Self Sponsorship Visa UK: Your Pathway to Work In The UK via Self-Sponsorship

Please note that Boardroom Advisors provides startup and business advice including research, business planning and the supply of UK Directors. We do not provide immigration or legal advice ourselves but can we can sign-post you to a firm that can provide a free 30 min discussion with immigration advisors or immigration lawyers.

Self Sponsorship Visa UK: Your Pathway to Work In The UK via Self-Sponsorship 

Have you ever wondered if there’s a way to work in the United Kingdom without relying on a traditional sponsorship? A way to take control of your own destiny and become the sponsor of your UK visa? Well, you’ll be glad to know that the self-sponsorship visa route can make your dream a reality.

In this guide, we will delve into the world of self sponsorship in the UK, exploring the opportunities it presents and guiding you through the application process. So, if you’re ready to carve your own path and work legally in the UK, keep reading to discover how self sponsorship can be the key to your success.

What is the Self-Sponsorship Route to a visa?

The Self-Sponsorship route allows individuals to sponsor their own work visa, typically under the framework of a Skilled Worker visa category, in countries like the UK. This route is designed for entrepreneurs, business owners, or highly skilled individuals who establish and run their own business in the UK. Rather than being sponsored by an external employer, applicants use their own company as the sponsoring entity.

For this visa, the individual must first establish or have an existing company in the UK that meets specific criteria set by the immigration authorities. The company must be genuine, active, and capable of offering a genuine vacancy that meets the skill and salary thresholds defined by the immigration rules. The individual then applies for a sponsor licence on behalf of their company. Once granted, the company can assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to the company, enabling them to apply for the skilled worker visa.

Key requirements typically include proving the business’s legitimacy, the role’s appropriateness in skill level, and the ability to pay a salary that meets or exceeds specified thresholds. Additionally, applicants must meet general visa requirements, such as language proficiency and the ability to support themselves financially.

This visa pathway is attractive for those looking to have more control over their work and immigration status, allowing them to leverage their entrepreneurial ventures for residency and work purposes in the UK.

How to Qualify for a Self-Sponsorship Route to a Visa

To secure a Skilled Worker Visa through self-sponsorship, UK Visas and Immigration mandates the following criteria be met:

  • Your age must be at least 18 years.
  • You must obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship assigned by your UK company, specifically for the role you intend to fill.
  • The company you own in the UK must be operational, authentic, and have obtained a sponsor licence.
  • The role you are to assume should be a real job vacancy that aligns with the skill level expected for the Skilled Worker visa.
  • It’s required that your salary meets or surpasses the specific salary threshold for your role, including the general rate for the occupation
  • Evidence of your English language proficiency at CEFR Level B1 (comparable to IELTS 4.0) is necessary.
  • You should demonstrate financial stability to support yourself in the UK without accessing public funds.
  • If applicable, submission of a criminal record certificate is needed.
  • Further information available from an immigration advisor

These requirements underscore the need for a well-prepared application that adheres to the UK’s immigration rules. Since individual circumstances can influence the specific needs for your visa application, consulting with experts like Boardroom Advisors could provide tailored advice and guidance for a successful application process.

Bringing Your Family to the UK: The Skilled Worker Dependent Visa

After you’ve established your business and secured your own Skilled Worker Visa through self-sponsorship, you might wonder about the options available for your family. The UK recognizes the importance of family unity, offering the Skilled Worker Dependent Visa for eligible family members of Skilled Worker Visa holders. This segment of the visa pathway enables your dependents, including your spouse and children under the age of 18, to join you in the UK.

To apply for a Dependent Visa, your family members will need to demonstrate their relationship to you, prove their financial sufficiency or access to maintenance funds, and meet health and character requirements, among other criteria. It’s an essential consideration for those planning a long-term stay in the UK, ensuring that your career aspirations align with your family life and wellbeing.

How to Apply for the Self-Sponsorship Route of the Skilled Worker Visa

Navigating the application process for a Skilled Worker Visa via self-sponsorship involves clear steps. This guide is designed to provide a straightforward yet professional approach to securing your visa.

Step 1: Establish Your UK Business

Establishing your UK business is the cornerstone of applying for a self-sponsorship Skilled Worker Visa. This initial step requires setting up a new enterprise or ensuring your existing business meets UK regulatory standards, which signifies your readiness to enter the UK market. 

The process involves choosing the appropriate business structure, like a limited company for its legal and operational benefits, and registering it with Companies House. This formal registration not only legitimises your business but also is a critical requirement for the subsequent sponsor licence application. This is something Boardroom Advisors can help with.

Opening a UK business bank account and ensuring compliance with tax obligations are also essential tasks during this phase, laying a solid foundation for your visa journey. You normally need a UK Director in order to do this, something Boardroom Advisors can assist with.

Once your business is established, the focus shifts to preparing for the sponsorship process. This preparation includes understanding the responsibilities as a sponsor, such as maintaining accurate records and adhering to Home Office requirements. 

Successfully navigating this phase demonstrates your business’s commitment to compliance and its capability to support a Skilled Worker Visa application. The ultimate goal is to create a compliant, operational business framework that not only serves your entrepreneurial aspirations but also aligns with the UK’s immigration policies for self-sponsorship.

Step 2: Obtain Your Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence

Securing a Skilled Worker sponsor licence is essential for entrepreneurs aiming to self-sponsor their visa application. This licence proves your business can legally employ skilled workers, including yourself. Here’s how to navigate this crucial step:

Understanding Sponsor Licence Requirements

To be eligible for a sponsor licence, your business must meet specific criteria:

  • Genuine Business Verification: Your operation must be legitimate and active within the UK.
  • Capability of Sponsorship Duties: Ability to fulfil sponsorship responsibilities effectively.
  • Legitimate Employment Offers: Employment that meets the Skilled Worker route’s requirements for salary and skill level.

Essential Documentation for Application

For businesses operating for less than 18 months, prepare to submit:

  • Mandatory Documents: This includes proof of a corporate bank account in the UK, plus any three of the following:
    • HMRC registration for PAYE and National Insurance.
    • VAT registration.
    • Employer’s liability insurance cover of at least £5 million.
    • Proof of business premises ownership or lease.

Demonstrating Your Business’s Legitimacy

To satisfy the Home Office that your business is a genuine entity capable of carrying out its sponsorship duties, you will need to provide detailed documentation. This includes proof of lawful operation in the UK, the capability for sponsorship responsibilities, and offering genuine employment that complies with Skilled Worker visa regulations.

The Role of Key Personnel in Sponsorship

Appointing the right personnel is critical:

  • Authorising Officer: Manages and ensures compliance with the sponsorship licence.
  • Key Contact: Acts as the liaison with the Home Office.
  • Level 1 User(s): Handles day-to-day sponsorship operations.

Preparing for a Sponsor Licence Application

A successful application requires:

  • Comprehensive Documentation: Gather all necessary documents in advance.
  • Professional Guidance: Consider seeking expert advice to navigate the application process.

Obtaining a sponsor licence is a pivotal step in the self-sponsorship visa application process. It demands thorough preparation, accurate documentation, and a clear understanding of the requirements. With a well-prepared application, your journey towards self-sponsorship under the Skilled Worker Visa can move forward confidently.

Step 3: Assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

After obtaining your sponsor licence, the next pivotal step is to apply for and assign a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to yourself as part of the Skilled Worker Visa application process. A CoS is an electronic document necessary for every migrant worker you intend to employ, including yourself in the capacity of self-sponsorship. This document serves as proof of your offer of employment under your UK business and is critical for proceeding with the visa application.

A CoS is not just a formality; it’s a detailed record that ties your visa application to your business, ensuring that you have a legitimate offer of employment that meets the visa requirements. To maintain the validity of your application, the CoS must be assigned no more than three months before submitting your Skilled Worker Visa application. This timing is crucial to ensure the information is current and reflective of the job offer’s actual conditions.

The Certificate must encompass several essential details to be considered valid:

  • Personal Information: Your full name, as the employee, must be clearly stated.
  • Employment Details: It should specify the job title, description, and the salary offered. The salary must meet or exceed the specified threshold for your occupation code, ensuring it aligns with the market rate.
  • Start Date: The employment start date indicated on the CoS must fall within three months from the date of your visa application. This ensures a direct transition from obtaining the visa to commencing your role.
  • Exclusivity: The CoS must confirm that it hasn’t been previously used in another application that was either approved or denied. It signifies that the sponsorship offer is specifically tailored to you and hasn’t been retracted or cancelled by the Home Office.

Obtaining and assigning a CoS is a meticulous process that demands attention to detail. It not only demonstrates the legitimacy of the employment offer but also ensures that all prerequisites for the Skilled Worker Visa application are meticulously met. This step solidifies your position both as the employer and the employee, moving you closer to achieving your goal of working in the UK under the self-sponsorship route.

Step 4: Submit Your Visa Application

With your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) secured, the path to applying for a Skilled Worker Visa through self-sponsorship is clear. This final step involves compiling and submitting your visa application with detailed evidence to meet the UK visa requirements.

Requirements for Your Visa Application

Your application must convincingly demonstrate several key points:

  • Valid CoS: Show that your CoS, linking you to your UK business, is current and accurately reflects your employment offer.
  • Genuine Job Offer: Provide evidence that the job you’re filling is a real, vacant position within your company.
  • Appropriate Skill Level: The role should meet the skill requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa, typically set at RQF Level 3 or above.
  • Salary Threshold: Ensure your salary meets or exceeds the general threshold or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation, along with any applicable minimum hourly rate.
  • Immigration Skills Charge: Confirm that any required Immigration Skills Charge has been paid by your sponsor (your own company in this case).
  • English Language Proficiency: Demonstrate B1 level competence in the English language, equivalent to IELTS 4.0, as per CEFR guidelines.
  • Financial Requirement: Show you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK without needing public funds, ensuring your smooth transition into the UK workforce.
  • Criminal Record Certificate: If applicable, provide this certificate as part of your character and criminal history check.

Applying for Your Visa

You’re eligible to apply for the Skilled Worker Visa up to three months before your employment start date in the UK. This timing allows for the processing of your application and any preparations for relocation.

  • Application Process: The visa application process involves filling out the application form, submitting it alongside all required documents, and paying the visa fee. Depending on your location, you may also need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre.
  • Decision Times: For applications made from outside the UK, decisions typically arrive within 3 – 6 weeks. If you’re switching or extending your visa from within the UK, expect an 8-week standard processing time. Priority services could expedite this process, subject to availability and additional fees.

Successfully navigating this final step not only hinges on the thorough preparation of your application but also on understanding and meeting the nuanced requirements set forth by the UK immigration authorities. With all criteria met and documents in order, your journey towards establishing and working within your own business in the UK can begin in earnest.

Extending Your Stay: Renewing Your Skilled Worker Visa

Once you’ve successfully navigated the self-sponsorship process and are settled in your role within your UK-based company, you might start to look ahead at extending your stay. The UK’s immigration policy allows for the renewal of the Skilled Worker Visa, ensuring that talented individuals can continue contributing to the workforce. Unlike some visa categories with strict limitations on extensions, the Skilled Worker Visa can be renewed multiple times, as long as you continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

Each renewal can extend your stay for up to 5 years, with the total period not exceeding 6 years at any one time. However, it’s important to note that the pathway to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) becomes available after a continuous 5-year period on this visa, offering a more permanent solution to your residency status in the UK.

How Boardroom Advisors Elevates Your Journey to a UK Skilled Worker Visa

Embarking on the journey to secure a Skilled Worker Visa via the self-sponsorship route can be complex. Fortunately, Boardroom Advisors stands ready to ease this path. Specialising in business consultancy, we ensure all your immigration advice and visa applications are in the capable hands of seasoned immigration lawyers and advisors who have successfully completed the self-sponsorship route.

Navigating the intricacies of the self-sponsorship route under a Skilled Worker Visa doesn’t have to be daunting. With Boardroom Advisors, you gain access to an extensive network of over 200 business advisors and Regional Directors, each bringing deep insights and tailored advice to support your ambitions. Whether you’re exploring the nuances of business setup, seeking innovative strategies, our expertise is your advantage.

Meeting the Skilled Worker Visa requirements is just the beginning. If you’re poised to embrace the self-sponsorship route and eager for comprehensive business advice, Boardroom Advisors invites you to a transformative consultation. We can sign post you to a free 30-minute dialogue with an immigration expert, dedicated to demystifying the immigration and legal facets of your visa application.

Conclusion: Your Pathway to the UK

Navigating the self-sponsorship route for a Skilled Worker Visa in the UK can seem daunting at first glance, but it’s a practical option for entrepreneurs aiming to work within their own UK-based companies. This guide aimed to demystify the process, breaking down each necessary step from establishing your business to applying for the visa itself.

To recap, the journey begins with setting up or properly registering your UK business, which sets the stage for everything that follows. The process doesn’t demand a heavy investment upfront or restrict the business type, offering flexibility for various entrepreneurs. Though not a requirement, a solid business plan could strengthen your application, making it easier to prove your business’s legitimacy to the Home Office.

After securing a sponsor licence and assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, you’re on your way to applying for the visa. Remember, your salary must meet certain thresholds, and you’ll need to prove your English proficiency among other criteria. Once approved, this visa can serve as a stepping stone to indefinite leave to remain, provided you meet all the necessary conditions during your stay.

While Boardroom Advisors can’t offer immigration advice directly, we’re here to help with business planning and signposting you to the right professionals for your visa application. This self-sponsorship path isn’t just about meeting the technical requirements; it’s an opportunity to grow your business in the UK and embark on a rewarding professional journey.

FAQs on Self-Sponsorship Skilled Worker Visa

Can I own and direct my UK company with a self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa?

With a self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa, you’re permitted to be both a Director and a shareholder, having the ability to own up to 100% of the company shares.

Is there an investment requirement for the Skilled Worker visa via self-sponsorship?

There’s no set investment requirement for applicants of the self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa. Demonstrating sufficient financial resources to support the growth and operational costs of your UK business can bolster the credibility of your enterprise as a genuine and legally operating entity.

Must my UK business offer something innovative or unique?

The Skilled Worker visa route does not impose a requirement for your business to be innovative or unique, unlike the Innovator Founder route. This pathway offers flexibility in business activities without the need for endorsement by a Home Office approved body.

Do I need a business plan for my visa application?

A business plan is not a compulsory component of the visa application. Nevertheless, having a comprehensive business plan can facilitate the process of proving to the Home Office that your business is legitimate and operational within the UK. We are prepared to guide you through meeting the Home Office’s requirements for a business plan and can coordinate with professional writers to ensure compliance.

Is receiving a salary required for self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa holders?

Receiving a salary that adheres to the specific thresholds, including the general salary threshold and the occupation’s ‘going rate,’ is mandatory for self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa holders. Our specialists are available to signpost you to immigration advisors who can clarify salary requirements based on your occupation. 

What are the English language requirements for this visa?

Applicants must prove English language proficiency at the B1 level across all four components: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This can be demonstrated in various ways, including nationality from a majority English-speaking country, successful completion of an English language test, specific educational qualifications, or having met this requirement in a previous UK visa application.

How long can I stay in the UK with a self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa?

This visa can grant a stay of up to 5 years, with the exact period extending an additional 14 days beyond the end date specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship.

Am I allowed to undertake additional work on this visa?

Supplementary employment is permitted under this visa, provided it complies with the ‘supplementary employment’ guidelines and does not interfere with the primary role for which you have been sponsored.

Register interest

Please click the button below to register your interest in self sponsorship and to receive more information:

Download our Self Sponsorship Brochure

Everything you need to know to apply for the UK Self Sponsorship Programme (Skilled Worker Visa)

…invaluable strategic business advice in many areas…

Ian Gosden, Managing Director, Higos Insurance

…valuable assistance in setting objectives and arranging strategy plans…

John Freshwater, Managing Director, Permaframe

…no hesitation in recommending him as a Non-Executive Director…

Colin Flaherty, Chairman, Academy of Business Strategy

…I was delighted to hear what a fantastic fit Boardroom Advisors were for my client…

Chris Budd, Founder, The Eternal Business

…he was a real asset in supporting us through rapid expansion…

Adam Ellis, Managing Director, Five Rivers

…he has had a significant impact on our approach to how we work as an agency…

Christian Harris, Managing Director, Sticky