The UK’s Tier 1 visa is making headlines with the announcement of the new Tech Nation Visa Scheme. This initiative supports start-ups by making it easier for skilled non-EU tech workers to work in the UK. We take a look at how this compares to one of the UK’s 30 other start-up accelerators to gain entry into the country.
The UK joins Israel, Australia and Germany in implementing new start-up-friendly visa protocols.
Tech Nation Visa Scheme
This scheme, which comes into effect on 12 November 2015, will give start-ups access to the talent needed to grow their local operations. The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa also lets companies bring in up to five new team members at the same time.
For the first time, “exceptional promise” will help you qualify for the Tier 1 visa. Before, only “exceptional talent” with a proven track record was recognised. This increases the chances for anyone who can show that their skills will help drive the UK tech industry.
UK start-up accelerators
If you feel the “exceptional promise” route isn’t for you, there is another option.
The UK has over 30 start-up accelerators that provide pre-seed funding to selected entrepreneurs in return for equity. These accelerators are government-endorsed, so Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) applicants only need £50,000 investment funds available instead of the usual £200,000.
This is a viable alternative to a Tier 1 visa, but competition for these programs is tight. Thousands of applicants contend for only a handful of positions within each accelerator.
Wait, there’s more
As Tier 1 visas are so difficult to get, the Tier 2 (General) visa route is often preferable for those wanting to live and work in the UK. However, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has proposed that the minimum salary threshold for this visa be raised. If this goes through, UK-based tech firms will have to significantly increase the salaries of international applicants.
Those currently working in the tech or IT sector on a Tier 2 visa need to earn £30,000. With MAC’s proposal, the minimum salary requirements could be raised by as much as £25,000.
For many of the smaller tech companies this is not feasible as a starting salary, and may lead to a decline in Tier 2 visa applicants in this sector.