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Hello, in this article we will summarise the process of obtaining residency in the UK using the self-sponsorship route with catechise. If you would like more detailed information about the process, you can call us anytime from the numbers below, free of charge.

Question 1: What is the Self Sponsorship route?

The Self Sponsorship route is for investors who wish to set up a business in the UK, which could help them to obtain UK residency depending on their business activities. The investors who wish to obtain the residency and start to live and do business in the UK can achieve this result in two ways. They can set up a new company according to their business activities or to take over a company already operating in the UK in the same field. Moreover, it is then possible to apply for a Sponsor Licence for that company, furthermore, apply for residency as a skilled worker depending upon that company which they are operating for.

Question 2: Is the Self-Sponsorship Route similar to the Ankara Agreement Route to obtain residency in the UK?

Although there are some similarities between the Self-Sponsorship route and the Ankara Agreement Route, the two routes are different. Under the Ankara Agreement, the company you set up in the UK for your business idea will give you direct residence rights, whereas this is not possible under the Self-Sponsorship route. In order to obtain residence through a company set up in the UK under the Self-Sponsorship route, first of all the company you set up or take over a company must have a licence to employ overseas staff which is called sponsor licence, furthermore, the position of the employment required by the company must not be provided from within the UK, and must be one of the skilled worker jobs which are identified by the UK government.

Question 3: If a company is established in the UK for Self Sponsorship purposes, is it possible for company shareholders to work in the company?

If the company founder or shareholders are not already having a resident permit in the UK, they cannot be employed as employees. They can only be shareholders/partners of the company. The company must employ employees who are already resident in the UK and have a work permit in the UK.

Question 4: Is it possible for a company established or acquired in the UK to obtain a direct Sponsor Licence? What are the requirements?

It is not possible for a company established or acquired in the UK to obtain a direct sponsor licence. There are some conditions that must be fulfilled for sponsor licence. The sponsor licence gives companies the right to find and employ employees from overseas.

First of all, the company must demonstrate why they need that person(s) to come to the UK to work with the company. Moreover, the employee in question must be essential to the continuity of the business and must be one of the skilled workers which is identified by the government.

In addition, the UK Home Office has determined the minimum annual salary thresholds depending on the professional position of the person being brought in. Annual salaries vary depending on the professional position. Although there is no upper limit, there is a lower limit of £26,200. In line with the government's recent statements, the lower limit is to be increased to £38,700 in the spring of 2024.

The company must have sufficient income to pay the salaries of the people it will bring in from abroad as well as the expenses it will incur as a result of its commercial activities.

Even these conditions are presence, another necessary condition is that the company must also employ another person who is a permanent resident, a citizen or a person who has a place of residence in the UK within the scope of the European Union. This person is going to be the person who will be responsible for using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS). Where the person is referred to as a Level 1 User.

Question 5: What are the requirements for being a Level 1 User who is responsible for using the SMS system?

An employee, business partner or company manager within the company can be a Level 1 user. Moreover, there may be additional Level 1 Users employed by third party organisations who provides HR services.

However, it should be noted that, in order to assign additional Level 1 users, at least one of the employee, partner or managers in the company must be a Level 1 user. It is important to mention that there are some situations that may prevent you from being a Level 1 user.

A person is not eligible to be a Level 1 user if they have an outstanding criminal conviction for an offence listed in the published sponsor guidance, have been fined by the UK Visa and Immigration authorities within the last 12 months, have been reported to the UK Visa and Immigration authorities, have breach the UK law, have worked as a 'key person' for a sponsor whose licence has been revoked within the last 12 months, have failed to pay VAT or other excise duties.

In addition, individuals eligible for Level 1 user must be present in the UK for most of the period, not to be a contractor or consultant engaged for a specific project, not to be subject to bankruptcy, debt relief or a dept undertaking, and not previously breached sponsor requirements.

Question 6: Is there a capital requirement for a company to obtain a sponsor licence?

There is no regulation regarding the capital requirement for applying to the Sponsor Licence as a company. However, in addition to the company's trading expenses, the company must be able to cover the salary amounts to be paid to the employees from overseas.

These salaries must also meet the annual salary threshold determined by the UK Home Office for the skilled worker positions. Capital amounts may vary according to the work to be carried out in the UK. It would be appropriate to determine the initial capital according to the work to be done in the business.

Question 7: Let’s say, the conditions described above have been met and the company established in the UK has been granted a sponsor licence. What should be done after this stage?

The company that has been granted a Sponsor Licence can now bring in employees from overseas. At this stage it is necessary to apply for a Skilled Worker Visa for the person in question. The Skilled Worker Visa is based on what we call the point base. Generally, the conditions can be counted under the following headings: The position that the person will be working in the company is in the skilled worker professions category, B1 level English requirement for the person, experience requirement for the person, minimum annual salary requirement specified for the persons profession, job offer of the person and Certificate of Sponsorship.

Question 8: Is a B1 Level English certificate from any institution valid? How should the language level be demonstrated?

The skilled worker visa applicant must be able to demonstrate the persons language level in the areas of reading, writing, listening and speaking. A language certificate from any course is not valid. The person must demonstrate the language level through the exams accepted by the UK Home Office. These exams are IELTS for UKVI (Academic-General Training), Language Cert International ESOL SELT B1, PTE Academic UKVI, Integrated Skills in English ISEI.

Question 9: How many years is a skilled worker visa issued for? Can the spouse and children apply for this visa route together with the applicant?

The person applying for a skilled worker visa will be granted the right of residence for the duration of the company's sponsorship. This period can be up to 1-2-3-4-5 years. Moreover, it is important to mention that, if the conditions are met, at the end of 5 years, there is a right to apply for the permanent residence in the UK and right to apply for the citizenship at the end of the sixth year. The applicant and their family can also apply for a skilled worker visa route.

Question 10: How long does it take to apply for a Sponsor Licence and obtain a Skilled Worker Visa within the process?

This time will vary depending on the start of the business activities. It also depends on if the company is set up as a new company according to their business activities or if they take over a company already operating in the UK in the same field.

Mainly, the average assessment process for the sponsor licence is 8 weeks and there is an acceleration service. So that, with the acceleration service (fast track service), this process could be reduced to 10 working days.

After getting the Sponsor Licence for the company, for a skilled worker visa application, the assessment process takes 6-8 weeks, but also there is an acceleration service for skilled worker application as well. In this case, the assessment period is reduced to 1-5 working days.

Halil İbrahim Koca

Immigration Adviser

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