Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa – Sell The Sizzle Not The Steak

Creation of a business plan

By Teni Shahiean

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.

At OTS, we take enormous pleasure in the success of our clients.  Obtaining a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa can be a complex process with many hurdles to overcome.  However, our team has a strong track record in advising clients on both and immigration and commercial law basis to ensure their application is granted.  One of the most important elements of how we assist clients is proving to Home Office officials that the skills an applicant possesses are transferable to the market sector they plan to invest their funds into, if they have no previous industry experience.

OTS Solicitors is a Legal 500 recommended law firm based in London.  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 Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa applicants to obtain their visa, an extension and ultimately, Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa business plan – illustrating how skills can be transferred

Many Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa applicants, especially those planning to invest and act as a director in an existing business, may well be nervous that they will be unable to convince immigration officials that the business skills they have obtained in other sectors are transferrable.

It is important not to underestimate the high threshold placed on the Genuine Entrepreneur Test, of which the submission of a business plan constitutes a major part.  In 2015, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), released a report which highlighted concerns about the quality of applicants coming into the UK on the Entrepreneur Visa route.  Although the investigation found that many smart businesses with enormous potential for growth were being set up, it also discovered a flux of low-quality ventures being established.  The report found:

“…some migrants are using the entrepreneur route as a low-cost alternative to the Tier 1 (investor) route, which requires an investment of £2 million. This approach involves migrants investing into a business in return for a small equity stake, but with only a limited role in the running of the business.”

The government took on this feedback and increased the scrutiny placed on business plans being submitted by Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa applicants.  The Home Office now demands to see that those investing their £200,000 in an established company take on an active directorship role and are fully committed to growing the business.

It is imperative to bear this in mind when applying for entry clearance via the entrepreneur route.  Knowing the goal of Home Office officials makes it easier to construct your application and business plan, to provide the best chance of success.

Examples of how you can ensure your business plan can persuade immigration officials that your skills you have can be transferred to a new sector include:

  • Make sure you list all the skills you have gained throughout your professional life and then clearly illustrate how they will allow you to meet the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa requirements.  These include creating two full-time positions for settled UK persons within two years of starting with the organisation.
  • If you have significant business contacts within the sector you are investing your time and money in, make sure you mention them and again demonstrate how having these contacts will ensure you can meet the visa requirements.

Sell the sizzle not the steak

Any good salesperson knows the classic saying “sell the sizzle, not the steak”.  This simply means when you are trying to persuade someone to do something you want (or buy something you are selling) you need to show them the benefits, not the features.  For example, you may have 15 years of experience in marketing and sales and can create incredibly accurate sales forecasts.  But, this is unlikely to convince the immigration official (who may have very little commercial acumen) who is reading your business plan that you can transfer these skills if you are entering an unfamiliar industry and making the leap from manager to director.  Therefore, you need to show specifically how the skills you have can transfer into the market sector you are entering and can drive the company forward to meet the Tier 1 Entrepreneur requirements.  Taking the skill of accurate forecasting as an example, being able to demonstrate through a forecast and sales plan that an increase in turnover, achieved by implementing certain strategies (which you have listed) will lead to the creation of two full-time account manager positions within 24 months of you joining the organisation.

Success Story

Our client had been to the UK on various occasions as a standard visitor, a Tier-4 student and business visitor. They have a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and finance from a prestigious London university. They had also previously worked in finance and sales in a senior position.  

The client decided to invest £200,000 in the UK through a Residential Elderly Care home by and wished to apply for a Tier-1 Entrepreneur Visa.  We advised them on the importance of providing a detailed business plan and on the requirements of the Home Office’s Genuine Entrepreneur Test.  Detailed legal representations were drafted, and the application was fully prepared for a premium appointment for the client.  We also submitted their CV, which detailed that they had significant experience in finance and marketing and, even though significant experience in the care industry was lacking, our client was an experienced businessperson and had access to many contacts who would support them with their entrepreneurial venture.  By way of our detailed legal representations, we submitted that our client had fully transferable skills within the business they proposed to invest in.

Consequently, our client was granted a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa within five days and is now in the UK running their new venture.

In summary

Our team of smart, business-driven solicitors understand precisely how to draft your Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa application to ensure it has the ability to persuade Home Office officials that your skills are transferable, and you can achieve the visa requirements in the designated time-frame.

By instructing our London-based Immigration Solicitors, you can be assured that your business plan and application is of the highest standard.

To find out how we can help you successfully apply for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, please call us on 0207 936 9960.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is a 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.  

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