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For individuals looking to come into the UK to live and work, there are a variety of visa options.

Business Visitor Visa

Many individuals enter the UK as a business visitor. This visa does not allow you to work and only certain activities are permitted.

UK Ancestry Visa

If you are a Commonwealth citizen (e.g., Australia, New Zealand, or Canada), aged 17 or over, and can prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, you have a right to UK ancestry. You must apply for this type of visa outside the UK. You must prove you are able to work and that you plan to work in the UK, and you can adequately support and accommodate yourself and any dependants without the need of public funds. This visa is granted for 5 years and enables you to work in the UK. It also enables you to settle in the UK.

Youth Mobility Scheme Visa (YMS)

If you are aged between 18 and 30 on the date of your application, and a citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region), Taiwan, South Korea, San Marino or Monaco, then you may be eligible to apply for a 2-year visa which entitles you to work or study in the UK. You can also be self-employed but there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled. You must have £2,530 in cash funds available to you at the time of application. This visa is only granted once in an applicant’s lifetime and cannot be extended beyond the 2-year period.

Representative of an Overseas Business Visa

This type of visa allows an overseas company to send a single employee to work full-time in the UK in order to set up a branch or subsidiary of their company. You must be a senior employee of the overseas operation. You must not have a majority shareholding in the overseas company and must meet the English language requirement. This visa can be used for overseas companies to explore the UK market. The company cannot already have representation, and/or be trading in the UK. It is granted for an initial 3 years, can be extended for a further 2 years and may lead to longer term settlement.

Skilled Worker and Intra-Company Transfer

Skilled Worker: To apply under this visa type, you must have a UK job offer, from a sponsored employer, which meets the skill and salary requirements.

Intra-Company Transfer: For multinationals needing to transfer an overseas skilled worker to the UK linked entity on either a short-term or long-term basis.

Both categories require you to have a (employer) licensed by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and there are minimum salary requirements.

This route may involve a 3-stage process:

  • Sponsor Licence: The sponsor (employer) must apply for a licence which must be approved by UKVI. UKVI will carry out appropriate checks before deciding whether to grant the application for a licence for up to 4 years.
  • Certificates of Sponsorship (“CoS”): Once licenced, and subject to a range of rules dependent on the type of job that you are being sponsored for, your sponsor will then be able to issue you a CoS (a virtual document to potential migrants).
  • Entry Clearance (if outside the UK)/ Leave to Remain (if in the UK): You will then need to obtain entry clearance/ leave to remain. This process is “a points-based criteria” in which you must obtain a certain number of points based on the information contained in the CoS (to include earnings), and your qualifications.

You must show that you have competence in English for Skilled Worker applications. For both categories you must show you have sufficient funds to maintain yourself and any dependants joining you in the UK, alternatively, your sponsor can certify maintenance on the CoS. 

Migrants have permitted right to settlement under the Skilled Worker visa.

Global Talent Visa

This visa is for talented and promising individuals in the fields of science, engineering, medicine, humanities, digital technology and arts and culture (including film and television, fashion design and architecture) wishing to work in the UK. You must be a leader in your field or have the potential to be a leader.

Stage 1

You would first need to apply for endorsement by an organisation that’s related to your qualifying field:

  • as a leader (exceptional talent)
  • as an emerging leader (exceptional promise)
  • under the UK Research and Innovation endorsed funder option

The current endorsing bodies are:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering
  • The British Academy, for humanities
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture
  • UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), for research applicants

If your qualifying field is fashion, architecture or film and television, Arts Council England will pass on your application for review to:

  • British Fashion Council, for fashion
  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), for architecture
  • Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), for film and television

The endorsing body advises the Home Office of their decision.

Stage 2

Once endorsed, you would then be able to apply for your visa. You can apply to stay for between 1 and 5 years, and you can include your dependants to join you in the UK.
The visa can lead to settlement for both you and your dependants.

Start-Up Visa

This visa is for those who are looking to establish a business in the UK for the first time. 

To qualify under this category, you need a new business idea that is innovative, scalable and viable.

You will need to be endorsed by a Home Office approved endorsing body and provide an endorsement letter issued by the endorsing body.

A grant of leave under this category is for 2-years and does not directly lead to settlement but you can switch to the Innovator visa.

For this visa there is an English language requirement, and you would need to demonstrate that you have enough funds to support yourself and any dependants while in the UK.

Innovator Visa

This visa category is for more experienced businesspeople looking to establish a business in the UK.

You can apply, if:

  • you intend to set up or run a business in the UK. 
  • you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds.  You do not need to show funds if your business is already established, you invested the funds and have been endorsed for an earlier visa (under the Start-up visa).
  • your business or business idea must be endorsed. 

In order to qualify under this category, you need a new business idea that is scalable and viable. You must obtain an endorsement letter from one of the Home Office approved endorsing bodies.

There is also an English language requirement and you would need to demonstrate that you have enough funds to support yourself and any dependants while in the UK.

A grant of leave under this category is for periods of 3-years and can lead to settlement after 3-years for both you and your dependants.

Investor Visa (Tier 1)

This visa category is aimed at high-net-worth workers who are willing and able to make a significant financial investment in the UK as a condition of entry to and remaining in the UK. You must:

  • be 18 or over to apply,
  • show funds of at least £2 million (that are free to spend in the UK) to invest in:
    • Share capital; or
    • Loan capital in active UK companies.
  • have opened an account at a regulated bank to use for your funds.

You cannot invest in companies which mainly engage in property investment, property management or property development.

Entry is granted initially for up to 3 years and 4 months and can be extended for a further 2 years.  Your dependants can join you in the UK and the visa can lead to settlement, for both you and your dependants. The standard period of leave to obtain settlement is 5 years, or under the accelerated routes in:

  • 3 years, if you invest £5 million; or
  • 2 years, if you invest £10 million.

Tax consequences

Please note all work visas can lead to an individual having to be
resident for tax purposes. Ensure you obtain early tax advice to adequately plan your tax affairs and explore your options.


Disclaimer: This note does not contain a full statement of the law and it does not constitute legal advice.  Please contact us if you have any questions about the information set out above.

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