On the 30 January 2020, the UK Government announced that the Global Talent Visa will replace the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.  In March 2019, the UK Government also replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur and Entrepreneur Visa. The changes to the Global Talent Visa endorsement process are minor and the Stage 1 endorsement process remains the same.  More information read my blog about the changes here

After spending three years advising clients about the Stage 1 UK Global Talent Visa in digital technologies (formerly the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) #TechNationVisa, the introduction of the Start up visa and Innovator’s visa have come up in many conversations because these are the other options that a budding or talented tech entrepreneur can consider.

This is because in 2019, the Start up visa and Innovator visa replaced the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa and the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. Having been a recipient of both the Entrepreneur visa and Global Talent Visa, I understand how confusing it can be to decide which one you are eligible for endorsement. So here is a comparative table of the three UK Tech visas to help in understanding the various options.

The similarity or commonality between all the options below is that an application for all these visas follows a 2 stage process.

Stage 1: The application must be approved by an endorsing body.

Stage 2: Only if the application is endorsed can the applicant make an application to the Home office for the visa.

*Please Note: Stage 2 is a UK immigration (Home Office) application.

This comparative table is to be used as a guide only.  While I assist applicants with the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa endorsement in digital technology #TechNationVisa, I am not an immigration solicitor. I highly recommend you seek legal advice from a UK immigration solicitor for immigration advice.

For mobile device users, you can download the table below.

Global Talent VisaStart Up
Visa
Innovator
Visa
Criteria





















Founder, employee of a company or talent working in the field that can be endorsed by an Endorsing body in Stage 1.

You must meet key and mandatory criteria. See relevant guidelines for each endorsing body.
Innovation
The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

Viability
The applicant has, or is actively developing, the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.

Scalability
There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national markets.

Innovation 
The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage.

Viability 
The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business.




Scalability
There is evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets.
Is this a 2 stage process?
(Endorsing body must approve your application first BEFORE you apply for the visa)
Yes












Yes












Yes












Endorsing Body





1. Tech Nation, for digital technology;
2. The Royal Society for science and medicine;
3. The Royal Academy of Engineering for engineering;
4. The British Academy, for humanities;
5. Arts Council England, for arts and culture, fashion, architecture and film and tv.
6. UKRI

A list of UK universities, accelerators and organisations
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/endorsing-bodies-start-up
















A list of UK universities, accelerators and organisations
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/endorsing-bodies-start-up















Maximum years under the visa





5 years
(apply inside or outside UK)
2 years






3 years






ExtensionYesNo – see Innovators visaYes
Apply for settlement?(Indefinite leave to remain)Yes
Exceptional talent – 3 years

Exceptional promise – 5 years

UKRI – 3 years
No





Yes
(after 5 years)




Stage 1 Endorsement Fee



£456





Nil
(endorsing body cannot charge an endorsement fee)

Nil
(endorsing body cannot charge an endorsement fee)

Stage 2
Visa Fee

£152





£493
(apply inside UK)

£363
(apply outside UK)
£1277
(apply inside UK)

£1021
(apply outside UK)
Timeline for Endorsement8 weeks 
Depends on the endorsing bodyDepends on the endorsing body
Timeline for VisaApproximately
3 – 8 weeks
Approximately
3 weeks
Approximately
3 weeks
Proof of Required funds






























No































Yes
Minimum of £945 for 90 consecutive days before you apply



























Yes

1.Minimum £945 in your bank account for 90 consecutive days before you apply.
2.You cannot use
a.money from your investment funds or money earned while working in the UK illegally

You must have at least £50,000 in investment funds if you want to set up a new business. You do not need funds if your business is already established and has been endorsed for an earlier visa (e.g start up visa)


English language requirement


































No




































Yes
You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
1. passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening; or
2.having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD*You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.
Yes
You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
1. passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B2 in reading, writing, speaking and listening; or
2.having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD*You do not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’ve already proved it to be level B2 or above in an earlier successful application.
You can















1. work for an employer, as a director of a company or be self-employed,
2. change jobs without telling the Home Office
3.do voluntary work, travel abroad and return to the UK*
3.bring family members with you
*see ILR requirements
1.bring family members with you
2. switch to this visa from some other visa categories
3. work in another job, as well as working for your business a “majority” of your time





1.set up a business or several businesses
2.work for your business – this includes being employed as a director, or self-employed as a member of a business partnership
3.bring family members with you

You cannot
















1.get public funds
2.work as a doctor or dentist in training, work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach








1.get public funds
2.work as a doctor or dentist in training, work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
3.settle in the UK on this visa





1.get public funds
2.work as a doctor or dentist in training, work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
3.do any work outside your business, for example work where you’re employed by another business
More information

https://www.gov.uk/global-talenthttps://www.gov.uk/start-up-visa

https://www.gov.uk/innovator-visa

Here are just some examples of criteria for endorsing bodies from relevant universities for the Start up and Innovator’s visa. For criteria for other endorsing bodies, please contact them directly.

University of Manchester, Newcastle University and Durham University.

In my opinion based on my personal experience, I think the UK Global Talent Visa in digital technologies #TechNationVisa is the most flexible because: 

  • You can work anywhere you want to in the UK digital tech sector because the visa is attached to you;
  • There is no requirement for proof of funds;
  • There is no requirement for proof of investment;
  • There is no requirement for a business plan;
  • There is no requirement for providing an update  to the endorsing body about continual progress on your business;
  • There is no requirement to take an English language test;
  • Applicants for the Start up and Innovator visa are for must be endorsed by establishing a viable, scalable and innovative business.  Applicants for the UK Global Talent Visa must be endorsed with exceptional talent or promise before you can work for a company in the tech sector or start your own business; and
  • the main difference is with the UK Global Talent Visa endorsement, you need to show that you have made significant contributions to the tech sector, add value to the tech sector and are a leading talent in your specialist field.

For more blogs on the UK Global Talent Visa endorsement, click here.

*Please Note: This comparative table is to be used as a guide only.  While I assist applicants with the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa in digital technology endorsement applications #TechNationVisa, I am not an immigration solicitor. I highly recommend you seek legal advice from a UK immigration solicitor for immigration advice.

This blog was written by Michelle Hua, Consultant, Speaker, CEO & Founder of Made With Glove. In 2016, Michelle was the recipient of the Exceptional Talent Visa (now called Global Talent Visa) and is the former #TechNationVisa Ambassador.  Michelle consults for highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and people working in digital technologies on how they can receive the endorsement for exceptional talent or exceptional promise. Read Michelle’s other blogs on the #TechNationVisa here and Michelle’s own journey here.