UK to double tier 1 visas to lure foreign tech talent

Tier 1 visas are set to double in order to increase the migration of tech based talent to the UK. The new immigration plan is a statement of Britain’s aim to remain open to business post-Brexit.

UK tech growth through expanded visa programme
The British government is planning to double the number of visas in the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category in a bid to lure highly skilled foreign workers to the UK.Prime Minister Theresa May revealed that officials were working out the practical details of the proposal to raise the current, annual total of 1,000 visas under the ‘exceptional talent’ route to 2,000 route.

Tech sector migrants from outside EU the target

The main emphasis will be on attracting migrants in digital technology from outside the EU, but will also apply to cutting-edge practitioners in science and the arts.Mrs May also announced a £61 million package of support for the technology sector – including a new training programme and measures to boost the industry in cities outside London, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Birmingham – as she and Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond met with tech firm entrepreneurs in Downing Street.Praising the tech sector’s “immense contribution to our economic life and to our society”, Mrs May said, “Helping our world-class entrepreneurs and innovators to succeed is how we lay the foundations for our prosperity and build an economy fit for the future.“Technology is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy, and we will continue to invest in the best new innovations and ideas, in the brightest and best talent, and in revolutionary digital infrastructure.“And as we prepare to leave the European Union, I am clear that Britain will remain open for business. That means government doing all it can to secure a strong future for our thriving tech sector and ensure people in all corners of our nation share in the benefits of its success.”
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Expansion of London-based Tech City UK nationwide

The package of government financial support comprises a £21 million investment to turn the London-based Tech City UK into a nationwide network; £20 million to encourage public services take advantage of expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence; and a £20 million training programme to enable teenagers to tackle cyber threats.Eileen Burbidge, who chairs Tech City UK, said, “We are delighted to hear that the government wants to increase Tech City UK’s funding for the next four years.“Under the Tech Nation banner, this country that has brought so much innovation to the world and leads in sub-sectors such as fintech, cyber security, artificial intelligence, robotics and life sciences, will build a national network of digital excellence so that the UK will continue to be recognised as one of the best places in the world to start or grow a digital tech business.”Matt Clifford, co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First, added, “We commend the Home Office’s decision to increase the number of Tier 1 exceptional talent visas.“We cannot ignore the fact that our digital and tech economy cannot survive on home-grown talent alone and is substantially boosted by exceptional foreign individuals who have chosen to build their businesses in the UK.“If London is to continue being the European hub for tech, and if it is to grow to rival other internationally significant tech centres, we must ensure the UK becomes an increasingly welcoming hub for EU and non-EU nationals alike.”

SME businesses welcome tech expansion

Sherry Coutu, chair of Founders4Schools and the Scaleup Institute and who was recently voted the most influential woman in UK technology by Computer Weekly, said, “The digital tech sector is a key component of the UK’s competitive advantage and these new measures are welcome news for innovative small and medium-sized businesses and third-sector organisations by helping to create the conditions in which they can scale up.”For related news and features, visit our Enterprise section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  

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