Contact us

Book consultation

Visit our office

Book consultation

Contact our team to find out if we can help.

Book a free call to discuss your matter with us. Please leave your details and we will call you. We would also ask you to briefly describe your matter in the notes section, for the assessment before the call.

Please kindly note, we'll try to call you within the one hour slot you book, however, sometimes we'll have to reschedule the call. You call will last 15 minutes.

Please answer mandatory questions below.

    Contact Us

    Corporate services

    Individual services

    UK Visa Options for Entrepreneurs

    The UK attracts entrepreneurs, professionals and talent from all over the world due to its developed market, financial opportunities and cultural diversity. The variety of visa categories allows foreign professionals and entrepreneurs to legalize doing business, working and living in the country. In this article we will look at the key visa categories that may be of interest for doing business in the UK.

    Innovator Founder Visa

    The Founder Innovator Visa is a pathway designed specifically for entrepreneurs who are looking to set up a business in the United Kingdom. This visa category is for individuals with a new and innovative business idea that is likely to grow and succeed in the UK market. However, this visa category will not be suitable for every business idea. The applicant and his or her business must meet certain criteria.

    Business Idea Criteria.

    • Novelty: The business idea must be original and not simply an extension of existing businesses or concepts already operating in the UK.
    • Innovativeness: The idea must present something new or offer a significant improvement to existing products, services or business models.
    • Growth potential: The business in question must show a strong likelihood of creating jobs and expanding within both domestic and global markets.

    Securing this visa category comes with its hurdles. For instance, those applying for the Innovator Founder visa need to initially get their business or idea endorsed by one of the UK Home Office’s four recognized endorsing bodies:

    • UK Endorsing Services;
    • Innovator International;
    • Envestors Limited; or
    • Global Entrepreneurs Program (GEP).

    Once endorsed, they can proceed to apply for the visa as an innovative business founder. A significant obstacle is that not just any business will qualify; it must bring something novel and innovative to the UK market. This poses a problem for entrepreneurs who may wish to start a business like a restaurant in the UK, as the concept may not be considered innovative if similar offerings already exist.

    The specific criteria for this visa include:

    • A minimum investment of £50,000 in the business, which must be actively utilized for its growth;
    • The customer base of the company should have grown at least twofold in the past three years, surpassing the average customer count of comparable UK businesses;
    • The company must engage in substantial research and development activities and seek intellectual property protection in the UK;
    • The business should have generated at least £1 million in gross revenue in the most recent fiscal year;
    • Alternatively, the business should have earned a minimum of £500,000 in gross revenue in the last fiscal year, with at least £100,000 from overseas exports;
    • The creation of a minimum of ten full-time positions for settled workers;
    • Or, the creation of at least five full-time equivalent positions for settled workers, each with an average salary of at least £25,000 per annum (before taxes and excluding any expenses).

    While the initial investment criterion is achievable by most entrepreneurs within three years, the other requirements are more challenging. Those planning a long-term stay in the UK should consider these factors when choosing their application pathway. If the likelihood of meeting the settlement criteria is low, exploring alternative visa options may be advisable.

    Self-Sponsored Qualified Worker Visa

    One such alternative is the Self-Sponsored Skilled Worker Visa, which allows entrepreneurs to establish a company in the UK and secure a work visa independently. This route is ideal for those who aim to both manage and work within their business. The general prerequisites include setting up a UK-based company and obtaining a sponsorship licence for it.

    In short, the process looks like this:

    How do I apply for a sponsorship licence for skilled workers?

    In order for a company to sponsor work visas, it must go through the sponsor licence process. Requirements include:

    • The ability to prove that the company is legally operating in the UK.
    • Having a human resources and HR system in place to track visa compliance.
    • Providing evidence that the company can and will fulfill its sponsorship obligations.

    From April 4, 2024, the minimum salary threshold for sponsoring a foreign worker has been raised by almost 50%! Previously it was £26,200, it is now £38,700. This increase will make it impossible to sponsor many positions across a variety of industries, and start-ups in particular will find it difficult to meet the new salary thresholds.

    Expansion Worker visa

    The Expansion Worker visa allows managers and employees of international companies wishing to expand their business in the UK to relocate to manage a new UK office.

    The main requirements are:

    • Work Experience: The applicant must have proven experience in a senior management position in a company that is looking to expand its operations in the UK.
    • Proof of business: Evidence must be provided that the company overseas is established and successfully operating.
    • Relevance to role and qualifications: The applicant must fit the defined roles within the company and be qualified to carry out their duties.
    • In addition, the company must prove that it has realistic plans and the ability to maintain a new office in the UK.

    The Expansion Worker visa is part of a wider category of business visas that allows companies to expand their international operations, creating new jobs and contributing to economic growth in the UK.

    Global Talent Visa

    The Global Talent visa is designed for outstanding professionals in the fields of science, engineering, humanities, medicine, arts and technology. This visa is suitable for those who have already proven their exceptional abilities or exceptional talent.

    Criteria for obtaining it:

    • Successful completion of a certification from an organization authorized to issue this type of certification (such as the Royal Society or Arts Council England).
    • Proof of professional achievement.
    • The opportunity to work freely in the UK, contributing to the development of your field.

    This type of visa is very popular, and here’s why:

    • Flexibility. Unlike other work visas, the Global Talent visa does not require a job offer in the UK, giving applicants the freedom to seek employment or work for themselves after arrival.
    • Endorsement from recognized organizations. Applicants must obtain endorsement from recognized organizations, but are not required to go through a lengthy employer sponsorship process.
    • Long-term perspective.The visa provides the opportunity to apply for permanent residency after a certain period, making it attractive to those planning a long-term stay.
    • Exceptional talents and leaders. The visa focuses on outstanding professionals who have already proven their abilities, making it easier to prove their qualifications.

    These factors make the Global Talent visa more accessible to talented professionals seeking to contribute to the scientific, cultural and technological development of the UK.

    Why Sterling Law?

    The attractiveness of the UK as a place to live and work is increasing every day, but the government is also introducing more and more restrictions and requirements. We, in turn, closely monitor all changes and offer our assistance in overcoming all possible obstacles.
    Sterling Law specializes in providing legal services related to immigration and visas in the UK for entrepreneurs, and not only.

    Advantages of working with us:

    • Extensive experience in the field of UK immigration law. We have been working in this field for many years and know all aspects and nuances of the process of obtaining any visas. Our experience helps us to efficiently solve the most complex immigration issues and provide our clients with the best solutions.
    • We pay special attention to each client. We offer a personalized approach to each case and strive to understand and address our clients’ individual needs and goals. We appreciate the trust our clients place in us and always strive to exceed their expectations.
    • We offer full support of the visa process from start to finish. We provide assistance in gathering all the necessary documents and creating business plans, portfolios, family visas and any other visa applications
    • We also offer assistance in obtaining a sponsorship licence if you are planning to start your own business or find a job in the UK. Our team of experts can prepare and submit all the necessary documents to successfully obtain this licence.
    • In addition, we provide advice and support in all matters related to visa compliance and status maintenance. We will help you understand the complex rules and procedures and provide you with all the necessary guidance and solutions.
    • Our team will also represent your interests before government agencies at all levels. We have experience of working with various authorities and know how to most effectively pursue practical issues and protect our clients’ interests.

    We understand that the process of obtaining a visa to do business in the UK can be complex and confusing. Contacting our law firm can help entrepreneurs minimize the risks and speed up the process of obtaining the right visa so that they can focus more fully on the growth and development of their business. We guarantee a high level of skill and professionalism in all aspects of our work.

    Recent news

    Our team

    48 legal professionals

    Successful cases