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Entrepreneurial Dilemma:

Tier 1 Innovator Visa or

Representative of Overseas Business

Sadly, UK Representative of Overseas Business visa is now replaced with Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker visa. It is no longer possible to secure long-term residence rights under this UK visa category. This blog post is left unaltered for historic purposes only.

If you are an entrepreneur and already own a string of businesses, it may not be as easy to determine the better UK immigration route. This usually involves choosing between two UK immigration categories. These are Tier 1 Innovator visa and Representative of Overseas Business visa.

Here is an example of some of the considerations we go through when determining a better fitting visa to an entrepreneur’s specific circumstances and greater vision.

Here are 5 things to consider when making your decision:

1. New business versus old

The main distinction between the two UK immigration categories is whether you are considering opening a new business in the UK or wish to continue your current business overseas in the UK.

Tier 1 Innovator visa is a specific visa category, which allows you to open a brand new business in the UK, provided the requirements for the visa application are met.

If you do have an existing business overseas and you or your key employee who is relocating to the UK do not have more than 50% stake in the company, an overseas business representative visa allows you to continue your existing business in the UK.

The continuation of the business will take one of the two forms; a branch or a wholly owned subsidiary of the overseas company.

2. Employee or Entrepreneur

If you are relocating to the UK under the overseas business representative route, most of the evidence will be based around being a paid employee by the overseas business.

If your personal wealth is fairly simple, then operating a PAYE (Paye As You Earn) to administer a salary paid and received by the overseas company may be sufficient. However, if your personal wealth structure is more complex, you should definitely reach out for professional advice to organise your personal and business affairs before you relocate.

If you are applying for a Tier 1 Innovator visa, then you will be treated as an entrepreneur. You will be required to make a business investment. However, you will not be formally required to administer a salary. You will be required to demonstrate sufficient savings to support yourself and your family’s needs in the UK.

3. Polish your English

If you are from a major English speaking country, then English language requirement will not be an issue and it will be met by demonstrating your passport issued by a major English speaking country.

However, this may not be as straightforward if English language is not your mother tongue. 

The lowest English language requirement is attached to the Representative of overseas business visa, which is set at A1 CEFR.

You need to demonstrate that your command of English is at B2 CEFR when you apply for a Tier 1 Innovator visa.

It should be noted that this language requirement is set higher than for British citizenship application. You need to demonstrate that the level of your English is at B1 for the application to be successful.

The reason why the language requirement is so much higher for Tier 1 Innovator visa applicants is to ensure that the business leader is able to interact with the employees and other business stakeholders in a fluent manner. This allows to minimise some of the business and regulatory risks in the future.

CEFR is a language reference evaluation framework set up by the Council of Europe and followed by the UK for UK immigration purposes.

4. Making an Investment

You will not be required to make a business investment if you apply for the Representative of overseas business visa. The only investment for the business is going to be the salary of the employee and perhaps, some further supportive and professional services.

However, if you are applying for the Tier 1 Investor visa, then you are expected to make a business investment of at least £50,000.

5. Speeding up the Decision-making process

A bureaucratic process is attached to Tier 1 Innovator visa applicants. Your business idea will have to be endorsed by the approved endorsing body. Your visa application will fail if you do not manage to secure such an endorsement.

The predecessor of the Tier 1 Innovator visa, which was the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa, did not have the endorsement requirement attached to it. However, the application success rate was less than 25%.

The approved endorsing body was introduced to make sure the business was real and viable and not just a way to obtain your visa and live in the UK.

The Representative of an overseas business visa does not have the requirement to endorse. In fact, there is absolutely no red tape introduced to slow down the application process in any way.

The UK, especially in the Brexit aftermath, has actively reached out to highly successful overseas businesses and suggested expanding their business operations in the UK.

When the Representative of Overseas Business Visa is the Right Choice for You

If you are looking to expand your existing business operations to the UK, the Representative of overseas business UK immigration route is the perfect choice. There is a minimum English language requirement attached. There is no red tape and no requirement attached to make an investment. Instead the business is expected to pay the salary to its UK based employee, register a branch or establish a wholly owned subsidiary in the UK.

Tier 1 Innovator visa is suitable for entrepreneurs who are looking to test their new business idea in the UK. You will be required to secure an endorsement from the authorised endorsing body. You will be required to make the minimum investment of £50,000 into your business and demonstrate sufficient savings to support yourself and your family while in the UK. English language requirement is placed at a higher level, which is B2 CEFR.

Need help to decide the better option for you, how to best apply and organise your business operations as well as a family relocation to the UK, schedule a phone call with me.

Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA

I have been working exclusively with UHNWI in Mayfair, London since January 2008. I built specialist knowledge and expertise required to serve ultra high net worth individuals investing, operating and relocating to the UK or Switzerland.

Within the industry, I am the single adviser who is able to traverse the different areas of expertise and bring a comprehensive approach across: global structuring, UK immigration, international taxation and FOREX to develop their global wealth strategy, while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.

Previous experience as one of the senior advisors for the government, made me a go-to person when delicate and uncomfortable scenarios involving heads of state need to be handled with care and preserve privacy.

Contact a family office specialist to discuss your needs.

As somebody who specializes in tax, wealth management of ultra high net worth individuals’ assets and legal requirements for high net worth families, my sole purpose is to help you protect your family’s legacy.

Should you have a specific enquiry on how to start your own family office, please book a call below.

If your specific enquiry is about how to invest, operate or relocate to the UK or Switzerland and you are looking to align your UK immigration, tax, overseas wealth concerns and benefit from favourable currency conversions…

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