The Weekend Leader - How Yash Dubal Built A Y & J Solicitors, a Rs 40 Crore Visa Service Business from Humble Beginnings

From a One-Room House in Gujarat to a Rs 40 Crore Visa Business in the UK, a First-Generation Entrepreneur's Journey

Shyla F   |  


Vol 15 | Issue 28

Growing up in a one-room-kitchen house in the small city of Una in Gujarat, Yash Dubal had a tough childhood. After completing his B.Tech in computer science at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Technology, Vasad, he migrated to the UK in 2003, seeking better opportunities.

Enrolling in a three-year diploma in Business Management at a college in London, Yash took up various small jobs to support himself and send money back home while pursuing his studies.

Yash Dubal started his visa service business from his rented home in London (Photos: Special Arrangement)

His journey from these humble beginnings to launching a visa service business in London, which has evolved into A Y & J Solicitors with a turnover of Rs. 40 crore, is truly inspiring. It proves that with passion, determination, and hard work, nothing can stop you from achieving success.

Yash started his business in 2008 from a corner of his one-room-kitchen rented home in Hounslow, London, where he and his wife lived.

"I invested £30 (about Rs 3,200) to buy a table and chair from IKEA and placed it in a corner of my bedroom,” Yash recalls. “I worked hard. God was kind and the business started growing through references and word of mouth.”

A Y & J Solicitors specialises in two types of UK Visa services. The first assists UK businesses in bringing overseas skilled staff to the UK, providing all necessary legal help and visa services. The second helps overseas entrepreneurs and investors settle in the UK.

Over the past seven years, the firm has assisted over 5,000 clients, primarily from the Indian diaspora, but also from China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the USA, and South Africa.

Yash, now 44, was born in Una, in Gujarat's Gir Somnath district. His mother was a homemaker, and his father worked as a driver in a government department.

Yash moved to London after finishing his graduation in 2003

He is the eldest of three siblings. The five-member family lived in a one-room-kitchen home with limited assets, relying solely on his father's income.

Yash excelled in his studies, and usually ranked among the top three of his class. He attended a Gujarati medium semi-government school with a fee of Rs 30 per month. As a top student, he received free textbooks from the school, and his father only had to buy notebooks.

"My father used to buy cheap notebooks for us. The paper was blackish and the ink would spread and I would be embarrassed to show my notebook to my teachers. My classmates had better notebooks, which cost Rs 2 each, while ours cost Rs 1.50. Even the 50 paise mattered to us. My father saved money in every way possible to support us,” says Yash.

The three siblings carried their books in vegetable bags instead of proper school bags. "We had two or three pairs of clothes, and even if our father asked if we needed more, we said no. We were mindful of asking for anything from the age of six or seven. It was a hand-to-mouth situation at home,” says Yash.

“Around the age of eight, everyone in my class went to a school picnic that cost just Rs 10, but I couldn't afford it." Despite these hardships, he was loved by his teachers and received praise for being disciplined and systematic—traits that remain part of his personality.

Yash completed his Class 10 in 1996 from a school in Una. Due to the lack of good schools in Una, he moved to Rajkot, about 200 km away, to complete his Class 11 and 12 at Saurashtra High School. He lived in a subsidised hostel with four other boys in a single room. He finished school in 1998 with distinctions in English, Science, and Maths.

Unfortunately, Yash lost his father when he was just 17. "My father was the sole breadwinner of the family. We had no assets and no money. My mother had always been a housewife and didn’t even go out to buy vegetables—my father did all that," he says.

Yash lost his father when he was just 17 

Yash's uncle stepped in to support the family, encouraging Yash to continue his studies. Looking back on this period of his life, Yash says, “When God closes one door he opens many more. In the same manner, my father’s brother came as an Angel in my life.”

His mother also secured a clerical job in a government hospital in Rajkot, allowing the family to move there.

Yash always aspired to be a doctor but missed the medical entrance exam by two marks, and joined B.Tech in computer science instead. After graduating in 2002, Yash didn’t want to take the low-paying jobs his friends were accepting.

"I was tired of limited assets and lack of money. I wanted to give my family a better life. A friend in the UK suggested I come over, but I didn't have money for a visa,” he says. “My cousin lent me Rs 1.5 lakh for visa processing. I arrived in London in May 2003 on a student visa and lived in a shared apartment with 8-10 people."

Yash attended a local college for a diploma in Business Management, taking classes for 15 hours a week while working 20 hours a week in various odd jobs.

"I had no exposure in India. In the UK, I had to learn to survive. I did all kinds of jobs—from security guard to shop assistant to sandwich maker,” he candidly reveals, reflecting on his early struggles in the UK.

“At 22, my focus was to make money and send something home every month so my family could live more comfortably. We didn't have a refrigerator, TV, or computer back home. I sent Rs 5,000 in 2003, and my mother bought our first fridge."

By 2006, Yash was earning around £1,500 (?1.6 lakh) a month. He returned to India that year to marry Pratiksha. Upon returning to the UK, he lost his job as a security guard and was jobless after marriage.

It was during this period that he started helping friends with visa applications for free, which gave him the idea that he could make a living in this field. From 2006 to 2008, he gained confidence and word-of-mouth referrals grew.

In September 2008, he completed the OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) course in the UK and became an authorised immigration advisor.

Starting his business, initially called YD Visas, from his home in Hounslow, Yash grew it from zero investment to £15,000 (Rs 16 lakh) a month in revenue by 2014.

He moved from Hounslow to a 100 sq ft office in Central London in 2010, then to a larger office in 2012, and finally to an 800 sq ft office in 2014. He hired his first employee that year.

Yash expanded his business in a big way in 2017 when he registered his company A Y & J Solicitors

"I took a big gamble moving to Central London, a commercial hub. It's a big achievement to have an office here," he says. In 2017, Yash registered A Y & J Solicitors with the Solicitor Registration Authority of the UK, hiring a solicitor to work for him while he ran the firm.

Today, Yash has 43 employees, including staff in the UK and India, with an office in Ahmedabad.

On the personal front, Yash and Pratiksha have a son, Jivin, 15, and a daughter, Saavi, 6.  Yash enjoys playing online chess, reading, hiking, and spending time with his children.

His advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: "Focus on one thing, work hard, keep going, and be patient. Think about how you can add value by understanding what your clients need." - ©TWL

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