UK beats the US to a tech-friendly Startup Visa

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Right now the UK media is making a lot of noise about new Visa rules which mean “super-investors” willing to put £5m into a UK bank account will get the right to stay indefinitely in Britain after only three years. This is two years faster than the average migrant who still has to wait five years. Deposit £10m and the time drops to two years. Clearly the new rules are aimed at high-value investors and entrepreneurs.

However, what the media is missing is the new rules governing entrepreneurs wanting to enter the UK. Now, beginning April 6th, “high-potential” entrepreneurs will be allowed to come to the UK so long as they have £50,000 in funding from a reputable organisation.

That is ridiculously good news for tech startups wanting to set up shop in the UK, and startups in the UK wanting to hire in talent they can’t get locally – CTOs for instance. Plus, entrepreneurs will be allowed to enter the UK with their business partners as long as they have access to joint funds.

These “high-potential” guys will also be allowed to enter the UK on a “visitor visa” in order to secure funding and make arrangements for starting their business before they transfer to a full Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa (which is the normal Visa for normal, non- high growth entrepreneurs, who still need £200,000 in funding to qualify).

So a Tier 1 (“Exceptional talent”) applicant will not need to be sponsored by an employer but will need to be endorsed by an “accredited competent body”. Who are these bodies? Well, the list of “competent bodies” will are yet to be announced by the government, but we’re hoping they will include VC, Angels and other investors. But we’re fairly sure this will work out well for tech startups.

The news is very very good for the UK, and will create a huge war for talent in Europe as other countries race to create similarly smart rules.

And in case you were counting, the UK just beat the US to the cherished “startup visa”.

On March 14 this year three powerful US Senators introduced legislation in the Congress which if passed would instantly provide a two-year US visa to any entrepreneur that can obtain an investor to fund his idea. The StartUp Visa Act of 2011 would allow an immigrant entrepreneur to receive a two year visa as long as they can show that a qualified U.S. investor is willing to invest in the immigrant’s venture with a minimum investment of $100,000 or can show that the business has generated at least $100,000 in annual sales from the US.

But that legislation is no where near being passed yet. The UK just beat the US to it.