By Yash Dubal, Director, A Y & J Solicitors
Currently, businesses wishing to expand into the UK have few options, each of which has drawbacks. The main routes are the UK Sole Representative visa, the Innovator visa and the Investor visa.
The majority shareholders are unable to apply for Sole Representative visas; Innovator visas only apply to those with innovative businesses, and Investor visas are only allocated to those with £2m to invest. These limitations preclude a vast number of smaller business owners.
But what if I told you there was another way that has been a closely guarded secret until now?
Self-sponsorship is an innovative idea that hardly anyone knows but can be the perfect solution for entrepreneurs who are hampered from taking the better-known routes to international expansion in the UK.
Self-sponsorship is also simple. If you have a genuine intention to open a business in the UK and want to run an active trading company in the UK, you can follow this route. It is open to anyone who has experience in the field they wish to run their business and enough money to fund their expansion. Applicants must also be proficient in English to a level set by the UK government.
There are no strict rules on the type of business that can be run in the UK under the scheme, and you can own 100% shares of your UK company and be the director.
So how does self-sponsorship work?
It is an easy three-stage process.
Stage one is to establish a UK company and then apply for a sponsor licence, which allows that company to sponsor an overseas worker on a Skilled Worker visa. That skilled worker will be you. In effect, you will be sponsoring yourself to come and work in your own company. The process is entirely legal and within the rules.
Overseas nationals are legally allowed to set up companies in the UK. However, this should be done with the aid of a registered UK accountant, as certain stipulations must be adhered to.
Once the UK company is established, the next stage is to apply to the UK Home Office for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence. There are certain requirements a company must fulfil in order to be successful; for example, the company must have the necessary policy and procedures in place. For this reason, the self-sponsorship process should be embarked upon under the guidance and advice of a UK legal expert. A Y & J Solicitors pioneer this process and offer the most comprehensive expertise.
Once your UK company has successfully been granted a Sponsor licence, you can proceed to the final stage of the process: employing yourself through your own company and applying for a skilled worker visa, using the job offer as the basis for the visa application. In order to hold a Skilled Worker visa, you, and the role you are taking, must meet certain criteria, including English language proficiency, salary and level of education. As long as you meet these requirements, you will be able to come and work in your UK company and enjoy the benefits of the UK’s booming economy.
After five years, you may also qualify for residency and, after six, for citizenship. You can bring over your spouses and children under 18.