Can I freelance in the UK while my partner is on a skilled worker visa?
Freelancer’s Question: I live in Italy and I work for an Italian company. Would I be able to move to the UK as freelancer or do I need a sponsorship to get a Visa?
I’ve read this good advice about working in London under the Brexit deal but it doesn’t completely apply to my situation.
My situation is that my partner found a job in London and he will move to the UK’s capital in three months, so he is applying for a skilled worker visa.
But I would like to move with him and I wonder if I can enter and stay in the UK, while I am working for the Italian company which I am currently working for? At the moment I am an employee of the company but I suppose I’d have to switch to a freelance contract if I want to continue working with the Italian company while I live in the UK?
Lastly, if it helps to know, I would like to stay more than six months in London, living with my partner. How do I go about this with a permit and if successful, what are the tax implications?
Expert’s Answer: Firstly thank you for your interesting question.
The good news for you is that if your husband applies for and receives a Skilled Worker visa, then you too may leave Italy, come to the UK and join him in London.
Relevant small print of the visa
These are the parts of the small print of the UK visa rules relevant to you:
Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours.
Will you qualify as your husband's dependant partner?
Under ‘Your relationship,’ the government makes clear that:
A dependant partner or child is any of the following:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 - including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
Bear in mind that you’ll need to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply and, further related to your partner specifically:
You must be able to prove that either:
- you’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
- you’ve been living together in a relationship for at least two years when you apply
You'll be living, but also working -- as a freelancer in the UK
Fortunately for your circumstances, the so-called ‘Dependant’s visa’ will allow you not only to live in the UK but also to work.
Regarding your working situation, your employer in Italy can continue to employ you, but be aware that it may prove to be a little complicated for them.
So yes, they may prefer that you freelance for them, as working on such an independent basis would free them of the responsibility to ensure you pay the correct taxes and social security.
Instead, the onus would then be on you to resolve these matters.
A little tricky for them, doesn't mean freelancing need be tricky for you
That said, it’s not that complicated for you to arrange, as you will mainly just have to complete and submit a self-assessment tax return in the UK to HMRC, and pay your tax and social security in two equal amounts – firstly on January 31st and secondly on July 31st.
Positively, there is nothing to prevent you from being self-employed in the UK, and you will have to pay income tax and social security called National Insurance Contributions (NICs) in the UK. You can find the tax rates and NICS on HMRC’s website at:
You'll suffer charges, but not the new IR35
But consider though, you will suffer these charges on your net profits, which will be the income you earn from your client, less any expenses that you incur ‘wholly and necessarily’ for your business.
A positive to keep in mind however -- because you will not be working via a limited company, you will not be subject to the new off-payroll rules which since April 6th2021 are affecting many limited company workers here in the UK.
Duration depends, yet resources to look after yourself are a must
Penultimately, as for how long you may stay in the UK, this depends on your husband’s visa expiry date. But for your own part, you must apply for the dependant’s visa online, which you can do here.
Finally, you should note that you will also have to pay a fee and show that you have the resources to look after yourself, although your current employer’s agreement to provide you with work should suffice for this purpose. Good luck to the both of you with your big transition to the UK!
The expert was chartered accountant Kevin Austin, managing director of overseas working specialists Access Financial.