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I am a software engineer from Pakistan with over 20 years of experience. I have a friend in the UK, who along with some partners, wants to create a startup. He has recommended me for building all the tech side of it. I have met with them online and now they want to meet me in person. They would eventually like for me to work in the UK on a work visa. They will be bearing all the travel and accommodation expenses. I am employed, married with children, and have property in Pakistan, so I am hoping I won't be refused on the grounds of "will leave the UK at the end of the visit" or "insufficient funds".

I was originally going to apply for a Business Visa with the intention of going for an interview. I would receive their invitation letter from another company that they have founded previously because they haven't registered the startup yet. However, that company doesn't have the license to recruit internationally from the Home Office and it would be too much of a hassle to get the license for that company. They would get that license for the startup once they register it, but that will take time.

So, one obvious objection on my visa would be that the company that is inviting me for the interview cannot really hire me because they don't have the international recruitment license. Now looking at the Business Visa requirements, my intention to visit doesn't fall into any other categories. Could anyone guide me as to which kind of Visa I should apply for?

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    Companies invites a lot of people, and i think very few cases are about future local employment. Business visa is also about discussing partnerships, businesses ideas, visiting the parent company, consulting tasks (both sides), etc. To me it your case is normal business. Jul 6, 2022 at 12:18
  • Unless you are self-employed as a software engineer in your home country or intend to become self-employed for this project, and have a decent travel history, your plan sounds to me as if it may raise some red flags. How long would you intend to spend in the UK this time? If you were hired to build the system, would you do that remotely from Pakistan? You’d presumably leave your existing employer (so that’s not much of a ‘tie’ to home). The UK doesn’t have a ‘business visa’ as such, your only option is to apply for a Visitor visa
    – Traveller
    Jul 6, 2022 at 15:21
  • @Traveller, I am not self-employed at the moment and don't have a travel history at all. I would spend 2 or 3 days at most in the UK. If I get hired to build the system, then initially I would build it remotely from Pakistan as self-employed but later I will probably move to the UK on a work visa.
    – Ali
    Jul 7, 2022 at 12:00
  • You should apply for Visitor visa in good faith your odds of success in this case depends on various factors. No one can tell you what those factors are, even embassies don't follow what they say on the website. Feb 6 at 11:40

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From gov.uk,

Business or academic visits

You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you’re coming to the UK for certain business or academic activities, such as:

  • going to meetings or conferences
  • doing academic research
  • doing certain paid engagements or events (a ‘permitted paid engagement’) for UK-based organisations

So, you can apply for a standard visitor visa, mentioning that you are coming for business meeting (this is what it is).

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  • UK explicitly says not to book flight and hotel till the visa is approved. Feb 7 at 6:09

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