The Chancellor of the Exchequer outlined the UK’s Innovation Strategy in the Autumn Budget on 27 October, in an address seeking to build on the UK’s innovative foundations. The Chancellor talked of investing in technology and innovation, creating a robust and agile economy, and opening the UK’s borders to top tech talent.

As part of this new strategy, some changes have been made to the immigration landscape, notably the introduction of a Scale-up visa route, tweaks to the current Innovator route, and the introduction of a Global Talent Network.

Immigration lawyer Nicola Richards outlines the new visa and mobility plans in this article.

Scale-up visa

A Scale-up visa route has been introduced to enable UK scale-up companies to hire talented individuals from overseas who have a highly skilled job offer from a qualifying UK scale-up. The applicant will also need to satisfy a minimum salary level.

The company looking to hire the individual will need to apply via a fast-track verification process, by demonstrating an annual average revenue or employment growth rate over a three-year period greater than 20%, and they must have hired a minimum of 10 employees at the start of the three-year period.

The UK government may also explore whether scale-up companies who can demonstrate an expectation of strong growth in future years can also qualify, following a review.

More details are to be announced next year, and the visa route is due to open in Spring 2022.

Changes to Innovator Visa

The current Innovator Visa has a requirement that the visa applicant has access to £50,000 investment funds. Under the new proposed changes, the government has confirmed that applicants will no longer be required to have at least £50,000 in investment funds to apply for the Innovator Visa, provided that the endorsing body is satisfied the applicant has sufficient funds to grow their business.

Global Talent Network

The Chancellor outlined plans for a Global Talent Network, which will launch initially in the Bay Area of the US, Boston and Bangalore. This new network will identify, attract, and relocate the best global talent in key science and tech sectors.

The Chancellor’s speech makes it clear that the UK government is trying to attract tech talent to the UK, as it is widely acknowledged there is a shortage of homegrown talent in this sector. Whilst the current sponsorship process does encourage sponsorship of tech roles (as the majority of these now fall within the Shortage Occupation List, which comes with a reduced government fee), to hire under these roles, the UK company needs to apply for a Sponsor Licence, which can take time, and which occasionally can be inappropriate for the role itself.

It therefore looks like a step in the right direction for encouraging international tech talent to move to the UK by removing obstacles to the mobility of tech talent. We will keep a watchful eye over these forthcoming changes.

For further advice on your visa or any other immigration-related advice, please contact Nicola using the details below.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.