Changes To Tier 1 Of The Points Based System

17th March 2011

Tier 1 (General) will close from 6 April for in-country applications (and is already closed for out of country cases). UK Border Agency has now published a statement of policy in respect of the structure of Tier 1 from 6 April 2011.

Tier 1 will be divided into three sub-categories:-

Entrepreneurs – for those investing in the UK by setting up or taking over, and being actively involved in the running of a business.

Investors – for high net worth individuals making a substantial financial investment in the UK.

Exceptional talent – for persons of exceptional talent in the fields of Arts, Science and Humanities.


The Government is making a pitch to attract more high net worth individuals to come to the UK and invest in the UK economy. The investor route will be made more attractive by enabling investors to achieve settlement more quickly, depending on the level of investment, and to be able to spend longer periods outside the UK without losing their eligibility for settlement. In particular, those investing £10m or more will be eligible for settlement after two years, and those investing £5m or more may apply after three years.

Furthermore investors may spend up to a 180 days a year outside the UK, instead of the current 90, without losing their eligibility for settlement. The financial entry threshold (£1m held in a regulated financial institution and disposable in the UK) will not change. Nor will investors be required to meet the English Language or maintenance requirements that apply to all other points based system migrants. Those investing less than £5m will qualify for settlement after 5 years, however their absences may be up to 180 days in any twelve month period.


A new “Prospective Entrepreneur” visit visa will be introduced outside the points based system to enable business entrepreneurs to enter the UK to secure financial backing and to switch to a Tier 1 visa without leaving the UK.

Entrepreneurs may apply for accelerated settlement after three years if they have:

(a) created ten full time equivalent posts for resident workers for at least twelve months; OR

(b) the company has generated a total turnover of five million pounds over a three year period.

Otherwise entrepreneurs will become eligible after 5 years business activity under Tier 1.

Like investors entrepreneurs will also be permitted to be absent from the UK for up to 180 days in any twelve month period.

The initial financial threshold has been rendered more flexible. Entrepreneurs must have:

(a) access to at least £200k held in a regulated financial institution; OR

(b) have access to £50k held in a regulated financial institution which has been funded by:-

An FSA registered venture capitalist firm;
A UK Government department; or
An entrepreneurial seeding competition recognised by UK Trade and Investment.

Exceptional Talent

From 6 April 2011 the Government will introduce a new route for exceptionally talented migrants in the fields of science, arts and humanities who wish to work and eventually settle in the UK. There will be a limit of 1000 places in the first year of operation, to be reviewed after twelve months.

This route will be open to those who are internationally recognised as world leaders in their field as well as to those migrants who show “exceptional promise” and who are likely to become internationally recognised.

Migrants under the Tier 1 exceptional talent category will not need sponsorship but will require endorsement by a designated “Competent Body” who is acknowledged to be expert within the relevant field.

There will be no single definition of “exceptional talent” and it will be for the competent body to set the criteria to select those who will qualify for endorsement. The list of competent bodies will be available on the UKBA website in due course.

For the first year of operation the exceptional talent visa will only be available to those applying from outside the UK. In order to qualify for settlement the talented individual must reside in the UK for a five year period and be economically active in their field of expertise.

Readers will find further information including the full written ministerial statement on the changes at the below link:

Further information

For further information please contact us at: or on 020 7495 3003