TechStars London approved for UK Entrepreneurs’ Visa

Last week TechStars London was approved for the UK Entrepreneurs’ Visa. If you are accepted to TechStars London, you now automatically get the UK Entrepreneurs’ Visa.

The approval will allow TechStars London teams from outside of the EU to work in the UK for up to three years. After the three years, they can apply to extend their stay by a further two years if they want to continue living here.  Furthermore after three years teams have the right to apply for permission to settle in the UK if their business has created at least 10 new full-time jobs in the UK. Partners and children of the teams can also apply for settlement.

As you likely know, I’ve been advocating for something like this in the US since 2009. Fred Wilson wrote a good post yesterday on the current state of Immigration Reform in the US which includes a summary of the recently introduced comprehensive immigration reform bill. It includes a bunch of things I’ve advocated for since I started paying attention to this in 2009, including a Startup Visa and a STEM Visa (or – in my language – “a Visa stapled to the diploma of every college graduate.”)

I hope we finally get something done in the US. In the mean time, Canada and the UK are being very forward looking about their immigration policy in the context of immigration. The US doesn’t have a monopoly on innovation – it’s time for us to get our act together on the immigration front. In the mean time, TechStars London applications are open!

  • Yup. I’m sure it will get done eventually in the US.

    The smart part about these programs (both Canada and the UK) is that the VC industry is used as a proxy for filtering/qualifying these candidates and companies. And in reality, this doesn’t open the floodgates to thousands, but rather to a few dozens, but the message of openness it projects is far more important.

  • JLM


    The immigration issue in the US is a decidedly more complex undertaking. The UK does not have a border with Mexico and 12MM illegal aliens within its borders.

    The issue in the US is really intertwined with the confrontation between political parties vying for the creation of an enormous voting bloc.

    A splash of terrorism, drug trafficing, slaving and sex makes it all the more spicey and dicey.

    I wish it were as simple as using a bit of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.


    • That’s only partly true. While the UK doesn’t have a mexico border, the last 10 or so years has seen a HUGE influx of people from the new EU countries, primarily Poland but also others who are generally less well off.

      While they are not illegal, they can share some of the same characteristics, and you are starting to see those issues come up now in the UK as they struggle to deal with millions of poorer people looking for a better way of life somewhere.

      • JLM


        The Polish immigration — starting during WWII — is peanuts compared to the illegal immigration into the US.

        The UK has a total of about 63MM people and about 400K Poles. Operating from memory here, so please check this. I think this is correct, but who knows?

        The US has slightly more than 314MM and thus would have comparatively bout 2MM illegals to be directly comparable to the UK-Poles ratios. Please check the math.

        In fact, we have somewhere between 12-24MM depending upon what numbers one embraces. I personally think it trends toward the higher end of the continuum.

        On a comparative basis, the US problem is 6-12 times as large as the UK comparison. Big difference.

        The Poles do not share a border with the UK and thus their immigration is both orderly and constrained by a functioning set of laws.

        I think the numbers prove my assertion. It is a quantum order of magnitude larger problem in the US v the UK.

        Of course, I could be wrong.


        • I dont know if its easy to get the “official” numbers but this article mentions 800,000 “recently arrived” as of 2012

          And thats just Poland (not that I have anything against polish people!) There are many other countries in similar situations.

          Plus with the reduction of passport controls etc. who really knows how big or small the number is.

          The Poles not only don’t share a border but there is essentially no barrier except being able to travel the distance … which is still quite a bit different than the US issue.

          Of course, they are (by definition) not illegal (or “undocumented” if you want to be politically correct), but many work in low or lower-paid cash industries, yet can (legally) claim benefits from the government ….
          The difference that I often see is that here in the US, the “knee-jerk” reaction (to say nothing of holding on to extreme veiws) from politicians is far far more common, rather than a more measured approach which might actually have a chance of doing something.

          I suppose in the end it’s all going to even itself out as everything does.

          I am hugely in favor of promoting the immigration of highly skilled workers, especially people starting companies (although there are of course still many ways this can be abused and used for other than intended purposes)

          I’m very very on the fence with H1B. I think the concept started out fine but I’m pretty skeptical about how it’s actually working out, and I’m also yet to see how we are leveraging the H1B “temporary” situation to increase the education of people here in the US and develop our own educated people

  • Appeos

    Ironically, I’m planning to do the opposite. That is, I’m in London and would like to take part in the US #StartupVisa to create my next startup in the USA.

    I am hoping that the immigration reform will pass into law in the USA soon, including a Startup Visa provision which allows UK-based entrepreneurs to establish businesses in the US.

    • I agree – someday soon this should be able to be bidirectional! You should be able to live and create your company in the US, or in London. It’s ridiculous that we can’t get this figured out.

  • I am not sure if “a Visa stapled to the diploma of every college graduate.” is incorporated into the new immigration reform. Plz correct me if I am mistaken.

  • That is just too cool!

  • “a Visa stapled to the diploma of every college graduate” Slippery slope given that colleges seem to be more focused on the economics rather than the education! So now we are just saying it costs X (cost of the degree) to get a Visa, with no real quality metrics to speak of. I should know. I went through a Graduate program in STEM and many of the others in the class has no business being there, but they paid the bill and the school needled them along. In theory this sounds awesome, in practice though there is a lot of work to do for this to be effective! and the CIR does *nothing* to accomplish this.