South African entrepreneurs: This could be your ticket to the UK

The UK has always been a great place to do business, with hundreds of start-ups and entrepreneurs flocking to London every year. The Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa allows anyone outside the EU to get in on this action through a capital investment into an existing or new UK business.

Woman standing with arms folded

Visa requirements

This visa allows applicants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to take advantage of investment opportunities in the UK and set up or run one or more UK business.

The minimum investment amount is £50,000 if you are extending your visa from within the UK and £200,000 if you are applying for a new visa from outside the UK. Depending on how much you invest, the conditions and eligibility requirements of this visa class change.

The funds you invest must be freely available to be transferred into a UK business.

You will also have to be able to support yourself during your stay and you will need to score 95 points as part of an immigration test specific to this visa class. Applicants also have to meet the English language requirements and be over the age of 16.

UK business partnerships are also a possibility allowing you to share the investment amount with one other applicant. Both individuals will need to meet the other visa requirements independently.


Your dependants (classified as your partner, children under 18 and some children over 18) can join you on your Tier 1 visa. If these dependants are from the EEA or Switzerland, they will not require a visa.

Application fees

Who you’re applying for Apply online or by post Apply in person outside the UK
You £1,204 £963
You (if you’re from Turkey or Macedonia) £1,149 £908
All dependants £1,204 each person £963 each person

Processing times

Times will always vary, but you should get an answer within three weeks of your application date. Note as well, you will only be allowed to apply three months before your date of departure.

Visa duration

This Tier 1 visa will allow you to stay in the UK for three years and four months. After this initial period, you may apply to extend your stay by another two years.

Once you’ve spent five consecutive years in the UK on the same visa, you’ll be able to apply for ILR.

Visa restrictions

You won’t be able to work outside of the business you are investing in. That means you won’t be able to be employed by another business if you are on a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa. You will also not be allowed to draw public funds like housing benefits or state pension.

The UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Investment Programme

Our sister company, Sable International, runs a programme that takes the guesswork out of applying for a UK entrepreneur visa. Through this programme, your skill as an investor is matched with a range of pre-qualified business investment opportunities made available by Sable International.

You’ll not only have the chance to make a profitable investment, but also migrate with your family to the UK.

If you’re thinking about making the UK your new home, chat to one of our visa experts by calling +27 (0) 21 657 2180 or pop us an email on


  • Shane Hearn

    I was reading through the legislation and have a question. As part of the 50 000 pounds section it mentions that if you have made a 50 0000 investment then you can apply for a entrepreneurial visa. Can this be done if you are outside the uk and no visa is currently held. EG I make an investment for 50 000 then apply for a visa after i have made the investment as apposed to have an investment of 200 000 pounds

    • 1st Contact

      Hi Shane, the £50 000 mentioned would relate to an extension application and not an initial investment amount.