By Teni Shahiean, of OTS Solicitors
Teni Shahiean is a founding partner at OTS Solicitors. She has a wealth of experience in business immigration law, commercial law and employment law and regularly advises businesses on Sponsor Licence acquisition and compliance. Teni is also regularly called on to provide expert opinion on television and in print media, both in the UK and internationally.
A Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is one of the most difficult to obtain. Not only do applicants have to have access to the required funds of £50,000 or £200,000, but they also need to pass the Genuine Entrepreneur Test.
In 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released a report that stated the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa needed to be reviewed. One of the main reasons cited was that some migrants were using the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa route to avoid the £2 million required to obtain a Tier 1 Investor Visa, which could lead to an accelerated settlement. They achieved this by investing in a small equity stake of an established company but did not actively participate in running the organisation.
MAC suggested some significant changes to the existing application system. These included:
- Appointing a panel of specialists with expertise in early-stage entrepreneurship, such as angel investors or venture capitalists;
- Recruiting specialist immigration officers qualified to review business plans;
- Working with other government departments such as UKTI or BIS, or outsourcing the assessment of business plans to a professional services firm.
As at the time of writing, these measures have not been implemented. However, in 2015, the Genuine Entrepreneur Test, has become significantly tougher.
OTS Solicitors is a Legal 500 recommended law firm. We have won numerous other awards for our immigration service, including a Global Excellence Award for the Most Trusted in Immigration Law. My team and I regularly support clients who are applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa to pass the Genuine Entrepreneur Test.
What is the Genuine Entrepreneur Test?
- How viable and credible your source of funds is
- How much market research you have done in your chosen sector and whether you have a viable business plan
- Your business experience and academic qualifications
- Your immigration history
The two main components of the Genuine Entrepreneur Test are your business plan and an interview with the Home Office.
The business plan
A key error those applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa make when presenting their business plan is simply submitting the version they have developed for investors and lenders. Although the financial forecast of the business is important, immigration officials are more concerned with whether you can meet the requirements of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. These include:
- you can and will establish, take over or become a director of one or more organisations in the Britain within six months of being granted entry to the UK under the Entrepreneur Visa route
- the required money (£200,000 or £50,000) is genuinely available to you and will remain so until it is invested in a start-up or existing company
- you do not intend to have any other job in the UK and will concentrate on working in your business
- you have enough money to support yourself and any dependents who may come with you, so you do not have to rely on public funds
- you meet the English language requirements
- your organisation has the prospect of providing full-time employment for two settled UK workers within the first three years
In addition, your business plan will need to show you have an in-depth knowledge of the industry, you have the educational requirements and the experience needed to create/grow a successful enterprise and that you understand the UK market.
The Home Office Interview
As part of the Genuine Entrepreneur Test, you may be required to attend an interview with an immigration official. You will need to be prepared as the interviewer will ask you many questions about your background, business knowledge and industry experience to help them decide on whether to grant you entry under the Entrepreneur route.
You are likely to be asked questions such as:
- who wrote your business plan?
- what is your sales and marketing strategy?
- how much market research have you done?
- do you have professional advisors in place?
- do you understand UK employment laws?
- What connections, both personal and business, do you have in the UK?
My team and I work extensively with Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa applicants to help them prepare for a Home Office interview. Not only do we provide a list of possible questions, but we also coach them through answers in mock interviews, so their answers are consistent and articulate on the day. Doing this means we have an extremely high success rate when it comes to having Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visas granted.
OTS success stories
Our client worked in the music industry in the Middle East. They applied for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa using and planned to invest in an existing business in London. As the targeted business was not in their field of expertise and given and our client’s limited experience in this industry, we focused on detailing and showcasing all of the transferable skills from their marketing and managerial roles in the business plan and CV to fulfil the requirements of the Genuine Entrepreneurship Test. Because of our thorough gathering of evidence, the Home Office did not require an interview with the client, and their Entrepreneur Visa was granted straight away.
Being exempted from a Genuine Entrepreneur Test interview is extremely rare. This example highlights the skills that our immigration solicitors possess to create the best business plan that will instil confidence in immigration officials.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is Legal 500 leading firm. By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Monday, 13 November, 2017