In a move that builds on other recent visa system reforms, a new visa category is to be introduced in Spring 2019 which aims to make the process for obtaining permission for entrepreneurs to come to the UK both faster and smoother. The new category will replace the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa which is exclusively for graduates.
Under current rules, budding graduate entrepreneurs who hold a UK-recognised bachelor's degree, master's degree or PhD or who have been identified by the Department for International Trade (DIT) as elite global entrepreneurs, receive endorsements from their university or DIT to support their visa applications. Graduate entrepreneurs then have 2 years to establish one or more businesses in the UK, although they can only be granted visas in this category in 12-month increments and after 2 years, they need to find another qualifying category to switch into or otherwise leave the UK. The existing scheme is capped at 2,000 per year, with only 839 approved applicants in the year ending March 2018.
Details of the new category - designed following advice from the Migration Advisory Committee and feedback from the tech sector - have not yet been released. However, endorsing bodies will come from a wider pool of organisations, including universities and approved business sponsors, such as accelerators.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid, said:
"The UK can be proud that we are a leading nation when it comes to tech and innovation, but we want to do more to attract businesses to the UK and our migration system plays a key part in that."
The announcement comes as welcome news for the tech sector, which is keen to ensure the brightest and best global entrepreneurs can come to the UK to start new businesses and contribute to existing tech enterprises.
This article originally featured in Downtown in Business Birmingham.