The UK government has given the green light to 50 more immigration visas for foreign technology workers, assuaging concerns that Britain’s exit from the European Union will restrict access to workers with talent.
Tech City UK, the government organization that processes applications for the special visa, has now been okayed to approve 250 visas this year, an increase from the 200 it was originally assigned. The decision follows a rise in demand for the visas following last June’s Brexit vote.
Established by David Cameron’s government in 2010, Tech City UK’s objective has been to prop up the growing tech industry in the UK, with the Tech Nation visa being introduced in 2014 in response to a shortage of skilled coders among British startups.
According to Gerard Grech, chief executive at Tech City UK, restrictions on EU freedom of movement in the future will make the special visas more important. He commented to The Telegraph:
We are delighted that the Home Office has been able to respond to concerns over how the UK would continue to attract the skills its tech sector needs by allowing Tech City UK to endorse more visas to exceptionally talented individuals. The UK must demonstrate that it is open for business to the brightest and best around the world.
The Tech Nation visa becomes one of six “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent” visas, allocated by the government for technology, science, engineering, humanities, medicine, and the arts.
The government announcement comes in on the very same day that Simon Black, chief executive of FinTech firm PPRO Group, warned that Brexit is already inducing an “exodus” of FinTech companies from the UK.
Russ Shaw, from Tech London Advocates, spoke optimistically about the government’s decision to grant further tech visas, saying that it exhibits a willingness to address the “skills gap” in the technology industry. He added:
We must now build on the Tech Nation programme to reform visas across the board. Today’s announcement is an opportunity for the government to pursue a new, business-friendly immigration policy.