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Expanding to the UK

The team at Changes Immigration has many years of experience in helping overseas businesses to establish themselves in the UK. A number of immigration options are available. The best one for your business will depend on several factors. Get in touch for strategic advice.

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The Sponsorpreneur™ route

The Sponsorpreneur route is a reliable immigration strategy for business expansion and settlement in the UK. An applicant may be eligible for settlement after 5 years in the UK under the Skilled Worker visa route.

To use the Sponsorpreneur route, an overseas company must have a ‘settled worker’ based in the UK who is available to act as a director, employee or officer of the UK company. Settled workers include British or Irish citizens, those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK and those with pre-settled or settled status under the EU settlement scheme.

The main steps in the Sponsorpreneur process are:

  • An overseas entity establishes a UK company and sets up a UK bank account;
  • The UK company applies for a sponsor licence; and
  • Once the sponsor licence is granted, the UK company can sponsor workers, including the owner of the company, as Skilled Workers.
UK Expansion Worker

Businesses that have not yet started trading in the UK, but who have a ‘UK footprint’, e.g. premises or Companies House registration, may be able to use the UK Expansion Worker route to establish a team in the UK.

The first step is to obtain a sponsor licence. A Certificate of Sponsorship may then be assigned to the first worker. A minimum salary applies and the amount will depend somewhat on the proposed role.

Where the first worker is also the person responsible for the sponsor licence, they apply to upgrade the sponsor licence once they are in the UK. Upgrading the sponsor licence allows them to sponsor further colleagues from the overseas business.

The initial visa is granted for 1 year. It can be extended for a further year, but the time spent on a UK Expansion Worker visa does not lead to settlement in the UK.

Innovator Founder - Stage 1

The Innovator Founder visa route is available to entrepreneurs wishing to establish and run a business in the UK. Funding is not required.

First you secure endorsement for your business plan from one of 3 Home Office-approved endorsing bodies: UK Endorsement Services, Geminus Innovation or Envestors. The endorsing body must confirm that your proposed business is innovative, viable and scalable.

Innovator Founder - Stage 2

Then you use that endorsement to support your application for UK immigration permission (a visa). The visa application stage involves completion of an online form and electronic submission of supporting documents, as well as attending an appointment to submit biometric data and possibly an interview.

Innovator Founder visas are granted for 3 years and can be extended indefinitely. Innovator Founder migrants might be eligible for settlement after 3 years.

If you are planning business expansion to the UK, seek advice early to avoid wasting time and money.

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