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The UK’s Quest For Innovative Immigrants

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Date Published: July 18, 2022 | Date Updated: August 10th, 2022
By July 18, 2022 August 10th, 2022 No Comments
The UK's Quest For Innovative Immigrants

The UK has a long history of innovation in science and technology. It ranks fourth on the Global Innovation Index, and its government continues to put massive efforts into elevating innovation and research within its borders. 

It is, then, only logical for the country to want to attract the globe’s best and brightest, offering various routes of entry into the UK to ply their innovative trade. This approach was best highlighted by the launch of the UK Innovator Visa, as there is no room to misinterpret its main objective.

After a slow start, the UK’ Innovator Visa finally got into its stride, as applications rose a staggering 330% year-on-year between 2019 and 2020. The number continued to grow in 2021, and if past data is any indication, the number of applications will continue to grow. 

However, as popular as the Innovator Visa is, there are various other routes for the world’s best professionals to consider when looking to immigrate to the UK, such as the Start-Up Visa, or the High Potential Individual Visa. This article will take a closer look at the options available in the UK, and how they differ from each other.

The Innovator Visa

The premise of the innovator visa is simple, those who meet these requirements can apply for a residence permit (leave to enter) in the UK:

  • Must be willing to set up and run an innovative business (meaning a business not available in the UK market yet) on UK shores 
  • Must obtain an endorsement letter from a government-approved endorsement body
  • Must have enough money to reside in the UK without access to public funds
  • Must invest 50,000 GBP into the business
  • Must be over 18, and
  • Must meet the English language requirement.

Successful applicants will obtain a three-year visa, which is extendable for another three years at the end of its initial terms. However, at the time of extension, they must maintain or obtain another endorsement.

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After spending five years in the UK, they can then apply for a permanent residence (indefinite leave to remain) and then citizenship after the sixth year, if they meet the minimum physical residence requirement, of course.

The Start-Up Visa (SUV)

Much like the Innovator Visa, the SUV's main goal is to attract innovative businesses to UK shores.  

However, while there are many similarities between the Innovator Visa and the SUV, such as the requirement to establish an innovative business and the need to obtain an endorsement prior to opening that business, some glaring differences explain why they are two separate options.  

To better understand the differences, it is vital to note the requirements of the SUV, as any applicant must:

  • Intend to establish an innovative business that is not available in the UK market
  • Obtain an endorsement letter from an approved endorsing body
  • Have enough money to live in the UK for the entire validity of the visa without recourse to public funds
  • Meet the minimum English requirement, and
  • Be at least 18 years of age.

The first difference is the minimum investment amount, which is 50,000 GBP under the Innovator Visa, but is not set under the SUV, as the latter does not require a minimum investment to qualify.

UK Innovator and startup visas - Savory & Partners

The UK has a long history of innovation in science and technology; it ranks fourth on the Global Innovation Index.

The second major variation is the list of endorsing bodies, as they differ between the Innovator Visa and the SUV, with the latter housing a lot of universities and education institutes on its list. 

The third - and most crucial - difference is the visa validity. As the SUV is only valid for two years, and it cannot be renewed. Any SUV holder must switch to another visa, most commonly the Innovator Visa, at the end of its two-year period to remain in the UK.

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However, this is where the SUV and Innovator Visa complement each other, as one of the laws under the Innovator Visa state that applicants can forgo the minimum investment amount of 50,000 GBP if their business was already established under another visa requiring an endorsement, which in this case would be the SUV.  

This allows applicants who do not have access to 50,000 GBP in transferrable funds to eventually reach the Innovator Visa and, subsequently, indefinite leave to remain without scrambling for funding.

High Potential Individual Visa (HPIV)

The third popular visa on the list is the HPIV, a simple route for those with a degree from a list of eligible universities that the UK announces each year in November.

Those who have obtained a degree from a university on the list in the five years prior to applying can obtain a two-year visa to move to the UK and either set up a business or look for paid work.

The requirements are simple, an applicant must:

  • Have obtained a bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D. from an approved university 
  • Meet the English language requirement, and 
  • Have enough funds to reside in the UK without the recourse to public funds.

Once applicants start their business or find a job, they can switch their visa to a Highly Skilled Worker Visa, allowing them to remain in the UK.  

While the HPIV is not an innovative visa per se, it does align with the UK's vision to bring in the best and the brightest the world has to offer. 

To know more about moving to the UK, contact us today to book a free, comprehensive consultation with one of our experts.


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Jeremy Savory

About Jeremy Savory

Jeremy Savory, the founder and CEO of Savory and Partners, runs one of the world’s leading HNW citizenship by investment firms. The second passport company has coverage in over 20 jurisdictions including Europe.

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