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How to get business visa for UK (What you must know about UK Entrepreneur visas)

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Know how to get business visas to the UK and start your new business

When it comes to starting a new business, the UK is one of the most lucrative places to start a new business.

With great infrastructure, straight forward processes and a high number of talents from across the world, it makes the UK one of the most sought-after places to open a successful and thriving business.

With over 300,000 businesses starting out each year, more than half of these businesses break by the end of their 2nd year, making UK one of the best places to consider when thinking of starting a business. So if you are looking for ways to get a business visa in the UK this guide will give you tips and ideas. We will explain about the Standard Visitor visa and the Entrepreneur visa (Tier 1) which are the most in demand.

Here are some of the things to consider when you want to visit the UK;

When it comes to getting a visa to start a business in the UK, there are different visas for people with different reasons for visiting the UK.

If you would like to visit the UK for leisure, a holiday or to visit friends and family, you’ll apply for the standard visitor visa. It also applies if you’d like to take part in a creative or sports event or to receive private medical treatment.

If you are a plan to attend a business seminar or conference, especially ideal for doctors, dentists and academics then the standard visa applies. This visa has replaced the general visitor visa, the child visitor visa, the business visa, the entertainer visitor visa, family visa, sports visa, prospective entrepreneur visa, private medical treatment visa and approved destination status (ADS) visa.

If you are visiting the UK for a conference, meeting or training, or want to take part in a specific sports related event, then the standard visitor visa applies. All entertainers, musicians or an artist’s visiting the UK to perform, doctor or dentist visiting the UK for a clinical attachment or observer post require this visa. As an academic doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad program you’ll need the standard visa to travel to the UK.

With this visa, you can study for up to 30 days if it’s not the main reason for your visit, take part in an exchange programme if you’re under 18 years old, you can convert your civil partnership into a marriage or pass through the UK in transit. This visa does not permit paid or unpaid work, you cannot live in the UK for long periods of time, get public funds, marry or register a civil partnership. 

How to apply

You can apply for a standard visa at least 3 months before you travel and expect a decision on your visa within 3 weeks. You can stay in the UK for up to 6 months on this visa but you can stay longer if you’re visiting the UK for private medical treatment. If you’re an academic on sabbatical going to the UK for research and if you’re are a visitor under the approved destination status agreement then you can apply for this visa.

Costs

The Standard Visitor visa costs £95 while a long-term visa has varying costs depending on the duration of the visa. A 2-year visa costs £361, a 5-year standard visa costs £655 while one for 10 years costs £822.

Now that you know what a Standard Visa is, what it entails, who is eligible and the costs for a Standard Visa, here are the requirements on how to get a business visa for the UK. 

UK business visa requirements

Before, one could get a Tier 1 (Entrepreneurship) visa. This is no longer the case. If you already have a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa, you can still apply to settle in the UK, apply to extend your visa, can change from this visa to another visa and can request your family members to join you.

Today, to get a Business visa, you can apply for either the Innovator Visa or the Start Up Visa.

  1. Innovator Visa

To apply for an Innovator visa;

  • You need to have your business idea or business endorsed by an approved body
  • You’re from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland
  • You meet other eligibility requirements such as being at least 18 years old, meet the English language requirement, are able to prove you have enough personal savings to support yourself while in the UK.
  • You must have at least £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before applying and you cannot use money from your investment fund to support yourself or use the money earned while working in the UK illegally.
  • Have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you want to start a new business. If the business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa
  • You can form a team with other innovator applications but you cannot share the same investment funds. For each innovator applicant, they must each have at least £50,000 to invest.

How long does it take to get an Innovator Visa?

You need to apply 3 months before you travel and it will take at least 3 weeks to get a decision on your visa. The processing times may vary from one country to another.

How much does it cost?

For anyone applying for an Innovator Visa from outside the UK, it will cost £1021. If you’re from Macedonia or Turkey you’ll pay £966 and all dependants visas cost £1021. To extend or switch to the UK, you’ll need to pay a bit more so be sure to find out the total costs while you make your travel plans.

Other factors to consider

Health care – you’ll need to pay the health care surcharge as part of your application.

If applying to extend or switch in the UK, you’ll need to pay about £20 to have your biometric information taken.

How long can you stay in the UK on an Innovator Visa?

You can stay for 3 years if you come to the UK on an Innovator visa or switch to another visa if you have this one already. Once it expires, you can apply to extend it for another 3 years and can reapply indefinitely. Once you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years, you can apply for settlement, also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’.

What happens if your endorsement is withdrawn?

If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa can be withdrawn and if you want to extend your visit, you need to reapply for an extension before your current visa expires with a new endorsement.

Do’s and Don’ts

With an Innovator Visa, you can set up one or several businesses, work for your business and be able to bring family members with you.

You cannot, however, do any work outside your business like being employed by another company, cannot work as a professional sportsperson, work as a dentist or doctor in training or get public funds.

Prove your knowledge of English

Part of the Visa Application process includes proving your knowledge of English when you apply. You can do this by passing an approved English language test, by having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by a board that shows it’s the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PHD.

Documents to provide

In addition to the endorsement letter to show your business idea has been approved, you need to provide added documents such as;

  • Your current passport and other valid travel documents
  • Bank statements with at least £945 in savings in your account for 90 consecutive days
  • Proof of your English language proficiency
  • If you’re setting up a new business, need to show evidence of your investment funds
  • Tuberculosis test results if from a country where you require to take the test
  • Have a blank page in your passport for your visa
  • Need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English
  • Any additional documents that pertain to your circumstances

How to Extend Your Visa

If you’re looking to extend your Innovator Visa you need to apply before your current visa expires. You can extend your visa if you meet the eligibility requirements, still, want to run a business in the UK or seek to start a new one, have at least £50,000 in investment funds for a new business. You need not have funds if your business is already established. You need to have your business idea or business assessed by an approved body when you extend your visa.

You need to apply online and provide biometric information and all supporting documents. You will need to make an appointment at a UKVCAS service point with all your biometric information and your photo. You can submit your supporting documents by uploading them online or have them scanned at a UKVCAS (UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services) point.

  1. Start Up Visa

You can apply for a Start-up visa if;

  • You’re looking to set up a business in the UK
  • You’re from outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland
  • You meet other eligibility requirements
  • You must be endorsed by an authorization body that is either a business organization with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs or a UK higher education organization.

The time it takes to get a visa

You can apply for a visa at least 3 months before you intend to travel.

Cost

If you are outside the UK, it costs £363 and if you need to switch the visa while in the UK, it costs £493. For all Turkey and Macedonia Citizens, it costs £308 and for all dependants, the cost is £363 per person. Keep in mind you’ll need to pay the health care surcharge during your application.

How long can you stay?

You can stay in the UK for 2 years on this visa and you cannot apply to extend this visa. If your endorsement is withdrawn, your visa can be cut short. For an extension, you must reapply with a new endorsement and can only stay for a total of 2 years even if you’re granted a new visa and have a new endorsement.

With this visa, you can bring family members with you, switch to another visa and work in another job as well as working for your business. You cannot work as a professional sportsperson like a sports coach, cannot get public funds or work as a dentist or doctor in training.

To be eligible for this visa;

  • You need to have your business idea or business assessed by an approved body. They will then provide you with an endorsement letter if your business is viable.
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Must meet the English language requirement
  • Prove you have enough personal savings to support yourself while in the UK by having at least £945 in your bank for 90 consecutive days before applying 

Prove your knowledge of English

You can prove your knowledge of English by passing an approved English language test or by having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by a board that shows it’s the equivalent of a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PHD.

Documents to provide

In addition to the endorsement letter to show your business idea has been approved, you need to provide added documents such as;

  • Your current passport and other valid travel documents
  • Bank statements with at least £945 in savings in your account for 90 consecutive days
  • Proof of your English language proficiency
  • Tuberculosis test results if from a country where you’re required to take the test
  • Have a blank page in your passport for your visa
  • Need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English
  • Any additional documents that pertain to your circumstances

If you would like your family members to join you, they must have a visa if they are outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland. Your spouse or partner can join you or children under the age of 18.

Dependants

For each dependant, you must have at least £630 in addition to the £945 to support yourself. This will show that your dependents will be supported while in the UK.

For dependants outside the UK, they will need to apply online and have their fingerprints and photograph taken at the visa application center. They will need to collect their biometric residence permit within 10 days from when they said they would arrive in the UK. Depending on which country they are traveling from, they may be able to get their visa faster.

Applying from North Korea

If your family members live in North Korea, they cannot apply online. Each member must download the application form and fill out the application on their own.

Extending or switching visas

Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visa when they are already in the UK. They can apply online as a dependent partner or as a dependent child. Members cannot apply in the UK as a dependant if they hold a visitor visa.

Summary

tips-to-get-business-visa-for-uk

With these steps and tips, you’re well on your way to getting a Business Visa for the UK

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