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Is it possible for a skilled worker (tier 2) migrant to start up a business in the UK?

The short answer is yes, but the detailed answer is – it is more complicated than you may initially envisage. 

A common question from our clients on a skilled worker visa (previously known as tier 2) is whether they can set up a company, whilst they are on a skilled worker visa. 

The answer is, it very much depends. The skilled worker visa allows foreign nationals from abroad to reside in the UK and work for a sponsor licence holding employer. Employees who are entrepreneurial or over time aspire to have their own business may wish to start up their own entity.

The purpose of this note is to consider the possibilities of doing so from a practical perspective. 

Self-employment for a skilled worker / tier 2:

The skilled worker or tier 2 migrant will remain employed by a sponsor licence holding employer in order to retain their immigration status in the UK. But the immigration rules and guidance do make provisions outside of this. 

Supernumerary work 

  • Allows for individuals who hold a skilled worker visa to run their business provided it is:
    • Fewer than 20 hours per work; and 
    • In the same category as the business, they already work in.
    • For full guidance please see the UKVI guidance 

It is therefore theoretically possible to start up your own business, provided it is within stipulated hours and a business similar to the one you already work in. 

Potential Issues

Applicants considering this route should check their employment contract and company policies to ensure they are not prohibited from additional work outside of their role, failure to do so may have an effect on your employment and subsequently your visa. 

Clients are advised to speak with employment and immigration professionals such as Branch Austin LLP prior to taking any substantive steps. 

Tax Implications 

Applicants considering this route, ought to consider professional tax advice from a tax advisor or accountant. 

Conclusion 

The instances of individuals on skilled worker visa’s and having a start-up business in the UK are limited due to the restrictive nature of the skilled worker visa outside of the role with the sponsored company. Adhering to the rules and ensuring compliance is imperative to avoid issue with your employer and the Home Office, legal advice is always advised prior to any substantive steps.

More frequently, we have seen instances of applicants moving into the Start-Up or Innovator Visa category. We advise our clients to always ensure that they are on the most appropriate visa in respect to their purpose in the UK.

Please note, the information on this blog is for general purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to amount to legal advice. Whilst we strive to ensure the information and law provided is as accurate as possible at the date of publication, it should be noted that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the current legal position. Branch Austin LLP accepts no liability for loss which may arise from accessing or relying upon the information within this blog. For formal legal advice please contact our Immigration Department. 

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