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Innovating immigration: updates to Entrepreneur Visas


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As many entrepreneurs and international investors will know from experience, and as the funding statistics show, the UK is a great place to start and do business. With well-developed angel networks, established VC and PE houses and accessible grant programmes, SMEs have access to a range of support, allowing them to grow their business and boost the economy.

As of March 2019, entering this ecosystem as an entrepreneur and business leader has become easier for non-European Economic Area nationals. The new Innovator Visa now permits entrepreneurs with at least £50,000 of investment to develop their business in the UK; this is a significant reduction from the £200,000 needed by the previous Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. 

The Start-Up visa, alternatively, allows those with high-value ideas to start their business in the UK, with up to two years leave to do so. These new Visa categories aim to aid the immigration of those with innovative and high-potential ideas into the UK, further bolstering the existing start-up scene.

These policy changes will be of interest to all bodies in the high-growth sector; corporate financiers will be able to engage newly interested international clients, while lawyers and accountants will be brought in to mediate these cross-border transactions.

UK Visas for entrepreneurs and innovators

Important players in this international dynamic are the endorsement bodies. The international entrepreneurs’ business ideas will undergo assessment by these organisations, where their business model will be assessed for innovation, viability and scalabilty. These assessments will be focused around the benefit that the business and its investment could bring to the UK, either through tax, job creation or social impact of some sort.

Corporate Financiers, investors and accelerator organisations occur frequently on the list; through endorsing new, innovative companies for the Visa, they may hope to win their business later on in their evolution. Each endorsement body will be allocated just 25 visa permits to distribute to worthy businesses – not many when you consider that there are currently just 24 endorsing bodies at the time of writing. Extensive due diligence, research and prioritisation will be of high importance, to ensure these Visas are given to deserving candidates.

There are many potential changes that could be observed in the high-growth ecosystem as the result of these immigration policy alterations. We expect to see more international founders and co-founders of UK businesses, and later down the line, we could see greater expansion into international territory. 

In all, we hope to see some of the world’s best disruptive business models and tech innovators set up in the UK, where their ideas will be best supported to bring a multitude of benefits to our economy.