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27 July 2021

UK Innovation Strategy to Introduce New Visas for International Talent

The Home Office’s new vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation has paved the way to strategise on new visa types for international talent.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
UK Innovation Strategy to Introduce New Visas for International Talent

By Vibha Angre, legal intern

The plan rests on four important pillars and will need the systems of business, government, R&D performing organisations, finance providers, funders, and others to come together in order to achieve this vision. 

The plan is a part of the Build Back Better initiative of the UK and to facilitate this the Home Office will be introducing new visa routes for high-potential individuals to come to the UK.

What are the four key pillars? 

The four key pillars that the plan rests on are: 

  1. Unleashing Business: Fuelling businesses that want to innovate by investing £200 million to target the growth-stage funding gap that the life sciences companies in the UK are currently facing. 
  2. People: To make the UK the most exciting place for talent innovation. This will be done by introducing High Potential individual and Scale-up visa routes and by revitalising the Innovator route in order to attract and retain high-skilled people. 
  3. Institutions and Places: To ensure that the current research, development, and innovation institutions serve the needs of businesses in the UK. An independent review will be headed by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Paul Nurse into all forms of research, development, and innovation. 
  4. Missions and Technology: To drive the capability in key technologies by simulating innovation and to tackle the major challenges faced by the UK. This will be done with the help of a new Innovation Missions programme.

What are the new visa routes for this vision? 

The UK will open up its borders to the world’s best innovators to make the UK a global hub for innovation through the Office for Talent. This will be achieved by starting a new and improved visa route for innovators with the addition of funding for globally mobile talent. 

The new visa routes are: 

High Potential Individual Route:
In addition to the existing Global Talent visa route, a new High Potential Individual route will be introduced for high-potential individuals to come to the UK. This route allows the person to extend their visa and settle in the UK upon meeting the specific requirements to settle.

Eligibility criteria 

  • To be a graduate from a top global university. 
  • No job offer requirement to enable flexible work, permission to switch jobs and employers, and make contributions to the UK economy.

Scale-Up Route:
This route allows talented individuals to come to the UK with a high-skilled job offer. Individuals can extend their visas and settle in the UK so long as they meet the requirements. 

Eligibility criteria:

  • High Skilled job offer for a qualifying scale-up 
  • Meet the salary level threshold 

Fast track verification process: if “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.”


Revitalised Innovator Route:
To allow talented innovators and entrepreneurs to come into the UK to start and operate a venture-backed business and that can harness innovative technologies and the ability to create jobs in the UK to boost growth. 

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • The business must demonstrate high potential to add value to the UK, is innovative, and can grow. 
  • Fast Track Applications: those who have been accepted into the Department for International Trade’s Global Entrepreneur Programme will be eligible automatically. 
  • Applicants do not need to have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for the Innovator visa route. 
  • Applicants can now work outside their primary business 
  • Overseas businesses and innovative companies will be granted greater flexibility in transferring workers to the UK through the Global Business Mobility visa. 

The Rt. Hon Kwasi Kwartend MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has stated in his foreword that
“by supporting innovation in places, sectors, and businesses across the UK, we can level up the economy and create high-value new jobs and trading opportunities as we build back better.” 

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