As one of the premier destinations for Indian nationals who wish to emigrate, the UK offers a wide range of flexible work, business, study, and family immigration routes. Indian nationals who wish to settle permanently in the UK first require a suitable visa and must then reside here continuously for a qualifying period (normally 5 years) before then applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). With ILR, you will be able to live, work, and study here on a permanent basis without being subject to immigration control. And after a further 12 months, you can apply for British citizenship. In this article, we will discuss the main immigration routes for Indian nationals who wish to come here to work or start a business.
Under the current immigration system in the UK, there are several work visa types that are open to Indian nationals; these include the:
The Skilled Worker visa is the most popular immigration option for overseas nationals who wish to work in the UK. To apply for a Skilled Worker visa, you will need to demonstrate to the Home Office that you:
You will need to pay an application fee of between £625 to £1,423, in addition to the healthcare surcharge (for access to healthcare in the UK) at the cost of £624 per year per person.
If your Skilled Worker visa application is successful, you will be able to stay for up to 5 years (depending on the duration of your sponsorship) and then apply for ILR.
A Health and Care Worker visa enables Indian nationals with a background in the medical profession to work in the NHS, an NHS supplier or in adult social care. Health and Care Worker visa applicants must:
As a Health and Care Worker visa holder, you can stay in the UK for up to 5 years (depending on the duration of your sponsorship), at which time you apply for ILR. If you have a qualifying job offer in a health and care occupation, you will benefit from a lower application fee and an exemption from paying the healthcare surcharge.
The Global Talent visa is open to Indian nationals who are leaders or potential leaders in the areas of:
As a Global Talent visa holder, you will be able to live in the UK for up to 5 years, and depending on your area of expertise, you may be able to gain settlement here after 3 or 5 years of continuous residence. As such, this provides one of the fastest routes to ILR of all UK visas.
To apply for a Global Talent visa, you will need to be endorsed by a recognised UK body that is approved by the Home Office or have won an eligible award. Your employer does not need to have a sponsor licence from the Home Office.
The Global Business Mobility scheme is relatively new and replaced a number of existing visas, including the Intra-Company Transfer visa. The aim of the Global Business Mobility visa is to make it easier for overseas companies to do business in the UK, including Indian companies with interests here. Under the Global Business Mobility (GBM) scheme, there are five separate visas:
Your employer must have a Sponsor Licence from the Home office.
Under the GBM route, your Visa can be granted for up to 5 years in any 6-year period. High-earning senior or specialist workers (SSWs) are an exception, and they may be granted up to nine years in any ten-year period.
The High Potential Individual (HPI) visa is open to Indian nationals who have graduated in the last 5 years from an eligible top international university. HPI visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 2 years (or 3 years for those with a PhD). The HPI visa cannot be extended, but it is possible to switch to another type of Visa once in the country. To apply for an HPI visa, you must:
You will need to pay an HPI visa application fee of £715 in addition to the healthcare surcharge of £624 per year per person.
The UK Innovator visa is open to experienced entrepreneurs from India with a new, innovative, viable and scalable business idea. The business you intend to run must not already exist, or if it does, trading must not have yet started. Most importantly, to apply for this visa, you will need at least £50,000 in investment funds (unless an exception applies). You must also be endorsed by a UK-approving body which has assessed your plan as being innovative, viable and scalable, and you must meet the English language requirements of at least CEFR level B2. The UK Innovator Visa is valid for up to three years, at which point you can then apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).
Alternatively, the Start-Up Visa is open to Indian nationals who wish to establish a new, innovative, viable and scalable business but without the requirement for investment funds. Start-up visa applicants also have their business plan endorsed by an authorised body – either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation that has a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs. It is important to note that the Start-up visa route does not provide a route to permanent settlement in the UK, but holders can consider switching to another visa category if they wish to stay in the UK longer.
Self-Sponsorship is an alternative option for Indian nationals who wish to set up a business in the UK. It allows applicants to come and work in the UK for their own business without the need for a UK sponsor. This route can lead to permanent residency and British citizenship for the applicant and their family. This option is suitable for successful business people who want to own, lead, manage and maintain their UK business, and live without the fear of losing their UK visa. To qualify for self-sponsorship, applicants must have experience, skills or qualifications in the area of the business they want to establish, have adequate resources to support their proposed business in the UK, and pass an approved English language test at Level B1. There is no minimum or maximum investment required, as it depends on the business need and may range from £25,000 or more.
If you have recently graduated with a degree of higher level qualification at a UK university, you may be eligible to apply for a Graduate visa. The Graduate visa will allow you to stay in the UK once you have completed your course of study to work or look for work for up to two years. If you are a doctoral student, you can stay for up to three years. Your work can be at any skill level, and your employer does not need to have a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office.
A graduate visa offers significant flexibility and allows holders to switch jobs with ease. However, please note you cannot extend this Visa. You can, however, switch to a different visa while still in the UK.
On 4th May 2021, the governments of the UK and India reached a migration agreement allowing young Indian people between the ages of 18 – 30 to work in the UK for up to two years (and vice versa). The agreement led to the creation of the new India Young Professionals Scheme. The India Young Professionals Scheme is expected to formally launch on the 28th February 2023, and details are due to be released by the Home Office.
It is expected that the new India Professional Scheme will be similar to the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa and will make it easy for eligible candidates from India to come here to travel, live and work flexibly in the UK. Those who use this route will be able to work for any employer and switch jobs freely during their time in the UK. Like the Youth Mobility Scheme visa, it is likely that India Professional Scheme visa holders will not be able to extend their stay, but they will be able to apply for another visa from within the UK. Because the new scheme is expected to be subject to a cap of 3,000 places, it will be imperative to apply early once the ballot opens to ensure you have a strong chance of being granted a visa
While full details of the India Professional Scheme are yet to be announced, it is expected that applicants will require at least £2,530 in savings and have enough savings to support themselves during their stay. Applicants will also need to be qualified to a degree or diploma level with at least three years of higher-level education.
After the two years granted under this scheme, visa holders will be able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa if their employer is able to sponsor them.
The UK offers enormous opportunities for Indian nationals who wish to work or set up in business here. It is important to be aware of all the immigration options available to you and select the route that is most suited to your background, requirements, and those of your family members. To check which Visa is most suitable for your needs, speak to an immigration Solicitor who can advise based on your unique circumstances.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm with extensive experience with all types of visa applications. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your visa application or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +44 20 7404 7933 or at contact us today. We’re here to help!