But 2013 gave her a reason to rejoice. The UK government launched a Graduate Entrepreneur visa for outstanding students with business plans. Kaur was able to stay back thanks to her startup plan that involved exploring the use of artificial intelligence to optimise household electricity consumption. “My plan was endorsed by a panel of experts and my deep-tech venture was funded by the university. But there were restrictions. I could only work on my business and was not allowed to do anything else,” she says.
Her hard work paid off in 2016, when she secured the Exceptional Talent visa. This “golden ticket” gave her more freedom to grow professionally and take up another job, while working on the startup. She could now earn more. “This is a route for highly skilled Indian professionals who are seen to add value to the UK economy in sectors with high growth potential. Over the last four years, Indians have won the highest number of these visas — 432 — followed by Americans at 256,” says the 29-year-old entrepreneur who now works with a UK government funded research organisation, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
Kaur says more Indians can rejoice now, as the doorway to the UK has been widened. The UK government has now revamped the Graduate Entrepreneur visa to Start-up visa, which allows a wider pool of overseas talent to come to the UK and establish new businesses there. The UK government, according to a spokesperson at the British High Commission in New Delhi, is focussed on attracting the brightest and best skilled immigrants from India.
According to the new rules that became effective from March 29, applicants have to secure an endorsement from certain UK government approved entities before applying for a visa. Endorsing bodies are responsible for assessing the business plans and ideas of an application.
What makes this route attractive is that applicants need not secure funding before applying. The two year visa allows participants to do other work to support themselves while developing their business. “Those successful in the startup route may progress into the new Innovator visa route if they wish to continue developing their business in the UK beyond two years. Those who do not wish to pursue their business can switch to another immigration route. For example, if they have a skilled job or a job offer, they can apply for other appropriate visas,” say the spokesperson of the British High Commission.
The Innovator visa route is for more experienced entrepreneurs with funds. This route also requires a business sponsor to assesses the business ideas. Applicants might have to show they have or can get £50,000 to invest in their company. This is lower than the £200,000 required to apply under the previous entrepreneur visa route. “It is a simpler and quicker process overall.
It should also give greater certainty to applicants who have been endorsed by a business sponsor,” the spokesperson adds. Visas are issued for three years, after which innovators can apply for extension or for permission to settle in the UK.
The UK decided to come up with revamped and easier visa rules as Brexit might make it unviable for workers from the European Union to stay back in the country. This could leave the UK gasping for highly skilled workers. “The Start-up and Innovator visas have been launched to ensure that the UK remains a world-leading destination for innovative business. Neither visa has a cap on numbers,” says the high commission spokesperson.
“India has a lot of talent, and technically armed talent. I expect to see many success stories of Indian students and more world-class businesses coming up here,” says UK-based Sanam Arora, founder and chairperson, National Indian Students and Alumni Union.
But she cautions that the Start-up visa route does not allow visa extensions and settlement. That the new visas have taken the emphasis away from how much money the applicant will invest is likely to help many student entrepreneurs. “Indian students in the UK will be well placed to make use of the route as a number of universities hold endorsing body status,” says Ian Robinson, partner, Fragomen LLP, an immigration law firm.
“I am glad the government has taken steps to streamline the visa process,” says Catherine McGuinness, chair of policy and resources committee, City of London Corporation. “It is vital that companies of all sizes — from fast-growing fintech firms and creatives to more established international institutions — across London and the UK can employ the people they need at all skill levels.”
6 Comments on this Story
NJS576 days ago
Another type of brain drain. Talented youth being given such attractive offers, where problem of responsible citizen is there.
Rakesh Mital576 days ago
punjabis are crazy to emigrate abroad....they will even sell their family to do so
Mahesh 576 days ago
NONSENSE. GET A BETTER IDEA AND DO IN INDIA AND MAKE BILLIONS. CHEERS