📍 UK immigration
February 5, 2024
Updated on
March 8, 2023

UK Relocation Routes

UK Relocation Routes

The UK government is set on attracting high-skilled workers to the country — that’s why various immigration routes have been structured towards specific reasons for relocation. For those who wish to relocate to the UK, there is a list of available Long-term Work and Business Developments and Talent relocation routes.

Skilled worker route

A Skilled Worker Visa allows one to come and stay in the UK to do an eligible job with an approved employer. Skilled Worker Visa candidates have to secure an employment offer with an approved employer able to sponsor them in the UK through a valid certificate of sponsorship. In simple terms, you need to get a job in the UK before applying for the visa. In most cases, your employer will help you with the application process.

To qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, you must:

  • have a job offer from a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office;
  • have a certificate of sponsorship from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK;
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations (also check the Shortage Occupation List, that may speed up and ease your application process);
  • be paid a minimum salary — how much depends on the type of work you do (the info can be found in the same list of occupations);
  • prove your knowledge of English when you apply.

When you apply, you’ll need to provide:

  • your certificate of sponsorship reference number — your employer will give you this;
  • proof of your knowledge of English;
  • your job title and annual salary;
  • your job’s occupation code;
  • the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number — this will be on your certificate of sponsorship.

How you apply depends on whether you’re:

The application fee: from £625 to £1,423, depending on your circumstances.
The healthcare surcharge: £624 per year.

Visa duration:

Up to 5 years with an unlimited amount of extensions (as long as you meet the eligibility requirements).

You can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years spent in the UK on a Skilled Worker Visa, provided you qualify for it.

Start-up & innovator routes

These routes are for those who want to set up and run an innovative business in the UK. This business or business idea must be endorsed by an approved body, also known as an endorsing body.

Under these routes:

Generally, all you need is to secure the endorsement letter and a check for £50,000. There are three main types of such endorsing bodies:

1. Eligible UK universities — their process is relatively simple (but theoretical) and free of charge, but in most cases, these bodies sponsor their own (and recent) graduates;

2. Eligible large tech accelerators — their process is extremely complicated (go try getting into a Techstars cohort) but still free of charge. Moreover, in most cases, these bodies will not only provide you with your Innovator endorsement but fund and scale your business with you. A reasonable question one may ask here is why bother with Innovator application when an application to Tech Stars is a good case for Global Talent, but that’s a different story;

3. Eligible small tech “accelerators” (mostly one-man-shops) — their process is straightforward. In most cases, they can even help you meet the criteria and even draft your business plan, but they do price a lot for their “membership”. These bodies’ rates vary, but generally, it is around £13,000 to £15,000 per year per applicant.

Each Endorsing Body has its own process of screening and approving the candidates, but generally, they need to make sure your business idea is:

  • new — you cannot join a business that is already trading;
  • innovative — you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market;
  • viable, with growth potential.

Documents required:

  • an “endorsement letter” to show that an endorsing body has assessed your business or business idea;
  • bank statements showing you’ve had at least £1,270 in savings in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply (also known as the Maintenance Funds requirement);
  • proof that you meet the English language requirement;
  • evidence of your investment funds (if you’re setting up a new business);
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test.


If applying from outside the UK: £1,036.

If applying to switch into the category from within the UK: £1,292.
The healthcare surcharge:£624 per year.
Check for £50,000.

Visa duration:
3 years (the visa can be extended up to 3 years).
You can apply for ILR after 3 years on the Innovator Visa, provided you qualify.

Representative of an overseas business visa route

Visa duration: 3 years. The visa can be extended up to 2 years.

ILR can be obtained after 5 years in the Representative of an Overseas Business visa category.

Representative of an Overseas Business Visa category is for businesses that wish to send a senior employee to the UK in order to establish a commercial presence for the company in the UK.

To apply as a representative, you must:

  • be recruited and employed outside the UK by an active and trading business whose headquarters and principal place of business are outside the UK;
  • have the skills, experience and knowledge to do the role;
  • hold a senior position within the business (but do not own or control the majority of it) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf;
  • intend to establish the overseas business’s first commercial presence in the UK, either a registered branch or a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Documents required for Representative of an Overseas Business Visa:

  • evidence that you can support yourself and any dependants during your trip, for example bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months;
  • proof that you meet the English requirement;
  • a full description of the business’s activities, including details of assets and accounts;
  • a letter confirming the overseas business will set up a wholly owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK in the same business activity as it runs overseas;
  • your job description, employment contract and salary details;
  • a letter confirming you’re familiar with the business and have the power to make operational decisions.

If you’re applying from overseas, you’ll also need to provide:

  • details of where you’ll be staying during your stay;
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test.

You should also provide evidence that you:

  • are directly employed by the business and are not acting as a sales agent (for example, hired by a business to sell or distribute their products within the UK, but working for yourself and providing your services for a fee);
  • were recruited to the business outside of the UK;
  • hold a senior position in the business, with authority to make decisions on its behalf and set up and run a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary;
  • will be working full time for the business or subsidiary for the duration of your stay and will not carry out any other work;
  • do not own or control a majority of the overseas business.

You must apply online for a Representative of an Overseas Business visa.

Fees: If you apply from outside the UK, a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa costs £625.If you apply from inside the UK, you’ll need to pay £719.

The healthcare surcharge: £624 per year.

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