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‘Self Sponsorship Visa’


Self-sponsorship is a name given by immigration legal experts where a company shareholder or owner is ‘sponsored’ to come or remain in the UK as a Skilled Worker. Self Sponsorship is a 100% legal way for current or prospective business persons coming to the UK to run the business they own or have a shareholding. This is done under the Skilled Worker visa provision.

Is this new?

In the old Tier 2 rules, the old guidance stated :

‘’Skilled worker Visa worker …..they are also not allowed to hold more than 10% share in the company if it’s limited….’’

In January 2021, the UK government introduced a reformed points-based System called Skilled Worker Visa. This Visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) work visa.

When the skilled worker visa was introduced, some changes included removing the need for the labour market test and the old provisions that restricted Skilled workers from becoming shareholders.

Therefore, whilst more than a year old, it’s reasonably new.

Where can I find it on GOV.UK?

The rules on Sponsorship Licences and Skilled work are lengthy and complex. However, they are all accessible at the following links :

· Skilled Worker

· Occupations and Codes

· Sponsorship Information

There is no single section about ‘Self Sponsorship’ as this is a term I and others ( see links below) use to describe a process within the above rules. I do not believe that this is a loophole but believe that the immigration rules intended for this. Looking at the Occupations and Codes we can see that some of the codes are meant for owners, for example, 1223 Caffe owners), 1226 ( Travel Agency owner), 1253 ( Hairdressing salon owner). Furthermore, the first code on the occupational codes list is 1115 Chief Executive.

Those of us who have worked with Global Business Mobility, Expansion worker visas will know very well that the initial stages of the Expansion worker include the worker issuing the Certificate of Sponsorship to themselves; therefore, self-sponsorship is ‘baked in’ the Sponsorship Licence.

Is this easy?

Skilled worker visas are meant for those who can fulfil all the points-based system requirements. I don’t particularly appreciate saying that something is easy or difficult, as, in the case of immigration, you either meet the criteria or don’t. However, in most cases, I can confidently say that this is not a simple nor a quick process.

Who is it for?

Self-sponsorship is for those who are genuine owners or shareholders of genuine and operating businesses in the UK. There must be an actual position in the company for the shareholder/business owner. The business must have UK based ( free of immigration restrictions) senior staff ( Director/Manager) operating the business. The Home Office will refuse applications if it believes that the position has been created to facilitate someone’s migration to the UK.

Is this the new ECAA/Ankara Agreement?

As mentioned previously, this is not a separate visa. Therefore, it does not replace any. However, genuine businesspersons thinking of running or already running a UK business could benefit. Please make sure you get proper qualified advice specific to your situation. Immigration Specialists are here to understand your requirements. We are here to explain these rules and see who can benefit. It is a shame that many who claim to be immigration experts have little knowledge of the law and are quick to dismiss without helping those who reach out to them for advice.

Why £35,000?

This is the sum needed to establish the business in the UK and have sufficient funds for the first few months of the operation of that business. This is this sum we think is suitable, from experience. Suppose you are investing or taking over an already established business in the UK. In that case, the funds will vary depending on the situation.

Where can I read more about this topic?

I have read extensively on the issue, and can recommend separate articles. One in English can be found here. They are a top 500 legal immigration firm with a superb reputation. Whilst I disagree with how easy they make it seem on their website, they have a lot of details readily available. Another article in Turkish can be found here, written by a respectable Turkish/UK lawyer. Although I somewhat disagree with the negative sentiment, I agree with the conclusions. A further article about the change in the rules in 2021 can be found here. It's written by Lewis Silkin LLP, a UK top 100 commercial law firm. They state :

The lifting of the maximum shareholding requirement for the Skilled Worker route should open doors to more businesses and business founders wishing to work in the UK.


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