What are the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme and innovators scheme?

Highly Skilled Migrants Programme and Innovators Scheme    

A number of schemes were created to attract talent to the U.K. in addition to wealth and investment. The immigration rules are not solely geared to wooing business people with assets or those who can create jobs for the UK job market. These schemes are very much a twenty first century initiative: five examples have been created since 2000 including the innovators scheme, the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme; the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland scheme; the International Graduate scheme and the Science and Engineering scheme. The UK can now be seen to be competing with Australia and Canada in attracting skilled migrants and not just the wealthy.

What is the innovators scheme?

This scheme aims to attract people with promising business ideas, particularly in the fields of e-commerce, science and technology. The rules concerning capital and investment are much more relaxed than in the usual immigration rules for entry for business. This is so that new and creative ideas can flourish. The Home Office explains that it wanted to attract those who would bring ‘exceptional economic benefit’ to this country.

However, there are some conditions for such an innovatory business. Whilst it is necessary for there to be enough money available to finance the business for a period of six months after the arrival of the applicant(s) in the UK, this money does not have to be in the applicant’s own name. Indeed, it can belong to a third party investor but the applicant must own at least 5% of the shares in the company which additionally must be registered in the U.K.

The remaining rules under the innovators scheme are identical to the usual rules for entry for business. The applicant must be able to support themselves and any dependents without working outside the particular business stated in the innovators scheme application. The business proposal must also be one that intends to create two full time positions available to the UK job market.

If this initial set of criteria are met, this does not guarantee success. There is a points based system in this further stage in which the application is rated on a number of points intended to discourage any inexperienced applicants. These include scores for work and business experience; evidence of entrepreneurial ability; educational qualifications (mainly in science and technology); a sound business plan; job creation potential; the merits of the business idea; research and development budget and personal references.

What is the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme?

The aim of the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme was to attract ‘high human capital individuals, who have the qualifications and skills required by UK businesses to complete in the global marketplace.’ The Highly Skilled Migrants Programme, and the innovators scheme, can both lead to settlement in the UK In this Programme, there is no requirement, as there is with a work permit, to have a specific job to come to: qualification is purely on the basis of meeting certain criteria.

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  • What must Highly Skilled Migrants be aware of when they are in the UK?