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UK Business Visa for Indian Citizens

UK Business Visa for Indian Citizens

Jun 27, 2024
Last Updated on Jul 17, 2024

Moving to the UK to set up a new business venture offers a truly exciting opportunity for many Indian entrepreneurs. Before you go too far, it is essential to do your homework. Understanding the best visa for your needs, how to maximise your chance of receiving a positive decision, and researching how to establish a profitable and sustainable business in the UK will transform your chances of success. An immigration visa is a key prerequisite to establishing a business in the UK as an Indian national. Once you have your visa, the sky is the limit. Under the UK’s current visa system, there are several different visa types catering for different needs, including the UK Innovator Founder visa, the Global Mobility visa, the visitor visa, and the Self-Sponsorship route.

This guide will help you understand the different types of UK business visas available to Indian nationals and how to choose the right one for your needs.

Types of visas to open a new business in the UK

UK Innovator Founder Visa

The UK Innovator Founder Visa is designed for Indian business people looking to establish an innovative business in the UK. As an Innovator Founder visa holder, you will be able to bring your immediate family members with you and stay for up to 3 years, at which point you can apply to settle permanently. As such, this route provides an accelerated route to settlement compared to the normal 5 years of continuous residence required. To apply, you must:

  • Have a new, innovative, viable, and scalable business idea
  • Have your business idea endorsed by an approved endorsing body
  • Be able to speak, read, write and understand English to the required level, and
  • Have enough money to support yourself while in the UK.

Self-Sponsorship route

For Indian entrepreneurs who do not fit into the above categories, the Self-Sponsorship route may be the perfect option. Self-sponsorship is an innovative UK immigration route that involves setting up a business in the UK and then sponsoring yourself for a work visa. To apply for a Self-Sponsorship route, you will need to:

  1. Establish a UK business – this may involve registering your business with Companies House, setting up a bank account, and finding suitable premises
  2. Sponsor licence – Once you have established your business, you can apply for a sponsor licence. To do so, you will need to put in place the necessary systems and processes to sponsor overseas workers and
  3. Skilled Worker visa – once you have been issued a Certificate of Sponsorship by your business, you can apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

Types of UK business visas to expand my current business in the UK market

Global Business Mobility (GBM) – Expansion Worker Visa

For Indian citizens with an existing business in India who wish to expand their operations into the UK, the Global Business Mobility (GBM) Expansion Worker Visa is ideal. This visa allows established businesses to send workers to the UK to set up a branch or subsidiary here. To make a successful GBM Expansion Worker visa, you must

  • Hold a valid certificate of sponsorship from your employer
  • Have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least one year
  • Have an eligible job and
  • Receive a salary of at least £48,500 per year or the ‘going rate’ for your job – whichever is higher.

If your visa is granted, you will be able to stay for up to one year initially, and this can be further extended for another year. To stay for longer than 2 years in total, you can switch to a different visa type.

Types of UK business visas to visit the UK for a business meeting

UK Visitor Visa

If your purpose is to visit the UK for no longer than 6 months for business meetings, conferences, or signing contracts, the UK Visitor Visa will most likely meet your needs. The application process is very straightforward and quick, allowing Indian nationals to come here on business at short notice.

You can use a UK visitor visa for any of the following business activities:

  • Attend interviews, meetings, conferences and seminars
  • Negotiate and sign deals and contracts
  • Attend trade fairs to promote your business
  • Receive work-related training if you’re employed overseas, and the training is not available in your home country
  • Provide a one-off or short series of talks as long as they’re not for profit or a commercial event
  • Perform site visits and inspections
  • Oversee the delivery of goods and services provided by a UK company to your overseas company or organisation
  • Provide training or share knowledge on internal projects with UK employees of the company you work for overseas, and
  • Install, dismantle, repair, service or advise on equipment, computer software and hardware, if your overseas company has a contract with a UK company or organisation.

To apply for a visitor visa for business purposes, you will need an invitation letter from the UK business you are visiting.

Types of UK business visas for visiting the UK on a temporary business project

India Young Professionals Scheme visa

The India Young Professionals Scheme visa allows Indian citizens aged between 18 and 30 years old to live and work in the UK for a period of up to 2 years. To apply under this scheme, applicants first have to enter a ballot. Applicants are then randomly selected periodically from the pool and invited to submit a full application. The scheme is currently capped at 3,000 people.

India Young Professionals Scheme visa applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria before entering the ballot:

  • be an Indian national aged between 18 and 30 years old
  • be 18 years or over on the date they plan to travel to the UK
  • hold a bachelor’s degree level or above (this must be at RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
  • have £2,530 in savings to support themselves during their time in the UK (this must have been held for at least 28 consecutive days), and
  • not have any child dependants

Once applicants have applied online, proved their identity and provided any required documents, a decision is normally made within 3 weeks.

If granted, the visa allows holders to study, work in most jobs and be self-employed and set up a company.

Tips for making a successful UK business visa application from India

Prepare a strong visa application

To increase the chances of your UK business visa application being approved by the Home Office first time, it is important to clearly outline your business plan, including market research, financial projections, and the innovative aspects of your business. Putting together your business plan and financial projections should not be rushed; it is important to take your time and ensure that you meet the requirements for endorsement.

Another key to success is taking the time to gather all necessary documents required for your business visa to the UK from India, such as financial statements, business endorsements, and evidence of your business activities in India and the UK. If necessary, ensure that these are translated into English, as failure to do so may result in your application being delayed. Make sure that the documents are presented logically and clearly so that the case officer deciding your application can easily find the information they require.

To ensure that you have the strongest possible application, have yours prepared by an experienced UK immigration Solicitor who can handle the process on your behalf and deal with any questions or queries raised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Understand the common reasons for rejection

Understanding the common business visa application pitfalls can help you avoid them in the first place. The most common reasons for rejection are as follows:

  • Simply not meeting the eligibility criteria – Make sure that you meet all of the criteria before you apply. If you are not sure, speak to an immigration Solicitor. Even it the best application will be refused if you do not meet a small aspect of the eligibility requirements.
  • Incomplete applications – Always make sure that all sections of your application are filled out completely and accurately.
  • Not following the correct process – Don’t cut corners when making your visa application. Not completing each step in the right order is likely to lead to rejection.
  • Suspicion that you do not have a genuine intention to set up a business in the UK
  • Insufficient funds – Demonstrate that you have the necessary financial resources to support your stay and business activities.
  • Lack of clear business purpose – Your business plan must be well-defined and show a clear purpose and benefit to the UK economy.
  • Errors and mistakes – ticking the wrong box or any other minor error may result in your application being refused – have your application checked by an immigration Solicitor before it is submitted.

Top 5 YouTube Videos for Indian nationals setting up a business in the UK

YouTube is an invaluable resource for Indian nationals who want to start a business in the UK. Here are the top 5 that we recommend you watch:

AY&J Solicitors: How to Start Your Business in the UK – Offers detailed insights into visa requirements and business setup in the UK.

AY&J Solicitors: UK Innovator Founder Visa – explains all you need to know about this visa route

AY&J Solicitors: UK Innovator Founder Visa – Best Way To Self Sponsor UK Visa 2024 – UK Visa Application Process For Self Sponsorship Work Permit

Curiosity Insight: How to Start a Business in the UK as a Foreigner? Starting a Business in UK as a Foreigner – discussed opening a bank account and choosing your business structure

UK Knowledge Guru: How to Start a Company in the UK – UK Business Formation Online with Companies House.

Success story – establishing a business in the UK as a foreign national

AY&J has helped many overseas businesses successfully gain the permission needed to establish a new branch or subsidiary in the UK. In one such case, we assisted a Director of a thriving UK IT consultancy and subsidiary of a US company in making a successful application for a UK sponsor licence, allowing him to recruit staff here. We ensured that all requirements were met and offered detailed advice on managing and recording sponsored workers. Our clear, strategic support helped our client navigate the complexities, resulting in the successful approval of the sponsor licence with an A-rating. Mr X continues to rely on AY&J Solicitors for further skilled worker visa applications. More details of how we helped Mr X establish a branch in the UK can be found here

Final Words

Moving to the UK for business can be a rewarding experience. By choosing the right visa and preparing a strong application, you can make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

In this guide, we have covered the key points for Indian nationals looking to set up a business in the UK, including the types of business visas available, tips for making a successful application, the common reasons for rejection, and some useful resources.

Still confused about what visa route to take or unable to find a visa route? Get a free assessment with one of our experts at AY&J Solicitors.

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A Y & J Solicitors is a multi-award winning, 14+ years experienced, recommended by Legal 500, boutique UK immigration law firm based in Central London. Having assisted 5000+ clients, we are well equipped to help you with our ‘In It To Win It’ approach. For your assurance and confidence, we are pleased to share our trust rating of 4.9/5 based on 1000+ reviews on Trustpilot & Google.

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