Navigating The UKs Business Immigration Rules: A Guide For Entrepreneurs And Investors

For people looking to move to the UK and start a business there are a few different considerations. Hiring a business immigration solicitor should be one of the first things you do, ensuring that you do not miss out on any requirements, and that you suffer with minimal disruption and delay during the immigration process. This brief guide has been put together to outline the basics of the process, ensuring that the UK welcomes business owners and entrepreneurs looking to make a fresh start in this country and/or to expand their business interests that have begun in other countries.

There are many different reasons why a person wants to come to the UK for business. Some people move here to open up or expand a business, others to invest in business opportunities. Ensure that you have the correct visa, and you can keep on building your dream business.

Business Immigration

Business Visa In The UK

If you are only looking to come to the UK on a short-term basis for business, you may be able to apply for a standard visitor visa as your business visa. This can also be used for tourism and leisure at the same time. This is perfect for those foreign nationals who have family and friends that they would like to visit in the UK whilst coming here for business. You will need to set out the main purpose of your trip to the Home Office prior to acceptance on the visa application.

What Are The Permitted Activities?

With this visa you are allowed to attend meetings and conferences, seminars, and interviews. If you are due to give a one-off business talk that doesn’t make a profit for the organiser, this is permitted. You can enter the UK to negotiate and sign deals and contracts, advise, consult, trouble-shoot, and provide training. Businesspersons tasked with site visits and inspections can enter the country under this visa, attend trade fairs, all as long as there is no direct selling involved.

Depending on the sector you work within, there could be other additional activities that are permitted. This is where your business immigration solicitor will fully inform you.

Are There Prohibited Activities?

Under this visa you cannot establish or run a business as a self-employed person. Alongside this you cannot take up employment in the UK during your stay, work for an organisation or business in the UK, directly sell to the public, or provide goods and services.

The eligibility for a standard visitor visa states that you must leave the UK at the end of your visit, have enough money to support yourself during your stay, proof of business activities you are due to undertake.

What Is The Business Visa Application Process?

You must apply for a visitor visa from outside the UK, online, providing your passport and travel document details. You must also provide supporting documents for your business activities that are planned during your stay. You can apply for a visa 3 months before you travel, with a decision made within 3 weeks, with a successful visa granting entry for up to 6 months.

What If I Want To Start-Up a Business or Invest?

Depending on which visa you are applying for there are different requirements. The Tier 1 investor visa is now closed, leaving the start-up and innovator routes.

Start-Up Route

For entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in the UK for the first time, this is the visa route to go down. This has replaced the Tier 1 visa from the past (which was exclusively for graduates). It is aimed at non-EEA nationals, who must be over 18 years of age, you can speak English, and have sufficient savings to support yourself. Your business idea must be endorsed by an authorised body (a university or business organisation).

You must provide evidence that you have had a minimum of £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before application, and an additional £630 for each dependent joining you. If successful, the visa is granted for a 2-year period.

Innovator Route

This has only recently been introduced and is intended for those people with experience in establishing a business in the UK. You must have a viable, innovative business plan, that is scalable and supported by an endorsing body, in much the same way as the start-up route. You must have at least £50,000 to invest in your new business, although there is a chance to qualify without investment funds in some cases where the business is already in place through the start-up route.

Choosing a business immigration solicitor to work with whilst applying for entry into the UK as an entrepreneur, business owner, or investor, gives you the best chance to make the application stick.