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Last month, the UK government announced its Innovation Strategy in a published report. In an effort to continue attracting global talent to the UK, new visa routes have been planned. The introduction of a new ‘high potential individual route’ allows individuals to enter the UK without a job offer on the condition they meet the other criteria.

In summary, two routes will be introduced.

‘High Potential Individual’ route

Successful applicants will be able to enter the UK without a job offer as long as they have graduated from a top global university. The aim is to :

·       simplify entry to the UK to internationally mobile individuals who demonstrate high potential.

·       remove the job requirement giving them the flexibility to work, switch jobs or employers.

·       ensure that they make contributions to the UK economy.

·       allow successful applicants to extend their visa and settle in the UK, subject to meeting the criteria.

Scale-up visa route

Successful applicants must:

·       meet the salary requirements and

·       demonstrate an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period of 20%,

·       have a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.

Eligible individuals will be able to work, switch jobs or employers. They may extend their visa and settle in the UK, subject to meeting specific requirements.


Once these routes are in place, the UK government plans to revamp and update the Innovator Route by:

  • simplifying the eligibility criteria.
  • providing a fast track, light touch endorsement process.
  • applicants that have been accepted on to the Department for International Trade’s Global Entrepreneur Programme will be automatically eligible.
  • the requirement for at least £50,000 in investment funds will be removed, provided that the endorsing body is satisfied the applicant has sufficient funds to grow their business.
  • the restriction on doing work outside of the primary business will also be removed.

These reforms will complement the Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP) which continues to attract highly skilled migrant tech founders with IP-rich businesses to the UK. The programme will focus on attracting international talent in technology clusters and through working with academic institutions from overseas.

With the recent introductions of the post Graduate Route where international students with UK degrees can remain in the UK for 2 to 3 (for those with PhDs) years to work, it is expected that the UK will continue to attract the best and brightest from across the world.

It is believed that the UK government will implement the Innovation Strategy in a Statement of Changes later in the year. The Nathanson Partnership will provide an update as soon as this is announced.


Bee has more than 18 years’ experience in UK immigration and nationality law and has been advising businesses that have been expanding into the UK or growing their UK presence or workforce.