New Immigration Routes for Global Talent and Innovators

The Government’s latest Innovation Strategy was published in July 2021. The proposals focus on the UK’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the creation of a “robust and agile economy” that will work for everyone and be viable for future generations.

One of the four “key pillars” identified as being crucial to the strategy is “people” and the need to attract global innovators and highly-skilled individuals.

The introduction of two new visa routes for individuals, the High Potential Individual and Scale-up routes, will add to existing routes and could make the UK one of the most accessible countries in the world for global talent.

New immigration routes

The strategy contains details of the following new visa routes for 2022.

The High Potential Individual visa route

Adding to the Global Talent Route, the new High Potential Individual route will see graduates of top global universities able to apply to enter the UK without a job offer. As an unsponsored route, the employer of a “high potential individual” won’t require a sponsorship licence.

The route will offer the visa-holder flexibility to switch jobs and employers, and to extend their visa so they can settle in the UK, thus contributing to the UK economy.

The strategy proposals include scope for the visa route to expand eligibility to additional characteristics of high potential other than university graduation.

The Scale-Up visa route

Skilled migrant workers who have a job offer with the required salary from a qualifying “scale up” business, will be able to enter the UK on the Scale-Up visa route.

The ‘scale up’ business will be able to apply for fast track verifications 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.

This new visa route will allow eligible individuals to work, switch jobs or employers, and, if they meet certain requirements, extend their visa in order to settle in the UK.

Global Business Mobility visa

Overseas businesses and companies specialising in innovation will have greater flexibility to come to the UK to grow their businesses and transfer workers to the UK. The Global Business Mobility visa route will streamline a number of existing routes and incorporate various existing provisions.

Updates to existing visa routes

The strategy document also provides details of how existing visa routes for innovators and global talent will be “revitalised”.

The Innovator visa route

This current route allows entrepreneurs and talented innovators to enter the UK from overseas to start a venture-backed business or a business that harnesses innovative technologies based in the UK. The visa holder must operate the business in the UK and create jobs for UK workers.

The revitalised route will simplify the existing requirements by streamlining the business eligibility criteria. Fast-track applications may be available when the business ideas are particularly advanced. Any applicant accepted for the Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP) will be eligible automatically for this visa route.

The latest proposals would see the requirement for £50,000 in investment funds removed, providing the applicant is able to show they have sufficient funds for business growth. Further flexibility will be encouraged by removing restrictions on work carried out other than for the primary business.

Encouraging globally-mobile talent into the UK

Current visa routes and programmes already create opportunities for global talent to enter the UK, and to work and study here. Tweaks and changes to the various qualifying criteria, extent of the provisions, and the options available to applicants and visa holders are being evaluated and added in response to Government strategy.

The ‘Global Entrepreneur Programme’ is available to high-skilled migrant tech founders who have IP-rich businesses they wish to establish in the UK. The ‘Global Talent Visa’ is open to leaders in the fields of research, arts, culture, academia and digital technology. In May 2021 a fast-track option was introduced for winners of globally recognised prizes.

More flexible Graduate Visa routes will allow international students time to live and work in the UK once their studies have been completed successfully. This gives graduates two years following a degree and three years following a PHD to live and work, doing any job, in the UK. This should mean that they have time to find the best, most suitable use of their talents and to potentially fulfil the UK’s innovation needs.

Specialist immigration solicitors for visa applications and more

The ever changing rules and requirements for UK immigration can make it seem hard to enter the UK or to fulfil your business’s needs for talent.

By instructing Wellers Immigration Service you can eliminate much of the confusion and hassle that is often associated with immigration applications. Take advantage of our vast experience, thorough knowledge and team of expert support staff.

Please call Rosalind Nunoo on 020 8290 7982 or email