In a new policy paper published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the UK government outlined plans to become a global hub for innovation. One of the ways in which it wants to achieve this is by opening up new visa routes – ‘High Potential Individual Visa’ and ‘Scale-up Visa’ – and updating the current ‘Innovator Visa’ route.
The High Potential Individual Route
This visa will be open to international applicants who have graduated from a top global university and would like to come and settle in the UK. What is unique about this visa is that there is no job-offer requirement to be granted this visa. This will enable high-prospective individuals to work flexibly, switching jobs between employers. This route will allow eligible individuals to permanently settle in the UK, subject to requirements. Questions remain about what institutions will be considered a ‘top global university’ and who will be considered a ‘high potential individual’.
The Scale-Up Visa
This visa is for individuals with a high-skilled job offer. The job offer will need to be from a qualifying scale-up and at the required salary level, and will enable individuals to fast-track the verification process. Scale-up is described as a business which is undergoing a distinct phase of company growth – annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a 3 year period greater than 20%, and had a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the 3 year period. Similarly to the High Potential Individual Route, it will allow individuals to work and switch jobs between employers and eventually settle in the UK, subject to specific requirements.
The New Innovator Visa
This route is for overseas innovators and entrepreneurs that would like to start and operate a business which is either venture-backed or harnesses innovative technologies in the UK. This is how the new Investor Visa will differ to its older version:
- Business eligibility criteria will be simplified and streamlined: applicants will need to show that their future business has a high potential to grow, add value and remain innovative.
- Applications will be fast-tracked: this will be available to applicants whose business ideas are ‘particularly advanced’. Applicants who have been accepted on to the Department for International Trade’s Global Entrepreneur Programme will be automatically eligible.
- Higher flexibility: it will no longer be required to have at least £50,000 in investment funds in order to apply for the Investor Visa, provided that the applicant still has sufficient funds to grow the business. The restriction on doing work outside of the applicant’s primary business will also be removed.
Finally, the Global Business Mobility Visa will allow innovative companies from overseas to flexibly transfer workers to the UK, in order to establish and expand their business.
Although the government has not outlined specific requirements of the new Innovator visa routes, including what institutions will be considered a ‘top global university’ for the High Potential Individual visa, this new range of visas is likely to both attract top innovative talent and simplify relocation to the UK.