How to obtain permanent UK residency for senior executives and business owners

With the objective of attracting the best talent to the UK, the UK Government has made frequent changes to its immigration system in recent times. The UK still offers a range of options for senior executives and business owners who wish to relocate to the UK, despite the closure of the Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas.

In this article, we will briefly summarise the following routes:

1) Innovator Founder visa
2) UK Expansion Worker visa
3) Skilled Worker visa

1) Innovator Founder

The Innovator Founder visa was designed as a replacement for the Innovator visa and the Start­up visa categories. This category aims to attract start up entrepreneurs and experienced business owners from overseas to the UK.

The specific minimum investment requirement of £50,000 has been removed. However, the requirement to have a ‘viable’ and ‘scalable’ business idea means that, in practice, you will need to demonstrate that you have access to a level of investment funds that is sufficient to set up and grow your business. This allows greater flexibility, when compared to the route’s predecessor, especially for those who require little investment to kick­start their business.

You are required to gain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body. The Endorsing Bodies list has now been scaled down to four (Envestors, UK Endorsement Services, Innovator International, The Global Entrepreneurs Programme), which means it is more focused, more manageable, and an easier route to navigate.

The endorsing body will assess whether the business meets the required criteria. In summary, your business idea must be:

  • New: you cannot join a business that is already trading
  • Innovative: you must have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage
  • Viable: your business plan must be realistic and achievable based on your available resources, and you must have, or be actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to successfully run your business
  • Scalable: you must provide evidence of planning that includes job creation and growing into national and international markets

This visa will allow you to:

  • Set up a business or multiple businesses
  • Work for your business, which might include being employed as a director, or self­employed as a member of a business partnership
  • Do work outside of your business, provided that it is “skilled work”

Settlement in the UK

The visa is issued for an initial 3­year period. Extensions are granted for another three years, and there is currently no limit to the number of times you will be able to extend this visa. You can apply to settle permanently in the UK after three years if you fulfil the relevant eligibility requirements.

2) UK Expansion Worker

The UK Expansion Worker visa allows workers to come to the UK to set up the first UK branch or subsidiary of their overseas business. The visa is intended for senior managers, or specialist employees who are being assigned to the UK to undertake work relating to a business’s expansion to the UK. The UK Expansion Worker visa is one of five new sponsored routes under the Global Business Mobility (GMB) visa umbrella.

As a UK Expansion Worker, you will be allowed to work in the UK in the job for which you’ve been sponsored. You will also be permitted to undertake voluntary work and study in the UK.

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At Howard Kennedy LLP, we can help you achieve your objective and provide full support with the UK immigration process.

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