Foreign Entrepreneurs In The UK

What the New Immigration Laws Mean To Foreign

Starting a company in the UK is easy even for foreigners. The economy is strong and thriving, and it needs a small business to continue to grow. If it is provided by a foreigner, then it’ll be more than welcome.

Moreover, business grants and funding are available to foreign entrepreneurs.

For the past years, the number of entrepreneur visas granted to foreigners increased almost six-fold. But 2013 showed a slight decline. This have something to do with the Genuine Entrepreneur Test that was introduced in January 2013. Apparently, it’s become strict and comes with additional requirements that applicants must provide.

According to Jill Turner of the law firm Pinsent Masons, “The entrepreneur test is posing problems for those unprepared for the comprehensive approach employed by the Home Office. Many law firms are currently spending considerable amount of time preparing applicants in advance of these tests. Those who do not seek legal advice “often find they are underprepared and see their applications rejected”.

So whatever convenience foreign entrepreneurs enjoyed in the past is no longer available for other non-EU nationalities who want to obtain entrepreneur visas in the UK. Under the new immigration laws they would have to:

Present A Business Plan

Basically, the law wants to ensure that any foreign business person would be able to really start a business in the UK once they are granted entry. One of the ways they can demonstrate a genuine intention is to submit a comprehensive business plan.

Provide evidence of access to at least £200000 in investments funds

An applicant can rely on their own finances to start a business. However, if he has only held the funds for less than 90 days before he applied for an entrepreneur visa, he must provide evidence of the fund’s third-party source.

Open a UK-regulated investment account

Tier 1 investors need to open an investment account before they can apply for a visa. This move is done to ensure that UK banks can perform due diligence checks before they are cleared for entry in the UK.

On top of these, they need to attend interviews and undergo English language tests.

Other changes to the UK’s immigration rules that will affect foreign entrepreneurs are:

Higher salary to be paid

By 6 April 2015, employees with Tier 2 work visa must be paid a higher minimum salary level which will have an impact on a business’ overhead.

Health Surcharge

For each year of visa validity, health surcharge is expected to be at £200. This is applicable for non-EEA nationals with Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 4 and Tier 5 visa with a duration of more than 6 months.

Since the new immigration rules will have an impact on a foreign entrepreneurs chances of setting up a business in the UK, it is best for non-UK nationalities to plan and prepare prior to their visa application.

  • They must be ready with a business plan, as this has now become mandatory.
  • They must be able to present valid proof of where their funds come from, with consideration to the rules presented above.
  • They must meet the criteria of a “genuine” business person all throughout their stay in the UK.

To ensure that problems are avoided, it is best for applicants to contact their immigration professionals and banks for more information on the requirements, especially the required evidence.


Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

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