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The UK is one of the best places in the world to launch and grow a digital business. Whether you are a tech entrepreneur seeking to launch a digital startup in the UK or an existing tech business wishing to hire top talent, our UK immigration barristers are well versed in all the immigration routes available to tech startups & digital talent.

Immigration routes for Tech Startups & Digital Talent

One in seven of all UK companies has been founded by a migrant entrepreneur, and many of the UK’s leading startups, including TransferWise, Seedrs, Skimlinks, DueDil and YPlan were founded by international teams. If you want to start a technology business, or work as a digital professional in the UK, you will normally need to have a visa under one of the tiers of the points-based system.

The points-based system has special categories and rules for those in the digital industry. In some categories you will need to be sponsored by an employer, whilst other categories allow employment and investment in the digital economy without sponsorship. If you are going to be in the UK for a single event or activity such as attending a tech conference or trade fair, a visitor visa may be more appropriate.

The main immigration routes available to tech startups and digital workers are:

  • Visit (Standard) – Business
  • Representative of Overseas Business
  • Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent)
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur)
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer)

Digital Sector Employers

If your technology business wishes to employ a worker from outside the European Economic Area, the employee must obtain, or already have, permission to work. You will be required to check that all your employees have the required immigration permission to work for you in the UK.

The following categories of people have the right to work in the UK:

  • British Citizens (This is the only form of British nationality where the holder automatically has the right to work. British Nationals, British Nationals (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Overseas Citizens, British Subjects and British Protected Persons do not normally have the automatic right to work in the UK);
  • EEA citizens and citizens of Switzerland;
  • Those with the right of abode in the UK;
  • Those with no time limit on their stay in the UK; and
  • Those with a visa or permission to remain in the UK which permits work (This may be subject to conditions, such as a maximum number of hours to be worked in a week, which must be complied with).

Students may have permission to work, but if they do, this will be limited during term time. Some individuals with applications pending with the Home Office may also have permission to work in the UK. In this case you will need to obtain a Positive Verification Notice from UKVI’s Employer Checking Service.

How our immigration barristers can help

Our specialist immigration barristers work closely with tech entrepreneurs and digital startups to ensure that their immigration requirements are met. Providing a completely outsourced immigration service, our immigration barristers design immigration solutions that ensure that entrepreneurs can launch their digital businesses in the UK and recruit the talent that they need, in full compliance with UK immigration law.

We can also assist with

  • Applications for Visit (Standard) Business Visas

    The Visit (Standard) – Business visa is designed for non-EEA nationals who wish to come to the UK for the purpose of undertaking business activities.  A Visit (Standard) – Business visa will allow you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months. Within the period for which your visit visa is valid, you may enter and leave the UK multiple times, unless the visit visa is endorsed as a single or dual-entry visa.

  • Applications for Sole Representative Of Overseas Business Visas

    The Sole Representative visa category is for businesses that would like to send a senior employee to the UK in order to establish a commercial presence for the company in the UK. You will need to have a genuine business which is based outside of the UK and hold not more than 50% of the shares in the business.

  • Applications for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas

    The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category is for non-EEA nationals who are internationally recognised as world leaders in their field (exceptional talent) or recognised as having the potential to become world leaders in the future (exceptional promise).

  • Applications for Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visas

    The Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur category is for non-EEA nationals who want to set up a business in the UK and who have been endorsed by a UK Higher Education Institution or the Department for International Trade as having a crdible business idea and entrepreneurial skills.

  • Applications for Tier 2 General Skilled Worker Visas

    The Tier 2 General category is for individuals who have an offer of a skilled job in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor. This category includes applicants coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations. You will need to have an offer of employment before applying for a visa.

  • Applications for Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Visas

    The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer category is for existing employees of multinational employers who need to be transferred to their UK branch for training purposes or to fill a specific vacancy. You will need to have an offer of employment in the UK from a licensed Tier 2 Sponsor before applying for a visa and the overseas employer must be linked by common ownership or control to the UK branch.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting with a member of our Tech Startup & Digital Talent team, contact our immigration barristers on 020 3617 9173 or complete our enquiry form.



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