Self sponsorship options for business owners and entrepreneurs
Businessmen may feel particularly vulnerable if their products or services are tied to a specific location. Just imagine running a construction company with a dozen of builders working for you on various projects. How can one manage the business remotely?
If the business is up and running, self-sponsorship may be a practical solution allowing you to get an independent immigration status.
In order for the business to sponsor the business owner (or one of the business owners), the business has to have at least one other person either as an office holder – that is a director or secretary of the business – or a senior employee of the business, who would be a British citizen or a settled person. This person will have to act as the Authorising officer if the business was to apply for a licence to sponsor non-British workers.
A skilled worker licence will allow to sponsor the owner either as the director of the business or as a professional. In other words, if you are the owner of the construction company, you may be able to sponsor yourself either as the director or manager of the business, or as a builder, bricklayer, carpenter etc – whatever your job is in addition to your director’s duties.
The minimum level of salary you will have to pay yourself will be determined by the Standard Occupational Code associated with your job title. For example, director in building construction has to be paid at least £35,700 per year. This has to be paid as a salary, not dividends. If your sponsor yourself as a bricklayer or roofer you may be able to pay yourself a lower salary – but this will depend on the job you will be doing in the business.
If you are interested in other entrepreneurial activities, not just working in your own business, your preferable option will be a Scale-up licence, which will allow you to work independently of the sponsor just after six months.
Options for sole traders
Unfortunately, self-sponsorship is not available for sole traders. You can sponsor other people as a sole trader, provided you have a sponsor licence, but you cannot sponsor yourself.
If your business is sufficiently developed and you have other employees working for you, you may think of registering the business as a limited company and applying for the sponsor licence as described above.
Another option would be to find a sponsor who would also be your employer.
Sponsored employment may be a realistic option if you are working for an employer and your job requires some special skill and is adequately paid. You will be required to show knowledge of English at B1 level.
If you do not have a prospective sponsor, you may be interested to read through our tips on how to find a sponsor.
There are two sponsored routes which lead to settlement: the skilled worker route and the scale-up worker route.
Scale-up worker visa is much more flexible and would certainly be your preferred choice if you qualify. The employer has to have this special type of sponsor licence which is only granted to fast growing companies which have been established for a number of years. You will have to be sponsored in a highly skilled profession and be paid a salary above £34,600. The advantage of this route is that after six months you will have the flexibility of changing employment, working for yourself or starting your own business. You will not be tied to the same employer by the sponsorship ties.
The skilled worker option is more achievable but the possibility to take up supplementary employment is very limited and no freelance work is allowed.
Health and care worker visa
Care workers are in great demand in the UK and if you have adequate skills and compassionate and caring personality you may find sponsored employment in this field without any special professional qualifications. You will have to pass the language test at B1 level as for other sponsored employment.
The advantage of the Health and Care worker visa is that you will be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. There has been a discussion of making applications for indefinite leave to remain free of charge or at a significant discount for health and care workers in recognition of their contribution to the society in the UK.
Parent of a British child
If you have a British citizen child, you will have the basis to stay in the UK as the parent responsible for the child’s upbringing. It doesn’t matter whether the child is living with you or with the other parent, provided the child is in the UK, and you regularly see the child and continue to have parental responsibilities.
In order for this rule to apply, the child has to be under the age of 18 when you make the application. You will be able to extend your visa as a parent after the child turns 18, as long as the child does not start independent life or start their own family.
Sponsored workers with dependent children
If you came to the UK as a family of a sponsored worker there is no option under the immigration rules that would allow you stay in the UK in order to exercise the right of access to a child who has a temporary immigration status in the UK.
In practice, an application can be made outside the immigration rules – but this application is bound to be lengthy and complex and would be your last choice if compared with other options described above.