What is the change? The U.K. has announced that it will launch a start-up visa route in the spring of 2019.

What does the change mean? The visa route will be available to foreign entrepreneurs who have an endorsement from a university or an approved business sponsor, such as an accelerator. The route is likely to supersede the current Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route, which is currently available only to applicants who hold a U.K.-recognized bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or Ph.D.

  • Implementation time frame: The visas are expected to be introduced in the spring of 2019.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tier 1 visas for foreign entrepreneurs.
  • Who is affected: Foreign entrepreneurs who meet the eligibility criteria, including having an endorsement from a university or an approved business sponsor.
  • Next steps: Additional details are expected to be released between now and when the visas become available next spring.

Background: The U.K. announced that it would launch the start-up visa route as part of London Tech Week, recognizing the demand for changes to the entrepreneur category from stakeholders in the tech community and on recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee.

It is difficult to gauge how broad an impact the visas will have. Currently, the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa route is available to applicants who (1) hold a U.K.-recognized bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or Ph.D.; (2) have an endorsement issued in the last three months from an authorized U.K. institute of higher education; (3) have at least £945 in savings for in-country applicants and £1,890 for out-of-country applicants; (4) have met the applicable English language requirement; and (5) have permission from their sponsor to remain in the U.K. if their sponsor is a government agency or an international scholarship agency.

With the newly announced visa route, the U.K. intends to open up to “a wider pool of talented business founders,” but few details are available yet regarding who will qualify for the visas or how many will be available.

BAL Analysis: The new visa program is welcome news and will provide a new route for some entrepreneurs coming to the U.K. Detailed information on the visa route is not yet available, however, and the impact could be limited. Companies will continue to use Tier 2 (General) visas to meet the bulk of their high-skilled immigration needs. BAL will follow developments in the U.K. and will provide additional information on the new visas as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2018 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact