Self-Sponsorship as an Alternative to Innovator and Startup Visa Routes

Many non-UK citizens have been drawn to the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit and startup community. However, if you want to start a UK business as an immigrant, you have to be aware that your options are limited. You need a visa to operate a business in the UK, and they are hard to obtain.

Two popular paths are the Startup and Innovator visa routes. But those aren’t the only routes one can take. The “Self-Sponsorship” route via the Skilled Worker Visa, has become increasingly popular as an option.

The Startup Visa Route

Entrepreneurs who live outside the UK but still have great business ideas that hold the potential to become successful may opt for a Startup Visa. To get a Startup Visa, one has to have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea that needs to be approved by a government-sanctioned endorsement body. This can be a high bar.

The Innovator Visa Route

The other popular option is the Innovator Visa route. While this route resembles the aforementioned Startup route, it has required a minimum investment of £50,000 per applicant. 

Furthermore, as its name implies, to acquire the Innovator Visa, one must come up with an innovative business idea that an endorsement body must approve. And the business must show it can be viable and scalable as well.  If you’re approved for the Innovator visa, you can’t undertake any other business activities, only the approved one.

Is Self-Sponsorship a Good Alternative?

For many people, Startup and Innovator visas may be too difficult to obtain. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to these two paths. You can opt for a “Self-Sponsorship” pathway of the Skilled Worker Visa

Now, this visa is a great option for people that possess a good amount of knowledge about a certain industry, have a business concept that has the potential to succeed in the UK and can prove that they have the necessary skills and experience.

To sum up, here are a couple of things that make self-sponsorship so appealing:

  • Unlike Startup and Innovator routes, it doesn’t require endorsement letters.
  • It allows the applicant to be the Director of their UK company and a 100% shareholder.
  • The route doesn’t require you to develop a business idea unique to the UK market.
  • It’s valid for 4 years, unlike Startup, which is valid for 2 years, and Innovator visa, which is valid for 3 years.
  • You can apply if you’re a successful businessperson identifying an opportunity in the United Kingdom.
  • It allows you to sponsor your own company, which eliminates the possibility of your visa getting terminated by a third party.
  • You can qualify for indefinite leave to remain and residency, and you can bring your immediate family, too.

How Boardroom Advisors Can Help

Self-Sponsorship is a great alternative to the Startup and Innovator visa routes. It allows you to take control of your business without relying on an endorsement body or an innovative idea. 

Boardroom Advisors has helped over 100 entrepreneurs successfully obtain business visas, and can provide the guidance and support you need to set up your business in the UK. Our 150 directors, advisors, and experts can assist in areas from marketing to financial planning.

So if you’re looking to take the Self-Sponsorship route you will find more information here where you can also download our brochure for all the information you need.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.