With the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, there is an increasing need to look for new migration routes in order to be able to migrate to the UK. Prior to Brexit, a person from the European Union could reside in the UK without any restrictions, but, from 2021 onwards, Europeans who want to reside in the UK for the first time cannot do so freely, and must first obtain a work visa, investor visa, graduate visa, student visa, family visa, etc.
This means that now, both non-Europeans and Europeans need a visa to come and live in the UK.
The UK offers various visa routes for people who wish to set up and run a business, for individuals who have long or short term job offers, for talented and promising people in certain sectors, for UK university graduates, amongst others.
These categories, collectively referred to as “Business Immigration”, require the accumulation of points for various qualifying factors depending on the route in question: X points for salary, X points for professional qualifications, etc. In addition, most business visas require the applicant to have the sponsorship of a company or the backing of an endorsing body.
Business visas are difficult to obtain and are unfortunately targeted at the most privileged sectors. For example, the Innovator Founder Visa, which replaces the “Innovator visa” and “Start-up visa” categories from April 2023, is aimed at entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in the UK. Applicants do not need to have any specific level of funds (previously they were required to show £50,000) to invest in their proposed business, but must have an innovative, viable and scalable business idea, backed by a business plan, which has been approved by an endorsing body.
The first obstacle to obtaining the visa in question lies in the difficulty of proving to a Home Office official that the idea is “novel”, followed by the second obstacle of obtaining endorsement from one of the very few bodies that are authorised by the Home Office to do so. To illustrate, if I have the idea of setting up a taco shop in the UK and I have a well-founded business plan as well as the necessary experience and funds, I would still not be able to obtain the Innovative Founder visa; firstly, as there are already restaurants that sell tacos in the UK, and secondly because I would not be able to obtain the backing of one of the endorsing bodies.
Continuing with the previous example, let’s say I don’t want to set up a taqueria but come to work in one. Can I get a visa? No. The noble job of a taquero is not on the list of professions that are allowed to obtain a work visa.
In conclusion, although business visas do exist, they are ultimately difficult to obtain and very few people meet the necessary requirements to obtain them.
Manuel Padilla Behar is a solicitor specialising in immigration law and is the owner of MPB Solicitors. You can contact him here.