Non-sponsored business immigration routes

There are various visa categories available for entrepreneurs and overseas businesses wishing to establish a presence in the UK, without the need to apply for a Sponsor Licence.


This route is aimed at graduates from certain overseas universities who have graduated within the last 5 years and wish to relocate to the UK to work or seek work.


Start-up visas are aimed at entrepreneurs who wish to set up an innovative business in the UK. In order to obtain a start-up visa, applicants must be endorsed by an authorised endorsing body (either a UK higher education institution or a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs such as business accelerators).

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • a new business that is not already trading;
  • innovative and original – it must be different from anything else on the market; and
  • viable, with the potential for growth.

The maximum duration of a start-up visa is 2 years, although applicants may switch into different visa categories after this time (such as the Innovator route) if they meet the eligibility criteria.


This visa category is aimed at experienced businesspeople seeking to establish a business in the UK. Similar to the start-up route, it requires endorsement from an authorised endorsing body that has assessed the applicant’s business as innovative, viable and having the potential for growth.

In order to apply under this route, applicants need to show that they have at least £50,000 to invest in their business (or that they have already invested that amount).

This route is appropriate for new businesses that are not already trading, and visa holders will be authorised to stay in the UK for 3 years under this route, with the ability to extend and no maximum time limit.


Companies that require specialist skills and talent to grow their business may recruit individuals who hold a scale-up visa. This visa route opens on 22 August 2022. Further details about what this visa route is likely to entail can be found here.

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