your name, and the bank isn’t listed in the blacklisted list of banks by Home Office.

In my opinion, you should be trying to facilitate the scrutiny of your application by the Home Office caseworkers as much as possible. And hence the presentation of the application is very important.

With all this being said I wish you all the very best for your application and the amazing businesses you’re going to set up. You can email me at vikas@docyoumentary.co.uk if you’d like to share your story.

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