Setting Up A Limited Company As a Tier 2 Visa Holder (Self Sponsorship)
One of the more common questions that we come across is whether a Tier 2 General Visa holder can start their own Limited Company, and, potentially, be sponsored by it. As you may imagine, the rules around self-employment are somewhat unclear when it comes to Tier 2. We know that every single visa applicant needs to have some form of sponsorship to be eligible to apply, but this can actually take various forms as far as the type of employment is concerned. So, in this article, we are going to look at the options for those who are looking to work for themselves in the UK while on a visa, and whether it is possible to set up a limited company and sponsor yourself under the Tier 2 General Visa route.
Can I Set Up A Limited Company While In The UK On A Tier 2 General Visa?
The immigration rules layout that you can set up a limited company while living in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa, as this would not necessarily affect your immigration status (as long as you were not actively working in the business). The trouble with owning a limited company as a Tier 2 General Visa holder is if you decided to try and use this company as your sponsor; the rules state that you must not own more than 10% of the shares of the business that sponsors you (unless you will earn in excess of £165,000 per year). If you were one of the majority shareholders of the business, you are likely to have well in excess of 10% of the shareholding, and therefore be ineligible to use this option. For this reason, the vast majority of entrepreneurs looking to come to the UK would use an alternative visa route such as the Innovator Visa - which allows applicants the opportunity to come to the UK to get their business off of the ground (after receiving an endorsement). This visa would allow the applicant the opportunity to not only start and own their own business in the UK but also be able to work within it in a full-time capacity.
While we do not necessarily want to dissuade you from starting a business as a Tier 2 General Visa holder, you need to be aware of some of the limitations that will be placed on you. Already in the UK on a Tier 2 General Visa and looking for options? Well, you could opt to switch to the Innovator Visa route from the Tier 2 General Visa if that works better for your current circumstances. Of course, if you would prefer to stay with your sponsor, you could remain on your Tier 2 General Visa and launch your new venture on the side, but beware of the strict limits that are imposed. If you wish to discuss your options, call today and a member of our team will be happy to help.
Can My Own Limited Company Sponsor My Stay In The UK Under The Tier 2 General Visa Route?
As we laid out previously, it is certainly possible for you to be sponsored by a business that you own a portion of, but this needs to be less than 10% (unless you will earn more than £165,000 per year). For the majority of business owners, this situation is not going to work. Under these circumstances, you may be better opting for a different tactic.
If you wanted to work for yourself but remain compliant (and employed by your current sponsor) then you could try freelancing on the side. This will give you the taste of working for yourself without needing to jump into a whole new business. As long as the new line of work is in the same vein and level as your sponsored job, you will be allowed to work in the business for 20 hours per week without affecting your immigration status. Another option is switching from being employed in your industry to being self-employed. While this can be a difficult feat to achieve, many Tier 2 General Visa holders are able to satisfy their immigration conditions and work for themselves on a contracted basis with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder. If you wish to find out more about self-employment options and the Tier 2 General Visa route, call today and speak to a member of our team.
Are There Better Alternatives To Trying To Self-Sponsor My Stay In The UK?
Potentially, yes. As we've discussed earlier in the article, options such as working on a self-employed basis for a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holder or freelancing in your industry are great alternatives to self-sponsorship. There is also the option of launching a business using the Innovator Visa route, which is the tried and tested method for those who want to work in their new business fulltime.
Whatever you choose, there is a surprising amount of flexibility available to those who hold a Tier 2 General Visa, but you must ensure that you keep within the rules to ensure that you are not putting yourself at risk. There is zero tolerance from the Home Office when it comes to their rules being broken, and therefore it is vital that you get the advice that you need to ensure that whatever you choose to do, you remain compliant. For help with Tier 2 General Visa compliance, get in touch today and speak to our team about changing your employment type on a Tier 2 General Visa.
Getting More Help
If you need some advice with regards to getting into your own business on a Tier 2 General Visa then please get in touch. Our experienced immigration solicitors can give you great advice that helps you to make the most of business opportunities in the UK while remaining compliant with the immigration rules. So, for more, get in touch today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team.