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Whether you’re a UK company hiring top talent from outside the EU, or you’re an entrepreneur setting up shop in the UK, you might consider getting professional legal advice with your visa application. As it can be a tricky process, getting a UK immigration solicitor to assist with the process can free up your time to work on the most important thing: running your business.

The visa categories that you are most likely to be interested in are as follows (more information below):

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Tier 1

Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)

If you’re a non-European, foreign national wishing to start up and run a business in the United Kingdom, the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa is the main ‘gateway’ for you to work and live in the UK. The entrepreneur visa lasts for up to 3 years and 4 months, beyond which you could also apply for an extension and eventually seek ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK.

Not only are the rules complex, supplying the mountain of documentary evidence to support your application is a massive burden. Remember, you’ll also be relying on your investors and bankers to help you supply the paperwork, so knowing exactly what’s required is super important. You can read more about the process here.

Tier 1 (Investor)

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa if you want to invest £2,000,000 or more in the UK. Your funds must be held in one or more regulated financial institutions and free to spend (‘disposable’) in the UK.

Under this visa, you can invest £2,000,000 or more in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital in active and trading UK registered companies. You can work or study, and you can apply to settle in the UK after 2 years if you invest £10 million. You can apply to settle after 3 years if you invest £5 million.

Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur)

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa if you are a graduate who has been officially endorsed as having a genuine and credible business idea.

You must be endorsed by either UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) as part of the elite global graduate entrepreneur programme (Sirius) or a UK higher education institution (HEI) if it’s an authorised endorsing body.

Under this visa, you can bring family members with you; extend your stay in the UK; and switch into this visa from some other visa categories. However, you can’t get public funds, work as a doctor or dentist in training, work as a professional sportsperson, or settle in the UK on this visa.

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)

You can apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you’ve been endorsed in your field in science, humanities, engineering, medicine, digital technology or the arts as:

There’s a 2-stage application process to get this visa. You first need to apply to the Home Office for endorsement as a leader or an emerging leader in your particular field. Then, once you have been endorsed, you can apply for the visa.

There are limited places available under this visa category, with 500 places released on both 6 April and 1 October each year.

Under this visa, you can stay in the UK for up to 5 years and 4 months if you apply outside the UK, and 5 years if you apply inside the UK.

You can work for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed; change jobs without telling the Home Office; do voluntary work; travel abroad and return to the UK; and bring family members with you.

You can’t get public funds, work as a doctor or dentist in training, or work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.

Tier 2

Tier 2 (General)

Hiring the best talent can give your company an enormous edge. If you’re looking to hire someone from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, your best bet might be to sponsor them under the Tier 2 Sponsored Visa Scheme.

To do this, your company will first need a sponsor ‘licence’ from UK Border Agency, then meet a number of strict hiring and job requirements. There’s a tonne of paperwork and the rules are complex, but as a licenced sponsor you’ll be able to tap into a truly global workforce. You can read more about the process here.

Tier 2 (Intra company transfer)

You can apply for a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa if your overseas employer has offered you a role in a UK branch of the organisation and you meet the other eligibility requirements.You would need to be sponsored (have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor) and your work in the UK needs to relate to the work of your sponsor organisation.

Why you'll love Lexoo

Meet a Lexoo Immigration Solicitor, Jayanti


Jayanti is a dynamic multilingual Solicitor with over 7 years’ experience in immigration and nationality law, including 6 years in a No 1 rated immigration practice (in Chambers and the Legal 500). She has extensive experience advising major corporate clients and high net worth individuals (including an ex-prime minister, as well as an individual named in the Forbes 100 list) and experience in making sponsorship licence applications.

“Helping us with a Sponsorship application, Jayanti provided clear advice and followed up in a timely fashion. Her knowledge and contacts in the area ensured we submitted the correct information and avoided unnecessary delays due to further clarification being sought.”
- Piton Capital, Jan 2016
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