Home Business NewsTech News Exceptional talent visas for tech sector up tenfold in just 2 years

Exceptional talent visas for tech sector up tenfold in just 2 years

by LLB Reporter
19th Jun 18 8:01 am

Study finds

The number of exceptional talent visas granted to people in the tech sector by the Home Office has increased by ten times in just two years from 19 to 214, says Collyer Bristow, the leading private client law firm.

Collyer Bristow says the rapid growth in the UK tech sector coupled with a vibrant start up culture, has made the UK an attractive destination for skilled technology workers from across the globe. Some of the largest tech companies in the world have major offices in London including Amazon, Google and Apple.

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas were first introduced in 2011 and are available specifically to talented overseas individuals working in digital technology, science, medicine, engineering and the arts and humanities for 5 years. There are 2,000 made available each year and the applicant can work across any sector in any field, once approved for a visa by the designated competent bodies and the Home Office.

Tier 2 visas are more restrictive and allow people earning over £30,000, coming to work in the UK who have been sponsored by a company in a range of different sectors. However there is a monthly limit of 2,200 of these visas, which has been hit every month for the last 6 months.

Collyer Bristow says that senior tech workers may be applying for Tier 1 exceptional talent visas due to the over subscription of Tier 2 visas, and the added flexibility that an exceptional talent visa offers.

Collyer Bristow adds that the Government fast track scheme for international workers entering the UK digital sector has helped attract talented people to the sector by speeding up the process.

However the total number of exceptional talent visas granted by the Home Office across all sectors remains well below the UK Government’s 2,000 visa limit. The number of visas issued has remained static in the past year, increasing from 490 in 2016 to just 492 in 2017.

Collyer Bristow says that the criteria for workers in some sectors may be too strict, discouraging talented people applying for visas. For example there were only 25 engineering visas granted by the Home Office in 2017, despite a well-publicised skills shortage in the sector. Engineering UK reports that the engineering sector needs 69,000 qualified engineers to enter the UK workforce every year to keep up with demand.

James Badcock, Partner at Collyer Bristow, comments: “Exceptional talent visas have been great in supporting the vibrant tech sector, but across the board are still being woefully underutilised.”

“The UK tech sector is one of the most innovative in the world, and people with the skills are queuing up to come and work here. However the question remains why the fast track system is not being replicated across other sectors.”

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