High-Value Migrant Tier 1 Visas
If you are a foreign national wanting to work in the UK but you are subject to immigration control, you must first apply for a UK workers visa. The UK Border Agency applies a points-based system in conjunction with other category-specific requirements under the Immigration Rules.
Those who are highly skilled and exceptionally talented workers, or investors and entrepreneurs, can apply to enter or remain in the UK without needing a job offer, although in most cases the points-based assessment still applies. Tier 1 of this system for high-value migrants contains 5 categories:
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa – you can apply under this category if you are internationally recognised as a world leader or potential world-leading talent in the fields of science and the arts. Every application for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa must be endorsed by a designated competent body, eg, arts council, and there is an annual limit (1,000 endorsements permitted for 2013-2014).
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa – you can apply under this category if you want to set up or take over, and be actively involved in running a business or businesses in the UK. For your application for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa to be successful you must score a total of 95 points and meet all the other requirements under the Immigration Rules. You can score points by having access to not less than £200,000, or £50,000 from a listed source (25 points).
Tier 1 Investor Visa – you can apply under this category if you want to make a substantial financial investment in the UK. This category is designed to permit high net-worth individuals to make substantial financial investment here. You do not need a job offer or sponsor to apply in this category. Your application will be based on your ability to invest a minimum of £1 million in the UK and a total score of 75 points. Unlike most other applicants under the points-based system you will not need to meet the English language requirement, nor show that you have maintenance funds to support yourself.
Tier 1 General Visa – you can apply for a Tier 1 General visa if you are a highly skilled worker wanting to look for work or self-employment and business opportunities in the UK without a sponsor. This category is now closed to applicants outside the UK and to migrants who are already here in most other immigration categories. However, there are limited circumstances where you may still be able to extend your stay in the UK under Tier 1 (General) of the points-based system as a highly skilled migrant, a self-employed lawyer, a writer, composer or artist, or if you are part of the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). Your total point score must be 95 points (100 for any other eligible category) based on your age, qualifications, previous earnings, UK experience, English language ability and maintenance funds.
Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa – this category allows non-European MBA and other graduates (and overseas graduates who have been identified by UK Trade Investment (UKTI) as elite global graduate entrepreneurs) to extend their stay after graduation to establish one or more businesses in the UK. There is an annual limit (2,000 places for 2013-2014). To apply under this category you must score a total of 95 points, which in part must be achieved by a letter of endorsement from a UK higher education institution or UKTI.
If you currently have permission to stay in the UK under a different immigration category you may be able to switch to or from a Tier 1 category from inside the UK. An application for a high-value migrant Tier 1 visa can be complex and using the services of an immigration expert is highly recommended.