Self-Sponsorship Options for Entry to the UK
If you aspire to initiate a business venture or work in the UK without relying on a sponsor, the self-sponsorship route is your pathway to entering the country. While there is no specific “self-sponsorship visa,” the UK offers several routes that allow individuals to sponsor themselves for entry.
A Closer Look at UK Self-Sponsorship
Presently, the UK does not offer a dedicated “self-sponsorship visa.” However, it provides three distinct avenues for working in the UK while self-sponsoring. These pathways include the Skilled Worker, Innovator, and Start-up Visas. Self-sponsorship visas are tailored for foreign nationals looking to establish or invest in businesses within the UK.
All three UK visas operate differently and have unique eligibility criteria. For example, the Skilled Worker Visa typically requires employment with a UK company. However, in the context of self-sponsorship, you must register your proposed business and obtain a sponsor license. This sponsor license application will lead to the issuance of a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), enabling you to run your own enterprise. Nonetheless, self-sponsorship in this scenario is more intricate.
In the case of the Innovator Visa, it necessitates a novel business concept and endorsement from an authorized UK body. The endorsing entity can be either a UK higher education institution or a business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, one of the Innovator Visa prerequisites is having a minimum of £50,000 for investment in a promising business idea. Alongside this, the application for the Innovator Visa should typically be made within three months before your intended travel date. Generally, Irish citizens are exempt from requiring any of the three self-sponsorship visa options or the EU Settlement Scheme to work in the UK. Detailed information on each visa and their functioning follows.
The Skilled Worker Visa Route
The Skilled Worker Visa allows you to reside in the UK while working for an approved UK company. Let’s delve into how this visa functions, particularly in the context of self-sponsorship.
How Does the UK Skilled Worker Visa Work for Self-Sponsorship?
The application process for the Skilled Worker Visa varies depending on whether you plan to establish a business in the UK. Typically, to qualify for the Skilled Worker Visa, you must:
- Be employed by a UK company approved by the Home Office.
- Secure a Certificate of Sponsorship from the UK company.
- Earn at least the minimum wage for your occupation.
However, the procedure differs when considering the establishment of a UK business or self-employment. Before applying for a Skilled Worker Visa, your partner (or any individual you know who is already in the UK) must register a business in the UK and acquire a sponsor license.
Please note that your spouse or family member cannot serve as your sponsor. If they register the business, 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 five years, with the option to pursue permanent settlement upon its expiry. When applying for the Skilled Worker Visa, you are required to:
- Pay the application fee, ranging from £625 to £1,423. Applicants with jobs on the shortage occupation list may typically pay a lower visa application fee.
- Settle the healthcare surcharge, amounting to £624 per year.
- Demonstrate your ability to financially support yourself upon arrival in the UK, with access to at least £1,270.
Skilled Worker Route Requirements for Self-Sponsorship
As a self-sponsor applying through the Skilled Worker route, you should:
- Demonstrate proficiency in speaking, reading, understanding, and writing in English, substantiated through suitable evidence.
- Have a partner or spouse in the UK who can assist with your business registration.
- Fulfill the visa application fee obligation.
- Present your criminal record certificate, if applicable.
If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and began residing in the UK by December 31, 2020, you may apply for the free EU Settlement Scheme. This implies that you do not require a Skilled Worker permit to work in the UK.
When applying for a UK Skilled Worker Visa for self-sponsorship, you will need the following documents:
- Certificate of Sponsorship reference number.
- Evidence of your English language proficiency.
- A copy of your valid passport with an empty page or a document indicating your identity (applicable to those from outside the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein). The document should be in English or Welsh.
- Sponsor license number.
- Proof of adequate funds in the UK, usually in the form of a bank statement.
- Evidence of your relationship with your partner and dependents.
- A copy of your criminal record certificate, if applicable.
The requirement for a criminal record certificate is contingent on your location, employment sector, and previous residence history. For instance, individuals under the age of 28 are typically required to provide a criminal record certificate from countries where they have resided
How Immigration Secure Can Assist You
Navigating the various visa categories and application procedures can be challenging. Immigration Secure offers expert guidance to help you choose the right Workers Visa category and ensure you meet all specific requirements for a successful application. Our services include comprehensive document checks, assistance with application forms, and the provision of a Letter of Representation to strengthen your case.
To initiate the process of obtaining your Temporary Worker Visa, please reach out to us or make an online enquiry. Our team of professionals is here to guide you through the entire application process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Self-sponsorship in the UK refers to the ability of foreign nationals to establish or invest in businesses within the country without relying on a traditional sponsor. While there isn’t a dedicated “self-sponsorship visa,” there are specific visa routes that allow individuals to sponsor themselves for entry.
The three main self-sponsorship visa routes in the UK are the Skilled Worker Visa, Innovator Visa, and Start-up Visa. Each has unique eligibility criteria and requirements for individuals looking to establish or invest in businesses.
The Skilled Worker Visa typically requires employment with a UK company. However, for self-sponsorship, you must have a partner or associate in the UK who registers a business and obtains a sponsor license. They can then issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for your visa application.
As a self-sponsor, you should demonstrate proficiency in English, have a partner or spouse in the UK to assist with business registration, meet the visa application fee requirements, and provide any necessary criminal record certificates. EU citizens residing in the UK by December 31, 2020, may have alternative options.
Required documents typically include the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number, evidence of English language proficiency, a valid passport or identity document, the sponsor license number, proof of adequate funds in the UK, evidence of your relationship with your partner and dependents, and, if applicable, a criminal record certificate.
The Skilled Worker Visa is valid for up to five years, with the option to pursue permanent settlement upon its expiry.
Yes, besides the Skilled Worker Visa, individuals can explore the Innovator Visa and Start-up Visa, each with its own unique requirements for self-sponsorship. The Innovator Visa, for instance, requires a novel business concept and endorsement from an authorized UK body.
Yes, there are application fees associated with the Skilled Worker Visa, which vary based on your circumstances and whether your occupation is on the shortage occupation list. Additionally, you’ll need to settle the healthcare surcharge and demonstrate your financial ability to support yourself upon arrival in the UK
EU citizens who began residing in the UK by December 31, 2020, may have access to the free EU Settlement Scheme, which could provide alternative pathways for working in the UK without the need for a Skilled Worker permit.
To establish self-sponsorship for your business in the UK, you typically need a partner or associate in the UK to register a business and obtain a sponsor license. They can then issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for your visa application.