On 22 July, the UK Government published a UK Innovation Strategy which sets out the government’s vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035.  As part of this strategy, the UK intends to make the UK the most exciting place for innovation and talent.  This means introducing new visa routes and revitalising the existing Innovator route to attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent.

High Potential Individual route

 The UK government has announced a new immigration route for ‘High Potential Individuals’ as part of its new Innovation Strategy. This route intends to allow ‘internationally mobile individuals who demonstrate high potential’ to come to the UK without a job offer, allowing them the flexibility to work, switch jobs and contribute to the UK economy. The route will also enable those who are eligible to extend their visa and apply for settlement in the UK.

While specific details or eligibility criteria currently remain unclear, the route will be intended for graduates from ‘top global universities’. There is some speculation that ‘top global universities’ shall be by way of reference to an approved list, however eligibility could indeed be more discretionary, as there is some reference to expanding the scope of applicants to include ‘other characteristics of high potential’.

Scale-up Route

The Innovation Strategy also proposes a ‘scale-up’ visa, which is intended for those with a high skilled job offer from a ‘qualifying scale-up at the required salary level’. Scale-ups will be able to apply through a fast-track verification process on this route, as long as they can demonstrate an ‘annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period greater than 20%, and a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period’. The scale-up route will allow individuals to work, switch jobs or employers in addition to extending their visa/settling in the UK (subject to requirements).

The Innovator Visa

The Innovation Strategy also confirms that the existing Innovator route will be ‘revitalised’ by simplifying the eligibility criteria and fast-tracking applications.  They also propose to  provide more flexibility by no longer requiring applicants to have at least £50,000 investment funds provided that the endorsing body is satisfied that the applicant has sufficient funds to grow their business.  These proposed changes are intended to tempt more entrepreneurs to the UK to set up innovative businesses.

It is unclear when the new immigration routes are intended to begin, however further details are expected in due course.