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Business Visa Routes

Expert Immigration Solicitors

The UK’s visa offering to business-minded individuals continues to undergo significant change.  The old Tier 1 Entrepreneur, Intra-Company Transfer and Representative of an Overseas Business routes have all been closed, and substituted with Innovator/Start-Up, Senior/Specialist Worker, and UK Expansion Worker visas.

Contact us if you need advice on any of these new routes, or business immigration more generally.

The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur route was replaced by the Start-up visa and Tier 1 Entrepreneur was replaced by the Innovator visa.

Truth Legal can advise on the best options for your business needs, whether that’s one of the routes mentioned here, something not mentioned here, or a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

If you are looking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, a Global Business Mobility sponsor licence might be the way to go.  Launched in 2022, this relatively new route allows an overseas business to send up to five workers to the UK to commence operations here. 

The Immigration Team at Truth Legal is at the forefront of advising people on the most appropriate route, tailored to their business and personal needs.

Business Visitor visa

But first, it is worth remembering that individuals looking to come to the UK to undertake short-term general business activities may be able to come to the UK under a General Visitor visa.

General business activities include attending meetings, conferences, seminars and interviews.

Under this visa, businesspeople can also undertake what are called ‘intra-corporate activities’.  This involves an employee of an overseas company undertaking activities on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group.

Further information regarding Visitor visas is available here.

Tier 2 sponsorship as a CEO

Following the abolition of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa we are increasingly advising businesspersons around obtaining leave under Tier 2 as a CEO of a company they own.

This route involves using a UK-based contact to set up a UK branch of your overseas company.  The UK company can then apply for a Tier 2 General sponsor licence.  The UK company can then sponsor you as CEO.  Provided that you will be paid at least £159,600, then it is permissible for you to own shares in the UK company over 10% (and up to 100%).

If you are paid less than £159,600 then you are not permitted to own more than 10% of the UK company’s shares.

If you can pay at least £159,600 then you are also exempt from having to run a Resident labour market test in respect of the sponsored CEO position.

Individuals can apply for up to 6 years’ leave in total in the Tier 2 category and can be eligible for settlement after completing 5 years’ leave in total.

Start-Up

The Start-up route is for individuals looking to establish a new business for the first time in the UK.

Individuals will need to show they have a business which is ‘innovative’, ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’.  You will need to be endorsed by a trusted UK body before you can apply for a visa.   The endorsing bodies tend to be universities or business accelerators and incubators.

The visa is granted for two years.  At the end of those two years the individual is expected to switch into the Innovator category, or some other category.

Unlike with its Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur predecessor, Applicants do not need to secure any initial funding.

Innovator

The Innovator visa is aimed at more experienced businesspeople.  Applicants will normally need to have £50,000 to invest in their business.

Individuals will need to be endorsed by an endorsing body before they can apply for a visa.  The endorsing body will assess the business for innovation, viability and scalability.

Applicants are granted a three-year visa under this category which can be extended indefinitely.   This category leads to settlement.

If you are a businessperson and would like to discuss your visa options, book a consultation with us today.

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