Self Sponsorship Visa UK

Mastering the UK Self Sponsorship Visa Process: Your Step-by-Step Guide

If you are exploring avenues to establish a business in the UK or have an existing UK business, you could be eligible for a “Self-Sponsorship Visa UK” by securing sponsorship from your UK business. Before applying for a “UK Self Sponsorship Visa“, your UK business should acquire a Skilled Worker Home Office Sponsor Licence.

Opting for the “UK Self-Sponsored Visa” pathway can lead to settlement in the UK, and you can bring along dependent partners and children. It’s worth pointing out that there isn’t a UK visa designated as the ‘Self Sponsorship Visa’. Instead, this terminology refers to a permissible pathway available under the Skilled Worker Visa category in the UK.

UK Expansion Worker Visa Option

If you have an established business outside of the UK and want to create a UK branch or subsidiary linked to the overseas company by common ownership and control, the UK Expansion Worker visa route might be a better option for you. 

Eligibility for a UK Self Sponsored Visa

The precise requirements to self-sponsor for a Skilled Worker visa may vary based on your situation. An immigration specialist such as Immtell can provide expert advice tailored to your circumstances.

However, on a high level, to self-sponsor for a Skilled Worker visa, you must meet specific requirements set by the Home Office, such as:

Obtain a Home Office Sponsorship Licence for your UK company
Have an active and genuine UK company which you can use to sponsor you
Obtain a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for your planned job role from your UK company
You must receive a minimum annual salary of £38,700, or the amount as stated on the Occupational Code (OC code), whichever is higher. In some circumstances you can earn less if:
  • you work in some healthcare or education jobs;
  • your job is in a shortage occupation (likely not to apply from Spring 2024);
  • you’re under 26, studying or a recent graduate, or in professional training;
  • you have a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) PhD level qualification that’s relevant to your job (if you have a relevant PhD level qualification in any other subject your salary must be at least £23,580); or
  • you have a postdoctoral position in science or higher education.
  • The role you intend to undertake must be considered as at or above UK A Level (RQF 3)
    You must meet the English language requirement of CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening, or be from an ‘English speaking country’
    You must have held £1,270 in savings for 28 days prior to the date of application, or an A-Rated Home Office sponsor may certify that they will provide this on the CoS. Further funds must be held for each dependant family member applying
    Provide criminal record and valid TB certificates, if needed.

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    Steps to Apply for a UK Self Sponsored Visa

    Applying for a Skilled Worker visa via self-sponsorship involves four key steps.

    Establish a UK company
    Obtain a sponsor licence
    Secure a Certificate of Sponsorship
    Apply for a Skilled Worker visa

    Step 1: Setting Up a UK Company

    To qualify for a “Self Sponsored Visa UK”, you need to either register a new UK company or already have a registered UK company.

    Can You Register a UK Company from Abroad?

    Yes, you can register a UK company from overseas. No regulations mandate a UK company director to be a UK resident or British citizen. However, all directors, including non-UK residents, should fulfil specific requirements and obligations. If a non-UK resident director cannot perform their duties, they can designate a UK-based representative; in practice, many people looking to set up a business find it most accessible to have a UK director initially.

    If you need to familiarise yourself with the UK company registration process or UK laws, consider hiring a professional company formation agent to guide you through the procedure and ensure all requirements are met. We can connect you with specialists who can help you with this.  

    Step Two: Procuring a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence Criteria for Securing a Skilled Worker Sponsorship Licence

    Following the registration of your UK company, the subsequent move towards securing a Skilled Worker visa through self-sponsorship involves your UK business applying for and obtaining a Home Office Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence.

    In brief, the Home Office requires assurance that:

    1. Your UK company is a genuine entity conducting legal operations in the UK.
    2. Your UK company can efficiently execute its sponsor obligations.
    3. Your UK company provides legitimate employment that satisfies the income and expertise prerequisites of the Skilled Worker route.

    Genuine Business Conducting Legal Operations in the UK

    To convince the Home Office that your business is a genuine operation in compliance with UK law, you will need to supply at least four particular documents in Appendix A of the sponsor guidance.

    The precise documents needed will depend on your application’s circumstances, hence the necessity for professional advice. In cases where the business has operated in the UK for less than 18 months (qualifying as a start-up business), a Home Office sponsorship licence application will generally need to incorporate the following documents:

    Essential documents:

    • Evidence verifying that the business maintains an active corporate bank account with a UK bank authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

    In addition to any three from the list below:

    • Verification of the business’s registration with HMRC as an employer for PAYE and National Insurance or
    • Documentation that the business is VAT-registered, or
    • Evidence of the business’s employer’s liability insurance cover of at least £5m from an insurer sanctioned by the Financial Conduct Authority or
    • Documentation of the business’s ownership or leasing of business premises or
    • The business’s most recent annual accounts.


    Can a Non-UK Resident Establish a UK Business Bank Account?

    Non-UK residents can establish a business bank account in the UK, but the requisites and procedures may differ according to the bank and personal circumstances.

    To set up a UK bank account as a non-UK resident, typical requirements include identity documents such as a passport or national ID card, proof of address (which might be more challenging for non-residents to obtain), and evidence of income or funding source.

    Certain banks may require you to possess a UK address or be a UK tax resident. Additionally, some banks might offer only specific types of accounts, such as basic bank accounts, to non-UK residents.

    Some banks might mandate a personal branch visit to open an account, while others permit online account opening.

    It’s advised to explore various banks and their prerequisites for non-UK residents and directly engage with them to find out what documents and information are necessary to establish a business bank account. Consulting a professional who can explain your options and help meet the bank’s requirements could be beneficial.

    Many banks enforce rigorous policies, making it challenging for individuals still residing in the UK to set up the necessary financial infrastructure for their businesses. For this reason, many non-residents employ the services of UK residents who can serve in a directorial role during the start-up phase. Once you’ve obtained your Skilled Worker visa and become a UK resident, the process should be more straightforward.


    Is Active Trading a Requirement for a UK Business?

    While your UK business should be registered with Companies House, maintain a UK business bank account, and, in most situations, be registered for PAYE/NI and VAT, it is not required to actively trade or generate any UK-based revenue. However, official guidance states that the business should have “an operating or a trading presence in the UK”.  They go on to say, “are genuine and are operating or trading lawfully in the UK (an organisation is deemed to have been ‘operating or trading’ in the UK from the point at which it was incorporated)”.

    Convincing the Home Office of your UK business’s legitimacy and legal operations within the UK is often easier under certain circumstances. The updated guidance issued by the Home Office to caseworkers in April 2024 indicates that new companies must provide additional evidence to satisfy the “trading presence” requirements.

    Below are suggestions as to the circumstances which make this more achievable:

    • If you already have an active overseas business for which there’s a valid business case to establish a branch in the UK.
    • If you’ve created a detailed business plan for your UK business.
    • If you possess adequate investment funds to operate your UK business, especially for staffing costs.
    • If you have already secured contracts or customers.
    • If your bank account shows evidence of trading activity.
    • If you’ve initiated early-stage business activities in the UK, like establishing a functioning website, telephone number, and email address

    At Immtell, we have successfully helped obtain Home Office sponsor licenses for start-up businesses with an existing overseas business connection and new UK businesses without any such link. Our experienced immigration specialists can guide you on the best options and success prospects.

    Get Your Guide to the UK Self-Sponsored Visa Pathway Today!

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    Some of our Client's Successes

    Case Study 1: The Tech Maverick - Alex

    Alex, an accomplished software developer from India, was ambitious: to build his tech start-up in London's thriving technology hub. However, he found himself at a crossroads with a history of unsuccessful visa applications under the Start-Up and Innovator routes. The complexity of the UK's immigration system and the specific requirements of the different routes made the process seem almost impossible.

    Just as Alex was about to give up on his dream, he found Immtell; we offered him a lifeline: the self-sponsored Skilled Worker Visa. Our team of immigration professionals swiftly guided Alex through the detailed process.

    One of the significant challenges Alex faced was appointing a UK resident as a director during the start-up phase. Immtell, with our extensive network of trusted professionals, was instrumental in overcoming this challenge.

    Under our expert guidance, Alex set up his UK-based company, prepared a compelling business plan, and successfully obtained a Home Office sponsor license. Despite his previous unsuccessful visa applications, Immtell's comprehensive assistance led to Alex receiving his Skilled Worker Visa.

    Now, Alex heads a flourishing tech start-up in London's vibrant tech district. Despite the initial roadblocks, the Self Sponsored Work Visa made his journey to the UK possible.

    Case Study 2: Culinary Dreamer - Clara

    Clara, a seasoned restaurateur from Italy, had always dreamt of bringing her successful Italian restaurant model to the food-loving population of London. However, her earlier attempts to move to the UK via the employment and start-up routes were met with disappointment. It would have been so easy if she had made the move before Brexit!

    Disheartened but not defeated, Clara stumbled upon the opportunity of a self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa. She realised this could be her chance to turn her dream into reality.

    The journey was challenging. One significant obstacle was establishing a UK bank account as a non-resident. Clara tackled this challenge head-on, diligently researching, understanding bank requirements, and providing necessary documentation.

    With her UK business set up, the next hurdle was securing a Home Office sponsor license under Immtell's expert guidance. Clara was determined and focused, ensuring her business could carry out its sponsor duties effectively.

    Next came the complex process of assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS); although initially daunting, she soon realised Immtell's specialist immigration consultants could handle this on her behalf.  

    Despite her past experiences and challenges, Clara's dream became a reality when she finally received her self-sponsored Skilled Worker Visa. Today, Clara's London-based restaurant is a testament to her determination, offering a taste of Italy to the city's residents and fulfilling her long-held dream.

    Business Capable of Fulfilling Sponsor Duties

    Every licensed sponsor is obligated to fulfil specific duties. These duties as a licensed sponsor encompass recording duties, record-keeping duties, and adherence to UK immigration laws.

    The Home Office will evaluate your business’s capability to perform its sponsor duties by reviewing your existing human resources, recruitment systems, and practices. For instance, they would be interested in whether you have systems that enable you to track a sponsored worker’s absence from work or recognise when their current permission is nearing expiry. They may also execute a compliance audit either before deciding on your application or after your licence is granted.

    Legitimate Employment That Satisfies Salary and Skill Level Requirements

    In addition to assessing your UK company’s documents, the Home Office also seeks to confirm that:

    • Your UK company offers employment that satisfies the Skilled Worker route’s skill level requirement (usually RQF Level 3 or higher).
    • Your UK company provides employment that meets the salary level requirement of the Skilled Worker route (typically at least £38,700 per year.
    • The job you aim to sponsor is genuine.
    • A direct employer-employee relationship exists between the sponsoring business and the worker. However, overseas employment and self-employment are permissible in some situations.
    • The business isn’t planning to sponsor a role that will result in hiring a worker for an ongoing or routine role to a third party. You can find more details about the skill level requirement and the salary threshold requirement on our primary Skilled Worker visa page.

    As part of your company’s Home Office Sponsorship Licence application, you will also need to provide the Home Office with:

    • A rationale for why your company is applying for a Skilled Worker sponsor licence, detailing the sector in which you operate and your business hours.
    • An up-to-date organisational chart detailing owners, directors, and board members.
    • A list of employees, including their names and titles (if your business has 50 employees or fewer).
    • Information about the jobs your company seeks to fill and for which it plans to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), including the job title, occupation code, duties, the job’s position in the organisational chart, and the minimum salary guaranteed for the job.

    Designating Key Personnel

    Before your Home Office Sponsor Licence application, you must designate three key personnel:

    An Authorising Officer
    This individual will manage the sponsorship licence, taking ultimate responsibility for the licence and ensuring that your sponsor licence obligations are fulfilled
    A Key Contact
    This individual will serve as the primary point of contact between your business and the Home Office
    At least one Level 1 User
    This individual will handle daily sponsorship activities using the Sponsorship Management System (SMS).

    When considering self-sponsorship, take note of these specific requirements for key personnel:

    • A single person or a combination of different people can fulfil these key personnel roles.
    • Each key personnel (or the singular key person, where one person fills all roles) must be based in the UK at the time of appointment and throughout their tenure.
    • The Authorising Officer and initial Level 1 User must be a director, employee, or office holder (such as a company secretary) of the UK entity at the time of application.
    • The Authorising Officer must sufficiently oversee the UK business to fulfil their responsibilities.
    • At least one Level 1 User must usually be a UK citizen or have settled status in the UK.

    Practically, these requirements mean that if you want to apply for a Skilled Worker visa through self-sponsorship, you must usually have a trusted individual based in the UK who is either British or settled in the UK and whom you are willing to appoint as a salaried director, employee, or office holder of your UK business.

    If you’re considering hiring a third-party agent to act as a UK Director and Authorising Officer for a fee, consider how the agent will demonstrate to the Home Office that they have enough involvement and oversight of your UK business to fulfil their responsibilities. Also, remember that the Home Office can and regularly conduct unannounced compliance visits to the Authorising Officer’s business premises.

    We collaborate with experts skilled in assuming directorial and part-time employment roles, and these professionals are also well-equipped to serve as Level 1 Users and Authorising Officers when necessary.

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    Step 3: Issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

    Upon approval of your company’s sponsor licence application, your business can then apply for and assign a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

    Certificates of Sponsorship are electronic records that must be assigned to each migrant worker you wish to hire. Each CoS carries a unique reference number, allowing the worker to apply for a self-sponsorship Skilled Worker visa. It is like a digital UK work permit.

    Your CoS must have been issued up to three months before your Skilled Worker application.

    Your CoS should include mandatory information, including:

    • Your name, job, and salary details;
    • A start date no later than three months after your Skilled Worker visa application date;
    • Confirmation that the CoS has not been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and has not been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office.

    Step 4: Apply for a Self-Sponsored Skilled Worker Visa

    Once a CoS is assigned, you can apply for a Skilled Worker visa

    To sponsor yourself for a Skilled Worker visa, you will need to complete the following:

    • Fill out an online application form. This will include information about your job, employer, and Certificate of Sponsorship reference number.
    • Pay the visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
    • Prove your knowledge of English. This is usually done by passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In some circumstances, you may be able to show that you have a degree taught or researched in English. If you are a national of a country the Home Office considers to be majority English speaking, your passport will automatically satisfy the language requirement.
    • Provide a current passport or other valid travel identification.
    • Provide financial proof that you can support yourself and any dependents. You’ll need to have had at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply, although this requirement is waived if your sponsor can certify that they’ll support and accommodate you for your first month in the UK.
    • Have a tuberculosis (TB) test result if you’re from a listed country where you must take the test.
    • Provide a criminal record certificate from any country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last ten years if you’ll be working with vulnerable people.


    When applying for your Skilled Worker visa from abroad, you can generally expect to receive a response within three weeks. If you aim to switch to or extend your stay in the UK under the Skilled Worker category, the standard processing duration typically extends to around eight weeks. Expedited services may also be an option.

    If your application is successful, you will get a visa to live and work in the UK for up to five years. After five years, you can usually apply to settle in the UK.

    Remember, it’s always best to consult with an immigration lawyer or professional for the most accurate advice tailored to your circumstances.

    FAQs - Self-Sponsorship Skilled Worker Visa

    Indeed, self-sponsoring applicants for the Skilled Worker visa can take on the roles of Director and own up to a 100% stake in their UK-based company.

    Contrary to popular belief, there’s no obligation for those seeking the Skilled Worker visa through self-sponsorship to demonstrate a specified investment funds level. Nevertheless, proof that your UK business is a legitimate enterprise operating lawfully is required by the Home Office. Evidence of adequate investment funds to expand your business and meet minimum salary levels may be beneficial to substantiate this.

    The Skilled Worker visa differs from the Innovator Founder route in that it does not necessitate the sponsoring UK business to demonstrate innovation, viability, or scalability. No endorsement by a Home Office-approved body is required, nor are there constraints on the business activities the company can engage in. The Skilled Worker visa through self-sponsorship is open to all types of businesses.

    While not compulsory, a detailed business plan for your UK business can facilitate the process of convincing the Home Office that your business is genuine and operates lawfully. 

    Self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa holders must receive a salary from their company that meets or exceeds a general salary threshold, the ‘going rate’ for the profession (according to the relevant occupation code), and a minimum hourly rate (if applicable). Our UK immigration consultants can provide advice on the precise amount you should be paid based on your occupation, qualifications, and other criteria.

    To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa through self-sponsorship, you must show English language proficiency at least at B1 level (intermediate) on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all four components (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). There are multiple ways to meet this requirement, which include being a national of a majority English-speaking country, passing a Secure English Language Test, or obtaining a degree taught in English, among others.

    Upon approval of your self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa application, you’ll be granted entry clearance or permission to stay until 14 days after the end date on your Certificate of Sponsorship, which can extend up to a maximum of 5 years from the start date of your Certificate of Sponsorship.

    Yes, self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa holders can work in the job they are sponsored for. They may also engage in supplementary employment, provided it fulfils the definition of ‘supplementary employment,’ and they continue to work in their sponsored job.

    Yes, self-sponsored Skilled Worker visa holders can be eligible for Settlement as a Skilled Worker after a continuous 5-year stay in the UK, provided they satisfy a residence requirement and pass the Life in the UK test (unless exempted).


    At Immtell, we understand the strategic importance of you securing a UK visa via the Self-Sponsored visa pathway. To cater to your unique needs, we offer two specialised service packages.

    1. Full Licence and Visa Assistance: Navigate the complexities of obtaining a Home Office Sponsor Licence and your first Skilled Worker Visa, which, when combined, form the UK Self-Sponsored visa pathway with our comprehensive support. From initial application to final approval, our team ensures that every detail is meticulously managed, aligning your applications with Home Office requirements.
    2. Priority Service for Licence and Visa: Experience ultimate efficiency with our Fast Track option. We prioritise your Sponsor Licence and Visa applications, guaranteeing responses within one working day and expediting submissions through the Home Office Priority Service, subject to an additional fee to the Home Office. It is ideal for those seeking prompt processing and rapid results.

    💡 Transparent and Tailored Pricing: Our pricing is clear and upfront for each service package, enabling you to make an informed choice that aligns with your budget and timeline.

    📘 More Information Needed? Check out our FAQ section for further details on the Self-Sponsored Visa Pathway and other queries.

    📞 Embark on Your Visa Journey With Expert Support: Our services are customised to meet your needs, whether you require end-to-end assistance or fast-tracked processing. Contact us to discuss how we can facilitate a smooth and successful application for your Self-Sponsored Visa.

    Comprehensive Self Sponsorship Packages


    Full immigration support to navigate the Self-Sponsorship Visa Pathway for the UK.
    £ 7,000
    • Sponsor Licence Support
    • Skilled Worker Visa Assistance for One Person
    • Home Office Sponsor Duties Guide


    Comprehensive business and immigration support to quickly establish your UK business.
    £ 8,500
    • Sponsor Licence Support
    • Skilled Worker Visa Assistance for One Person
    • Home Office Sponsor Duties Guide
    • UK Company Formation
    • Tax Registrations
    • Business Bank Account Setup


    Premium support to meet stringent Home Office rules and accelerate your UK business growth.
    £ 14,000
    • Sponsor Licence Support
    • Skilled Worker Visa Assistance for One Person
    • Home Office Sponsor Duties Guide
    • UK Company Formation
    • Tax Registrations
    • Business Bank Account Setup
    • Business Plan Creation
    • Website Development, domain name and email set up
    • Starter HR Policies and Procedure Pack

    How Can Immtell Assist You in Your UK Self-Sponsored Skilled Worker Visa Application Journey?

    Navigating the landscape of the Self-Sponsored Skilled Worker Visa application can seem complicated due to its unique requirements and processes. However, the challenge becomes surmountable with Immtell’s expertise. Our skilled team of immigration professionals specialises in guiding applicants through the intricate process, providing bespoke assistance at every stage of the application.

    Explore our diverse range of services to support your journey to the UK. See below:

    Authorising Officers & Key Personnel
  • Facilitating the appointment of UK directors or employees to meet bank, Authorising Officer, and Level 1 user requirements.
  • Providing solutions for businesses seeking to open a bank account in the UK, through partnerships with companies specialising in appointing part-time directors or employees.
  • Immigration Consultation and Support
  • Guidance and support with Sponsor License applications and Skilled Worker Visa applications.
  • Managing communications with the Home Office and addressing any queries on behalf of the company.
  • Business Plan Development
  • Coordination with specialist business plan creators to develop a robust and compliant business plan tailored to the needs of the Home Office.
  • HR, Health & Safety, and Employment Law Support
    Connecting clients with trusted partners for comprehensive support in HR, Health & Safety, and Employment Law, ensuring robust policies, systems, and processes are in place. Offering cloud-based systems for streamlined management and record keeping for immigration purposes.

    Ready to start your UK journey with the Self-Sponsored Skilled Worker Visa?

     Get in touch with Immtell’s expert team today. Let us guide you through every step of your application, turning complex processes into straightforward tasks. Your UK dream is just a click away!