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UK Business Visa for Iranian Citizens

UK Business Visa for Iranian Citizens

Jun 28, 2024
Last Updated on Jun 28, 2024

The UK is an extremely attractive destination for Iranian entrepreneurs seeking to establish a new business in Europe. Ali Parsa, Farhad Moshiri, and Paris Moayedi are just some of the many British Iranians who have been extremely successful in business here.

If you are considering following in their footsteps, securing an immigration visa is a fundamental step in establishing a business in the UK. The current UK visa system offers various types, including the UK Innovator Founder visa, the Global Business Mobility visa, the visitor visa, and the Self-Sponsorship route, each designed to meet different needs. This guide will help you understand the different types of UK business visas available to Iranian 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 enables Iranian entrepreneurs to come to the UK to set up a new and innovative business. Holders of this type of visa can bring their partner and children and remain for up to 3 years. After 3 years of continuous residence, they can then apply for accelerated permanent settlement (this normally takes 5 years).

To make a successful Innovator Founder visa application, applicants must have a new, innovative, viable, and scalable business idea that has been endorsed by an approved endorsing body. They must also be able to speak, read, write and understand English to the required level and have enough funds to support themselves and their dependants.

Self-Sponsorship route

If the above business visa routes are not suitable for your needs as an Iranian entrepreneur, the Self-Sponsorship route could be a great alternative. The Self-Sponsorship route is a relatively new and innovative immigration option that allows Iranian business people to start a business in the UK and then sponsor themselves. This, in turn, then allows them to obtain a work visa to work for their own company. There are several steps in the Self-Sponsorship route applications, as follows:

  • Establish a business presence in the UK – e.g. registering your business with Companies House, opening a bank account, and finding business premises.
  • Secure a sponsor licence – Once you have set up your business, you will then need to apply for a sponsor licence from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This involves setting up the necessary systems to sponsor overseas workers.
  • Apply for a Skilled Worker visa – With your Certificate of Sponsorship from your business, you can then apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

This process might sound complex, but it opens up a fantastic opportunity to establish yourself and your business in the UK and avoids the need to work for an employer.

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

Global Business Mobility (GBM) – Expansion Worker Visa

The Global Business Mobility (GBM) Expansion Worker Visa is for Iranians with an already established business in Iran who want to send an employee or come to the UK themselves to set up a branch or subsidiary here. Applicants need to hold a certificate of sponsorship from their employer and have worked for their employer outside the UK for at least 12 months. In addition, they must have an eligible job with a salary of at least £48,500 per year or the ‘going rate’ for their job – whichever is higher.

Holders of a GBM Expansion Worker are normally allowed to stay for up to 12 months, but this can be increased by another 12 months to a maximum of 2 years in total. For those who wish to stay for more than 24 months, it is then possible to switch to a different visa type, such as a Skilled Worker visa.

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

UK Visitor Visa

If you are an Iranian business person who needs to come to the UK for less than 6 months to attend business meetings or conferences or sign contracts, you can simply apply for a UK Visitor Visa. Not only is the application process very straightforward, but it also allows Iranian nationals to come here on business at short notice. The UK visitor visa enables Iranian business people to:

  • Attend interviews, meetings, conferences and seminars
  • Negotiate and sign deals and contracts
  • Attend trade fairs to promote their business
  • Receive work-related training if employed overseas, and the training is not available in their home country
  • Provide a one-off or short series of talks as long as they are 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 their overseas company or organisation
  • Provide training or share knowledge on internal projects with UK employees of the company they work for overseas, and
  • Install, dismantle, repair, service or advise on equipment, computer software and hardware, if their overseas company has a contract with a UK company or organisation.

Before applying for a UK visitor visa for business purposes, applicants require an invitation letter from the UK business that they will be visiting.

Tips for making a successful UK business visa application from Iran

Prepare a strong visa application

Having successfully guided many hundreds of clients through the UK’s immigration system, we know from first-hand experience just how important it is to take your time to prepare a strong visa application. Time spent now will pay dividends later. First, write a clear and robust plan based on market research, financial projections, and the innovative aspects of your business. Remember, if you are applying for an Innovator Founder visa, your business will only be endorsed if you can show that it is unique, innovative, viable, and sustainable.

Take plenty of time to gather all of the necessary evidence requested by UKVI to support your application. Depending on the type of visa you apply for, this may include your source of funds, business endorsements, and evidence of your business activities in Iran and the UK. If your documents are not already in English, these will need to be translated. Doing so will ensure that your application is not held up. We also advise ensuring that any documents are presented logically and clearly.

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

The most common reasons for visa rejection are as follows:

  • Not meeting the eligibility criteria for your visa type – If you are unsure if you meet the requirements for your preferred visa type, speak to an immigration Solicitor before you apply. This will ensure that you do not waste time and money making an application that will inevitably result in a refusal.
  • Submitting an incomplete application – It is important that you complete all of the required sections of your application and submit all of the evidence requested.
  • Ignoring the process – All too often, business people making overseas applications miss important steps in the visa application process. Unfortunately, not completing each step in the right order typically leads to a refusal.
  • You do not meet the suitability criteria – If UKVI are concerned about aspects of your past history or conduct, they may refuse your application on the grounds of poor suitability. If you are concerned that this may be the case, speak to an immigration Solicitor who can help avoid such a scenario in the first place.
  • Insufficient funds – You must be able to show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family while in the UK, as well as to establish your new business venture.
  • Lack of clear business purpose – If your business plan does not set out your purpose and the benefit it will have to the UK economy, it is likely to be refused.
  • Making mistakes in the application –  Even the smallest error can lead to refusal. For this reason, it is always recommended that your application be prepared by a UK immigration solicitor.

Top 5 YouTube Video’s for Iranian nationals setting up a business in the UK

YouTube is an invaluable resource for Iranian 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 the 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 assisted many overseas businesses in successfully gaining a UK visa. In one such case, Mr. LALMALSAWMA, a successful international businessman in the construction industry, wanted to expand his business operations into Europe and chose the UK as his new base. With the closure of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur and Tier 1 Investor visas, he faced challenges finding a visa that allowed him to own and manage his UK company while living and working there. After being told by another immigration law firm that no visa met his needs, he contacted our firm for a consultation.

We successfully helped Mr LALMALSAWMA establish his UK company, obtain a sponsor licence, and secure a defined certificate of sponsorship. The skilled worker visa application was approved without any Home Office compliance visit or interview delays. Despite initial doubts, Mr LALMALSAWMA is now running his own company in the UK on a skilled worker visa, demonstrating the viability of the Self-Sponsorship route for migrants to own and manage their businesses in the UK. More details of how we helped Mr X establish a branch in the UK can be found here

Final Words

Relocating to the UK for business may be the most rewarding and profitable decision you ever make. By selecting the appropriate visa and submitting a robust application and business plan, you can turn your entrepreneurial aspirations into reality. This guide outlines essential information for Iranian nationals aiming to establish a business in the UK. It also covers the various types of business visas available, provides tips for crafting a successful application, highlights common reasons for rejection, and offers valuable 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

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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