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UK Business Visa for Nigerians

The UK has a range of business visas available for Nigerian citizens wishing to expand a business into, or establish a business in, the UK.

IAS can assist you with the processing of applying for a UK business visa, from helping you find the right one for you to assisting with the logistics of your move to the UK. Call us on +44 (0) 3316300929 if you’re in the UK or +23413438882 if you’re in Nigeria. Or, contact us online.

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    Are You Planning on Conducting Business in the UK?

    Our professional immigration lawyers are experts in the field of business immigration. From entrepreneurs wishing to start their own business or managers and executives looking to start operations in the UK, we can help.

    Let IAS help you achieve your business immigration goals today.

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    Overview of UK Business Visas

    There are a range of visas that will allow you to work, start a business or conduct business in the UK.

    The main business visas that the UK offers are as follows:

    • Innovator Founder visa
    • Global Business Mobility visas, which include the following:
      • Senior or Specialist Worker visa
      • Graduate Trainee visa
      • Secondment Worker visa
      • Service Supplier visa
      • UK Expansion Worker visa
    • Business Visitor visa

    Note that the Start-up visa route closed to new applicants in July 2023.

    Millennium bridge in London

    Innovator Founder Visa

    The Innovator Founder visa (previously known as the Innovator visa) is the main visa for Nigerian entrepreneurs who wish to set up a new business in the UK.

    In order to be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria:

    • You’re at least 18 years old
    • You must be willing to set up a new and innovative business in the UK that is unlike anything else in the market
    • Your business idea must be endorsed by an eligible approving body
    • You can read, write, speak and understand English to the minimum level
    • You have enough money to support yourself in the UK (normally £1,270)

    Once in the UK, you will be able to set up your business and other businesses, as well as take on additional work (as long as it meets the ‘skilled work’ eligibility criteria).

    You can stay in the UK for up to 3 years with this visa, though this can be extended an unlimited number of times.

    One significant benefit of the Innovator Founder visa is that you’ll be eligible to apply for permanent settlement in the UK through indefinite leave to remain after 3 years.

    Global Business Mobility Visas

    Overview

    Global Business Mobility visas are a group of visas specifically designed to help overseas businesses expand into the UK. These visas enable applicants to either establish a presence in the UK or to transfer staff to the UK to work in various capacities.

    All Global Business Mobility visas require you to have a valid certificate of sponsorship from an eligible Home Office-approved sponsor based in the UK.

    There are five visas in the Global Business Mobility category, which are all outlined in the following subsections.

    Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

    The Senior or Specialist Worker visa is for employees who will be transferred to a subsidiary or UK-based branch of their current employer.

    This visa is intended to help businesses expand their operations in the UK by helping to facilitate senior or specialist staff to manage growth.

    To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria. You must:

    • Be an employee of a business that’s a Home Office-approved sponsor
    • Have been working for your employer outside the UK for at least 12 months, unless you earn £73,900 a year or more
    • Work an eligible job with an appropriate occupation code
    • Be paid at least £45,800 or the ‘going rate’ for your job, whichever is higher

    You will be able to stay in the UK for either 5 years or the period of time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.

    Graduate Trainee Visa

    The Graduate Trainee visa is for employees on a graduate training programme for a managerial or specialist role to work in their employer’s UK branch.

    To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria. You must:

    • Be an employee of a business that’s a Home Office-approved sponsor
    • Have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least 3 months prior to the date of application
    • Work an eligible job with an appropriate occupation code
    • Be paid at least £24,220 a year

    You will be able to stay in the UK for either 12 months or the period of time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.

    Secondment Worker Visa

    The Secondment Worker visa is for employees being sent to the UK in order to carry out high-value contract work for a different organisation than the one that they normally work for.

    To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria. You must:

    • Be an employee of an overseas organisation that has a high-value contract with your UK-based, Home Office-approved sponsor
    • Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months prior to the date of application
    • Work an eligible job with an appropriate occupation code

    You will be able to stay in the UK for either 12 months or the period of time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.

    Service Supplier Visa

    The Service Supplier visa is for individuals who have a contract to provide services for a UK-based company, either as an employee for a foreign company or as a self-employed individual.

    To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria. You must:

    • Be an employee of an overseas business, or an overseas self-employed service provider
    • Be providing a service to a UK business under a contract covered by a valid international trade agreement
    • Work in an eligible job, unless one of the exemptions applies to you
    • Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months outside the UK, or have at least 12 months’ professional experience

    You will be able to stay in the UK for whichever is the shortest of the following:

    • 6 months or 12 months, depending on the trade agreement
    • The period of time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days.

    UK Expansion Worker Visa

    The UK Expansion Worker visa allows senior managers or specialist employees to set up a UK branch of their overseas business that has not started trading in the UK yet.

    To be eligible for this visa, you must meet the following criteria. You must:

    • Have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least 12 months unless:
      • You earn over £73,900
      • You’re a Japanese citizen doing work for a Japanese company that is expanding to the UK
      • You’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident doing work for an Australian company that is expanding to the UK
    • Work an eligible job with an appropriate occupation code
    • Be paid at least £45,800 per year or the ‘going rate’ for your job

    You will be able to stay in the UK for either 12 months or the period of time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.

    If you're interested in establishing your business in the UK, we can assist in the processing of your UK business visa application. Contact Us

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      Business Visitor Visa

      If you’re a Nigerian looking to visit the UK on a short-term basis to conduct certain business activities, you can apply for a Business Visitor visa.

      This is a type of UK Visitor visa that allows its holders to engage in business within the UK.

      Permitted business activities under this visa include the following:

      • Attending interviews, meetings, conferences and seminars
      • Negotiating and signing deals and contracts
      • Attending trade fairs to promote your business
      • Receiving work-related training if you’re employed overseas and the training is not available in your home country
      • Giving a one-off or short series of talks (only if they’re not for profit or for a commercial event)
      • Carrying out site visits and inspections
      • Overseeing the delivery of goods and services provided by a UK company to your overseas business
      • Delivering training or sharing knowledge on internal projects with UK employees of your overseas employer

      Note that you must meet all of the normal eligibility for a Standard Visitor visa in order to be eligible for this visa.

      You will be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months on this visa.

      How Can I Apply for a Business Visa?

      In most cases, you will have to apply for a UK Business visa online through the gov.uk website.

      It’s important that you ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria for your chosen visa before you start the application process. For example, if you’re applying for the Innovator Founder visa, you must ensure that your business idea has already been endorsed by an approving body.

      Similarly, if you’re applying for a Global Business Mobility visa, you must ensure that you have a valid certificate of sponsorship before applying.

      When you apply online, you’ll have to fill in the online form with details about yourself, the kind of work you intend to carry out in the UK and about your employer (if applicable).

      You’ll also have to upload a range of supporting documentation to help the Home Office assess your immigration case.

      You may also have to attend an appointment at a visa application centre in order to give your biometrics information. There are three visa application centres located in Nigeria:

      • Abuja
      • Lagos Ikeja
      • Lagos Victoria Island.

      What Are the Required Documents?

      The specific documents you will need to provide will vary depending on what your chosen visa is.

      However, generally speaking, you may be expected to include some of the following documents listed here:

      • A valid passport or travel document
      • Your job details and/or its occupation code
      • Details of your salary
      • Your certificate of sponsorship reference number
      • The name of your employer and their sponsor licence number
      • Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK
      • Proof that you meet the English language requirement
      • An endorsement letter for your prospective business in the UK
      • Proof of your relationship with your partner and children, if they’re applying with you

      Also note that all Nigerian applicants will have to provide evidence of a recent tuberculosis test before travelling to the UK.

      If your documents are not in English, you will also have to provide a certified translation along with your documents when applying.

      What Are the Fees and Processing Times?

      Below are application fees for the Business visas listed on this page:

      Visa Type Application Fee (if applying from outside the UK) Application Fee (if applying from inside the UK)
      Innovator Founder £1,036 £1,292
      Senior or Specialist Worker (up to 3 years) £625 £719
      Senior or Specialist Worker (over 3 years) £1,235 £1,423
      All other Global Business Mobility visas £259 £259
      Business Visitor £100 N/A

      Note that if you’re planning to stay in the UK long-term, you will also have to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge. This will be £624 for every year you’ll be in the UK.

      How long your visa application will take will depend on where you’re applying from, how complex your case is, and how busy the UK immigration service is when you apply.

      However, applications will typically take up to 3 weeks if applying from outside the UK, and up to 8 weeks if applying from inside the UK.

      If you're a Nigerian looking to work in, or expand into the UK, IAS can help. Contact Us

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        How Can IAS Help?

        UK Business visas represent a valuable opportunity for Nigerian businesses and individuals to start branching out and conducting business in the UK.

        If you are a Nigerian employee, business owner or self-employed entrepreneur looking to work in, or expand into, the UK, IAS can help.

        Our immigration specialists work in both the UK and Nigeria to help businesses expand their reach internationally and explore new opportunities. Whatever your immigration needs are, we have the tools to help.

        Whether you need assistance in setting up a new, innovative business in the UK, are looking to open a new branch of your company in the UK, or just need to talk one-on-one to an immigration adviser about your options, we can help.

        We have offices in both the UK and in Lagos. Call us on +44 (0) 3316300929 if you’re in the UK or +23413438882 if you’re in Nigeria. You can also contact us online.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Yes. Most business visas will allow you to bring your spouse, partner or dependent children with you as your dependent family members.

                  You will have to prove that your relationship with your family members is genuine when you apply. You may also need to meet additional eligibility criteria if you wish to bring a child who is 16 or older.

                  Your family members must also prove that they have enough money to support themselves in the UK. These figures are the following:

                  • £285 for your partner
                  • £315 for one child
                  • £200 for each additional child

                  Only the Business Visitor visa does not allow you to bring family members along as your dependents. If you wish to come to the UK on this visa, each of your family members must apply for a separate Visitor visa themselves.

                  The Innovator Founder visa is the only Business visa that will allow you to settle in the UK on a permanent basis.

                  The Senior or Specialist Worker visa will allow you to stay in the UK for a maximum of either:

                  • 5 years in any 6 year period if you’re paid less than £73,900 a year
                  • 9 years in any 10 year period if you’re paid £73,900 a year or more

                  Otherwise, Business visas will generally require you to return to your home country after a certain period of time.

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