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UK Business Visa for Saudi Citizens

UK Business Visa for Saudi Citizens

Jun 27, 2024
Last Updated on Jun 27, 2024

Moving to the UK to launch a new business venture offers an enticing commercial and lifestyle opportunity for many Saudi entrepreneurs. From the dynamic financial hubs of London to the innovative tech scenes in cities like Manchester and Birmingham, the prospects of commercial growth and success are considerable. The UK’s strong economy, diverse business market, and rich cultural scene make it an attractive destination for business-minded individuals.

For Saudi nationals, securing a visa is a vital prerequisite for establishing a business in the UK. The UK offers several visa types tailored to different business needs, including the UK Innovator Founder visa, the Global Mobility visa, the Visitor visa, and the Self-Sponsorship route. Each visa type has its specific criteria and benefits, and choosing the right one can significantly enhance your business prospects.

Types of visas to open a new business in the UK

UK Innovator Founder Visa

The UK’s Innovator Founder Visa is ideal for Saudi entrepreneurs with plans to launch a new and innovative business here. You can bring your immediate family members and stay for up to three years, after which you may apply for permanent settlement. As such, this visa provides a faster route to settlement compared to the standard five-year residency requirement.

To be eligible for an Innovator Founder Visa, you must have a new, innovative, viable, and scalable business idea that has been endorsed by an approved endorsing body. You will also need to speak, read, write, and understand English to the required level and have enough money to support yourself and your family during your stay in the UK.

Self-Sponsorship route

Another popular business immigration option for Saudi entrepreneurs is the Self-Sponsorship route. Self-sponsorship allows Saudi citizens to set up a business in the UK and then sponsor themselves. There are three main steps to apply for a Self-Sponsorship route, as follows:

  1. Set up a UK business – i.e. find premises, register your business, and open a bank account.
  2. Sponsor licence application – Having set up your business, you can then apply for a sponsor licence. To do so, you will need to demonstrate to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) that your business has the systems and processes needed to sponsor overseas staff.
  3. Skilled Worker visa application – Having been issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship by your business, you are then in a position to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

At A Y & J, one of our expert business immigration Solicitors can handle this process for you from start to finish. We will explain the requirements, guide you through the sponsor licence process, and prepare and submit your visa application on your behalf.

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

Global Business Mobility (GBM) – Expansion Worker Visa

If you are a Saudi national with an existing business (or you are a representative of that business), the Global Business Mobility (GBM) Expansion Worker Visa will enable you to set up a branch or subsidiary here. To apply, you must have a certificate of sponsorship and have worked within the Saudi business for at least one year in an eligible job. You will also need an annual salary of at least £48,500 per year, or the ‘going rate’ for your job – whichever is higher.

Once your visa has been granted, you can remain in the UK for up to 12 months initially, and this can be further extended for another 12 months. After 2 years, you can then switch to a different visa type, allowing you to stay longer and even settle permanently.

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

UK Visitor Visa

If you are a Saudi citizen planning to come to the UK for up to 6 months to attend business meetings or conferences or sign contracts, you can apply for a UK Visitor Visa. Because visitor visas are quick and easy to apply for, Saudi nationals can come here on business on short notice.

It is important to check that you are coming to the UK for a permitted reason; these are to:

  • 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 visit the UK for business as a Saudi national, you will need an invitation letter from the UK business you are planning to visit.

Tips for making a successful UK business visa application from Saudi

If you are a Saudi national aiming to set up a business in the UK, here is how you can increase the chances of your UK business visa application being approved by the Home Office on the first attempt:

Prepare a strong visa application backed up by a comprehensive business plan

Clearly set out your new business plans, including thorough market research and detailed financial projections. Highlight the innovative aspects of your business and take the time to fully meet the endorsement requirements. If you are unsure of the endorsement requirements, speak to an immigration Solicitor or the endorsing body directly.

Carefully prepare your evidence and documentation

Collect all of the essential documents required for your UK business visa application, such as financial statements, business endorsements, and evidence of your business activities both in Saudi and the UK. Ensure all documents are translated into English if necessary. Present them logically and clearly so the case officer can easily find the required information.

Get professional advice from an immigration Solicitor

Consider having your application prepared (or at least checked over) by an experienced UK immigration solicitor. They can handle the process on your behalf and address any questions or queries raised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), increasing the likelihood of making a successful application.

Common Reasons for Rejection

Even the smallest error or oversight can lead to the refusal of a business visa application. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid:

  • Not meeting the eligibility criteria – Ensure you meet all of the applicable eligibility requirements before applying. Consult an immigration solicitor if you are uncertain about any aspect.
  • Submitting an incomplete application – Fill out all sections of your application honestly, completely and accurately.
  • Following the incorrect process – Always follow the correct application process without cutting corners. Following the wrong process will almost certainly lead to refusal.
  • Concerns that you are not a genuine applicant – it is vital that you convey yourself as a candidate with a genuine intention to set up a business in the UK
  • Lack of support funds – You will need to show that you have the necessary financial resources to support your stay and business activities.
  • Not meeting the English language requirement
  • Old or expired documents
  • Unclear business purpose – Your business plan should have a well-defined purpose and clearly benefit the UK economy.
  • Errors and mistakes – Minor mistakes, like ticking the wrong box, can result in rejection. Have your application checked by an immigration solicitor before submission.

By meticulously preparing your application, gathering all necessary documents, and seeking professional advice, you can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a UK business visa and embarking on your entrepreneurial journey in the UK.

Prepare a strong visa application

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

YouTube is an excellent source of information for Saudi 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

Kate Corey, originally from Tennessee, faced significant challenges in finding a visa route as a self-employed individual owning a small business. Despite consultations with various Solicitors, she was repeatedly told that no viable option existed. However, when she connected with A Y & J Solicitors, her situation changed dramatically.

Choosing A Y & J Solicitors due to their strong reputation, Kate received a thorough consultation where her extensive research was attentively reviewed. The firm proposed a straightforward solution: establishing a UK Ltd company, obtaining a Sponsor License, and sponsoring herself, which proved successful.

More details of how we helped Kate apply through the self-sponsorship route can be found here

Final Words

Moving to Great Britain from Saudi to set up and run a business can be an extremely rewarding experience. By choosing the most suitable visa and preparing a strong application, you can make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

In this guide, we have covered the key points for Saudi 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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