Self-Sponsorship UK Skilled Worker Visa

Self-Sponsorship UK Skilled Worker Visa:

The UK Self-Sponsorship Skilled Worker Visa is a viable option for individuals who are interested in establishing a new business in the United Kingdom or already own an existing business in the country. By pursuing this visa, applicants have the opportunity to be sponsored by their own UK company, enabling them to work and reside in the UK.

This visa category is particularly advantageous for entrepreneurs and business owners who wish to maintain complete control over their business operations in the UK. By being self-sponsored, individuals can exercise autonomy and make independent decisions regarding their business without the need for external sponsorship.

To be eligible for the UK Self-Sponsorship Skilled Worker Visa, it is important that applicants meet the necessary requirements. These requirements may include demonstrating a good command of the English language, possessing the necessary skills and qualifications relevant to their business, and meeting the financial criteria set by the UK government.

By obtaining this visa, individuals can enjoy various benefits and opportunities in the UK. They can establish or expand their business operations, tap into the diverse UK market, and potentially contribute to the local economy. Additionally, self-sponsorship provides individuals with the flexibility to determine their own working hours and business strategies.

It is possible to settle in the UK with the self-sponsored UK Skilled Worker visa route, and dependent family members can also accompany the applicant. 

Requirements for Self-Sponsorship UK Skilled Worker Visa:

To self-sponsor yourself for a UK Skilled Worker visa, you must meet the following criteria as specified by UK Visas and Immigration:

1.     Age: You must be 18 years of age or older.

2.     Genuine UK Company: You must have an active and legitimate UK company.

3.     Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence: Your UK company must have successfully applied for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.

4.     Certificate of Sponsorship: Your UK company must have assigned a valid Certificate of Sponsorship specifically for the job you intend to undertake.

5.     Genuine Job Offer: Your job offer must be a genuine vacancy.

6.     Appropriate Skill Level: Your job must be at an appropriate skill level.

7.     Salary Threshold: You should receive a salary that meets or exceeds the general salary threshold and the 'going rate' for your occupation, along with a minimum hourly rate if applicable.

8.     Immigration Skills Charge: Your sponsor must have paid any required Immigration Skills Charge.

9.     English Language Proficiency: You must demonstrate English language proficiency at least at CEFR Level B1, equivalent to IELTS 4.0.

10.     Sufficient Financial Means: You should have enough financial resources to support yourself without relying on public funds.

11.     Criminal Record Certificate: If necessary, you must provide a criminal record certificate.

12.     TB Certificate: If required, you must provide a valid TB certificate.

It's important to note that the specific requirements for self-sponsoring a UK Skilled Worker visa may vary depending on your individual circumstances. For personalized and expert advice, it is advisable to consult an immigration lawyer.

Step-by-Step Guide: Applying for a Self-Sponsorship UK Skilled Worker Visa

Applying for a self-sponsored UK Skilled Worker visa can be a complex process. This guide will take you through the four essential steps required to successfully apply for this visa category. By following these steps diligently, you can increase your chances of obtaining the visa and achieving your professional goals in the United Kingdom.

Step 1: Establish a UK Company

The first step in the process is to establish a UK company. This involves setting up a legal entity that will act as a sponsor for your visa application. By becoming a self-sponsor, you gain the flexibility to work in the UK without relying on an employer's sponsorship. Ensure that your company meets all the necessary legal requirements and is registered appropriately.

Step 2: Apply for a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence

To proceed with your self-sponsored visa application, you need to apply for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence. This licence allows your UK company to sponsor individuals under the Skilled Worker visa category. It requires you to provide relevant information about your company, including its structure, finances, and compliance with UK immigration regulations. It is crucial to carefully complete the application, ensuring all the necessary documents are submitted.

Step 3: Assign a Certificate of Sponsorship

Once your Skilled Worker sponsor licence is granted, you can move on to the next step, which is assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). This certificate is a unique reference number that confirms your sponsorship of an individual for the Skilled Worker visa. It is essential to provide accurate and complete information about the sponsored individual, including their personal details, occupation, and salary.

Step 4: Apply for a Skilled Worker Visa

With your company's sponsorship and a Certificate of Sponsorship in hand, you can now proceed to apply for the Skilled Worker visa. This application is made by the individual who wishes to work in the UK under the sponsorship of your company. The application requires the applicant to complete relevant forms, provide supporting documents, undergo a health assessment, and pay the necessary fees. It is crucial to ensure that all the information provided is accurate and meets the visa requirements.

Applying for a self-sponsored UK Skilled Worker visa requires careful planning and adherence to the necessary steps. By establishing a UK company, obtaining a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, and submitting a comprehensive visa application, you increase your chances of obtaining this visa category successfully. Remember to double-check all the information provided and seek professional guidance if needed to ensure a smooth and successful application process.

Validating a Genuine and Lawful Business in the UK

To establish that your business is genuinely operating lawfully in the UK, it is necessary to provide a minimum of four specific documents outlined in Appendix A of the sponsor guidance to the Home Office.

The exact documents required may vary depending on the specifics of your application. Therefore, it is always advisable to seek professional advice. However, for start-up businesses that have been trading in the UK for less than 18 months, a typical Skilled Worker sponsor licence application would include the following documents:

Mandatory Document:

Proof of a current corporate bank account held with a bank registered by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority in the UK.

In addition to the mandatory document, any three of the following documents must be provided:

  1. Evidence of the business's registration with HMRC as an employer for PAYE and National Insurance.
  2. Proof of the business's registration for VAT.
  3. Verification of the business's employer's liability insurance coverage for at least £5m from an insurer authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.
  4. Documentation demonstrating ownership or lease of business premises.
  5. The most recent annual accounts of the business.

It's important to note that the specific documentation required may vary depending on your unique circumstances. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with professionals for tailored advice and guidance.

Opening a UK Business Bank Account for Non-UK Residents

While it is possible for non-UK residents to open a business bank account in the UK, the specific requirements and procedures can vary based on individual circumstances and the chosen bank.

To open a business bank account in the UK as a non-UK resident, you will typically be asked to provide identification documents such as a passport or national ID card. However, obtaining proof of address may be more challenging for non-residents. Additionally, proof of income or the source of funding may also be required.

Some banks may mandate that you have a UK address or maintain tax residency in the UK. It's important to note that certain types of accounts, such as basic bank accounts, may be the only options available for non-UK residents with some banks.

It's worth researching different banks and their specific requirements for non-UK residents. Directly contacting the banks will allow you to gather information on the necessary documents and details needed to open a business bank account. Keep in mind that while some banks may require an in-person visit to a branch, others may offer online account opening options.

For a smooth process and to ensure compliance with the bank's criteria, it is advisable to consult with a professional who can guide you through the available options and help meet all the bank's requirements.

Is Active Trading Required for a UK Business?

For your UK business, it is necessary to be registered with Companies House, hold a UK business bank account, and, in most cases, be registered for PAYE/NI and VAT. However, it is not mandatory for the business to be actively trading or have generated revenue in the UK.

Nevertheless, demonstrating that your UK business is a genuine and lawful entity can be easier if certain conditions are met. For instance:

  1. Existing Overseas Business: If you have an actively trading overseas business, establishing a branch of that business in the UK can provide a legitimate business case.
  2. Detailed Business Plan: Presenting a comprehensive business plan for your UK business enhances its credibility.
  3. Sufficient Investment Funds: Having adequate investment funds, especially for staffing costs, demonstrates your ability to operate the UK business effectively.
  4. Early Stage Business Activities: Engaging in preliminary business activities in the UK, such as setting up a functional website, telephone number, and email address, can bolster the legitimacy of your UK business.

While active trading is not a prerequisite, fulfilling the aforementioned conditions increases the likelihood of satisfying the Home Office that your UK business is a genuine and law-abiding organisation in the UK.

Ability to Fulfill Sponsor Duties as a Business:

All licensed sponsors have certain duties that must be fulfilled. As a licensed sponsor, your responsibilities will include recording duties, record-keeping duties, and compliance with UK immigration laws.

To assess your business's capability of carrying out its sponsor duties, the Home Office will evaluate your current human resources and recruitment systems and practices. They will examine whether you have established systems in place to track the attendance of sponsored workers and identify when their current permission is nearing expiration. Additionally, the Home Office may conduct a compliance audit, either prior to deciding on your application or after granting your license.

Our sponsor licence application service includes an extensive Human Resources policy and procedure package for our clients. This package consists of various components such as a job description analysis, a Sponsor Licence Policy guide, guidance on Right to Work Checks, a record-keeping checklist, templates for record keeping, as well as continuous advice on HR systems and procedures.

Valid Employment Meeting Salary and Skill Level Requirements

In addition to assessing your company's documentation in the UK, the Home Office aims to ensure the following:

  1. Skill Level Requirement: The employment offered by your UK company meets the skill level requirement of the UK Skilled Worker route, typically at or above RQF Level 3.
  2. Salary Level Requirement: The employment offered by your UK company meets the salary level requirement of the UK Skilled Worker route, generally a minimum of £26,200 per year. However, alternative salary thresholds of £23,580 or £20,960 per year may apply if you, as the worker, score alternative 'tradable points.'
  3. Genuine Job Offer: The job you seek to sponsor is authentic and not fabricated.
  4. Employer-Employee Relationship: A direct employer-employee relationship exists between the sponsoring business and the worker. While workers can be employed overseas, self-employment is permitted in certain circumstances.
  5. Non-Outsourcing of Roles: The business does not intend to sponsor a role where a worker would be hired to perform ongoing or routine duties for a third party.

As part of your company's sponsor licence application, you will be required to provide the following additional information to the Home Office:

  1. Purpose and Sector: An explanation of why your company is seeking a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, along with details about the sector in which you operate and your business's opening/operating hours.
  2. Organisational Structure: A current hierarchy chart outlining the owner, director, and board members' positions.
  3. Employee List: If your business employs 50 individuals or fewer, a list of employees, including their names and job titles.
  4. Job Details: Information regarding the positions your company intends to fill and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for. This includes the job title, occupation code, duties, position within the hierarchy chart, minimum guaranteed salary if the role were vacant, and the required skills, experience, and qualifications.
  5. Identification of Pre-Selected Candidates: If the intended role for a CoS has not been advertised and a candidate has already been identified, details must be provided on how the individual was selected as the most suitable person for the job, along with relevant personal information.

By submitting these details, you can demonstrate that your company offers genuine employment opportunities that meet the necessary requirements for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence.

Appointment of Key Personnel:

Prior to submitting your sponsor licence application, it is necessary to appoint three Key Personnel as follows:

  1. Authorising Officer: This individual will manage the sponsorship licence and hold ultimate responsibility for ensuring compliance with sponsor licence duties.
  2. Key Contact: This person will serve as the primary liaison between your business and the Home Office.
  3. Level 1 User: At least one individual will be designated as a Level 1 User to carry out day-to-day sponsorship activities using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

Regarding self-sponsorship, the following key personnel requirements should be noted:

  1. Key Personnel Roles: The same person or a combination of different individuals can fulfill the Key Personnel roles.
  2. Location Requirement: Each Key Personnel member (or the sole person if all roles are filled by the same individual) must be based in the UK at the time of appointment and throughout their tenure in the role.
  3. Qualifications: The Authorising Officer and initial Level 1 User must be paid directors, employees, or office holders (such as a company secretary) of the UK entity at the time of application.
  4. Oversight and Responsibility: The Authorising Officer must possess sufficient oversight over the UK business to fulfill their responsibilities.
  5. Nationality or Settled Status: The Level 1 User must be either British or settled in the UK.

Practically, to apply for a UK Skilled Worker visa through self-sponsorship, you will need to have a trusted individual based in the UK who is either British or settled and whom you are willing to appoint as a paid director, employee, or office holder of your UK business.

When contemplating the use of a third-party agent to serve as a UK Director and Authorising Officer in exchange for payment, it is crucial to assess how the agent will establish their significant participation and supervision in your UK enterprise in order to meet the Home Office's criteria.

Assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

After the approval of your company's sponsor licence application, you can proceed to apply for and assign a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for each migrant worker you intend to employ.

Certificates of Sponsorship serve as electronic records and are necessary for each worker's application for a self-sponsored UK Skilled Worker visa. Each CoS carries a unique reference number.

It's important to note that the CoS issued must be no older than 3 months from the date of your UK Skilled Worker visa application.

The Certificate of Sponsorship should contain the following mandatory information:

  1. Your name, job position, and salary details.
  2. A start date within 3 months of your Skilled Worker visa application.
  3. Confirmation that the Certificate of Sponsorship has not been used in a previous application that was either granted or refused, and it has not been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office.

UK Immigration rules are complex and challenging which is why we work to our client's best interest and understand what is at stake.

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