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Visa for Self Sponsorship in the UK

If you intend to start a business or work in the UK without a sponsor, you must go through the self-sponsorship route to enter the country. There is no self sponsorship visa but there are routes that would allow you to sponsor yourself to the UK.

To inquire further about the self-sponsorship visa and how to work in the UK, you should contact our immigration lawyers today. Call us at (+44) 333 4149244, or reach us online.


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    Benefits of Choosing IAS For Your Work Visa

    Our team of immigration lawyers can provide the right support to ensure you secure a work visa for yourself or your employees.


    Your immigration lawyer will consider your case and offer bespoke advice, and they will advise you on the optimum route to take to achieve your desired result.

    By working with IAS for your or your employee’s work visa, you make sure that you have an expert eye and hands on your case to boost your chances of success.

    We ensure you are applying for the most suitable work visa to boost your chances of success.

    We provide advice on the appropriate documentary evidence required to support your case.

    You get a personalised approach from a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer

    You work with you and liaise with the Home Office on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome.

    Regardless of what your personal immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    Overview of the UK Self-Sponsorship Visa

    Currently, the UK doesn’t offer a “self-sponsorship visa.” However, it provides three different means to work in the UK while sponsoring yourself. These routes include the skilled worker, Innovator, and Start-up Visa. The self-sponsorship visas are for foreigners who want to start or invest in another UK business.

    All three UK visas work differently and have separate eligibility criteria. For instance, the skilled worker permit usually requires that you work for a UK company. However, in this case, you must register your proposed business and get a sponsor licence. Through your sponsor licence application, you will obtain the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), allowing you to run your own company. However, for self-sponsorship, it is not so straightforward.

    In the case of the UK Start-up Visa, it has to be a new business idea, and you should have received an endorsement from an authorised body in the UK. The endorsement body can either be a UK higher education institution or a business organisation that previously supported UK entrepreneurs.

    Lastly, one of the requirements of the Innovator Visa is that you should have at least £50,000 to invest in a new great business idea. Alongside this, you should apply for the Innovator Visa at most three months before you plan to travel. Generally, Irish citizens don’t need any of the three self-sponsorship visa options or the EU Settlement Scheme to work in the UK. Find out the explicit details of each visa and how they work next.

    The Skilled Worker Visa Route

    The skilled worker permit allows you to stay in the UK while working for an approved UK company. Let’s see how the skilled worker visa works.

    How Does the UK Skilled Worker Visa Work for Self-sponsorship?

    The steps to apply for the skilled worker permit vary depending on whether you plan to own a UK business. Typically, if you want to qualify for the skilled worker visa, you must:

    • Work for a UK company approved by the Home Office.
    • Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship from the UK company.
    • Earn at least the minimum wage in your field.

    However, it is a bit different when planning to have a UK business or be self-employed in the UK. Before applying for a skilled worker permit, your partner (or anyone you know who is already in the UK) must register a business in the UK and get a sponsor licence.

    Please note that your spouse or family member cannot be your sponsor, so if they registered the business, IAS or your spouse’s business partner can become a Sponsorship Management System (SMS) user and issue you the CoS for your visa application.

    The skilled worker visa is valid for up to 5 years, and you can choose to settle permanently after its duration. When applying for the skilled worker visa, you are to:

    • Pay the application fee between £625 to £1,423. You will likely pay a lower visa application fee if your job is on the shortage occupation list.
    • Pay the healthcare surcharge (£624 per year).
    • Prove that you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK. You should have access to at least £1,270.

    See the requirements of a skilled worker visa next.

    Skilled Worker Route Requirements

    As a self-sponsor applying through the skilled worker route, you should:

    • Speak, read, understand and write in English. When applying, you must prove your English knowledge level.
    • Have a partner or spouse in the UK who can help with your business registration.
    • Pay the visa application fee.
    • Provide your criminal record certificate.

    If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and started living in the UK by December 31, 2020, you can apply for the free EU Settlement Scheme. It implies that you don’t need a skilled worker permit to work in the UK.

    What Documents Do I Need?

    The following are the documents you need when applying for a UK skilled worker visa:

    • Certificate of Sponsorship reference number
    • Proof of your English knowledge.
    • Copy your valid passport with a blank page or document showing your identity (if from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein). Your document should be in English or Welsh.
    • Sponsor licence number
    • Evidence of your sufficient funds in the UK, i.e., bank statement
    • Proof of relationship with your partner and dependents
    • Copy of your criminal record certificate.

    The Criminal record certificate is necessary if you are applying outside the UK and working in the Education, Healthcare, Therapy, and Social Services sectors. You must provide a criminal record of the last ten years from each country you have lived in, depending on your age and how long you spent in each country.

    For instance, if you are up to 28, you will likely provide the criminal record certificate from countries where you have stayed at least 12 months since you turned 18. If you stayed in Japan and India for at least 12 months each since your 18th birthday, you must present your criminal record from both countries.

    How Do I Apply under the Skilled Worker Route?

    The following is the self-sponsorship process involved when applying for the skilled worker visa:

    Register a Business 

    Firstly, you must set up the new UK company with your spouse as the director. We can assist with formulating the business plan and the initial set-up for the business. But to achieve this, your spouse must already be in the UK on a valid work visa, ILR or use the Innovator or the Start-up route.

    Get a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence

    Once the UK company is set up, your spouse would apply for a sponsor licence for the UK company. IAS can assist with this and deal with the Home Office on your behalf. We can also advise you and help prepare all other forms and documentation. Additionally, we will register as a “Level 1 user”, which allows us to manage your sponsor management system.

    When the Sponsor licence is granted, we will issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) as the primary applicant for the skilled worker permit. Your spouse cannot issue the CoS to you as it is not permitted to assign a CoS to a family member.

    Skilled Worker Visa Route

    With the CoS, your skilled worker visa application process will go more smoothly. You can apply for the skilled worker visa inside (when switching from another visa or extending your visa) or outside the UK. Your location determines how the rest of your application process goes.

    Our lawyers are experts at handling the challenging aspects of transforming a skilled worker visa into a self-sponsorship route. Contact us at (+44) 333 4149244, or reach us online.

    If you have any questions about your Visa for Self Sponsorship in the UK, our team is happy to assist.

    The Innovator Visa

    The UK Innovator Visa was established in April 2019 to replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. It is intended for business-minded people who seek to invest in a great business idea in the UK.

    How Does the Innovator Visa Work for Self-sponsorship?

    When applying for the Innovator Visa, you will need a minimum of £50,000 to invest and qualify. The Innovator Visa lasts three years, but you can extend it for another three years. However, the law may permit you to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after only three years of lawful residence with the Innovator Visa.

    Also, the visa fee depends on if you are applying alone and where you are applying. For instance, a single application outside the UK will cost about £1,036, and applying with dependents costs £1,036 per person. While it costs £1,292 per person when applying within the UK.

    Innovator Visa Requirements

    If you would like to start or invest in a UK business under the Innovator Visa, you should:

    • Be at least 18 years of age.
    • Have an investment fund of at least £50,000.
    • Speak, write and read in English.

    If you run the business with co-directors, they should also show that they have at least £50,000 to invest.

    The Start-up Visa

    The UK Start-up Visa is intended for talented foreigners who want to develop their ideas in the UK. See how the visa works below.

    How Does the Start-up Visa Work for Self-sponsorship?

    The permit requires that your business idea demonstrates high potential and gets approved by an eligible endorsement body. If your endorsement gets withdrawn, your visa will likely be cut short, so if you want to stay longer, you must reapply for the permit with a new endorsement. However, you can only stay for two years, even if granted a new Start-up visa.

    Although you can take your dependents to the UK via the permit, they must file separate visa applications. Unlike the others, the Start-up Visa can only be issued once and cannot be extended, but you can switch to an Innovator Visa later.

    You cannot use the Start-up Visa to apply for permanent settlement, nor does time spent on this visa contribute to the residency requirement. If applying for a visa outside the UK, you are to pay £378, while in the UK, you will pay £508. If you are taking dependents with you, the visa costs £378 per person if you take dependents with you.

    Start-up Visa Requirements

    You can register as the startup’s sole founder or co-founder when applying for the visa. If you are looking to build a startup in the UK, you must:

    • Be at least 18 years old.
    • Have received an endorsement from a UK endorsing body.
    • Prove that you can speak, read and write in English.
    • Show that your business idea is innovative and new.

    Aside from these requirements, you will likely have to submit other evidence and documents, so it is advisable to use the help of experts to navigate your application.

    Suppose you have further enquiries about the Start-up and Innovator Visa, you should meet our immigration lawyers to learn the step-by-step approach when applying for any of them. Contact us at (+44) 333 4149244, or reach us online.

    How Can IAS Help?

    The Home Office will receive countless visa applications, so you should apply with the highest standard because it is stressful to repeal or reapply. As each visa has different requirements, it is easy to mistake them, leading to potential undue stress, difficulty, and anxiety.

    It’s why our immigration lawyers are here to guide you and handle your application process to the highest standard. If you are also worried about your eligibility due to your criminal record, we will help you choose the right approach, depending on your criminal history.

    Alongside this, we would prepare you adequately for your interview, so your responses leave no room for doubt about your eligibility. It may look complicated, but with the help of IAS, you will not have to do it alone.

    For more information about our services and how we can help you with your UK self-sponsorship visa interview, contact us at (+44) 333 4149244 or online.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    The processing time for the skilled worker permit is about three weeks if you are a non-UK resident and eight weeks inside the UK. But consider the time it takes to submit a business proposal and the sponsor licence. The Innovator Visa also takes up to 3 weeks to receive a decision from the Home Office if you are outside the UK and eight weeks within the UK.

    The cost of obtaining the three sponsorship (UK) visas varies. However, it costs £625 when applying for a skilled worker visa, £1,036 to get an Innovator Visa and £378 to obtain the Start-up Visa per person. You should also consider the cost of registering your new business, flight tickets and healthcare surcharge.

    Usually, you cannot repeal when your Start-up Visa is rejected, so you may have to re-apply, but you may still be able to request an administrative review of the decision. In the case of an Innovator Visa, you can submit an appeal if you believe the rejection was a mistake.

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