Ministers discuss new immigration system with tech sector

The UK’s Immigration Minister and the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries met with with tech entrepreneurs and industry professionals yesterday to discuss how the country’s new immigration system can support the growing tech sector.

The meeting comes a few weeks after the Home Office launched new Start-up and Innovator visas to help attract leading international talent to the UK. Leaving the EU means the UK has an opportunity to reshape its immigration system and the Home Office is wanting to ensure the plans work for business and communities across the UK.

“We have the most successful tech sector in Europe and our capital is home to thousands of start-ups and I want to make sure that Britain remains a top destination for tech talent,” said Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes.

“It’s why our new immigration system will balance delivering on the referendum result and ending free movement with attracting skilled people from around the world so that our economy continues to prosper.”

The roundtable discussion, held at the Barbican Centre in partnership with Tech Nation, is part of this year-long engagement programme. Over 90 similar such events have been held across the UK so far.

“The UK continues to attract talent from all around the world,” explained Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries. “This is thanks to our world-leading academic institutions, strong access to finance and long-standing reputation for innovation.

“Making sure we have the talent and skills so the tech sector can continue its incredible growth, is a priority of our modern Industrial Strategy.”

The government recently announced new Start-up and Innovator visas to enhance the UK’s visa offering to international talent. The Start-up visa route is open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route is for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.

Matt Jeffs-Watts, Head of Visas at Tech Nation, commented: “The view from today’s meeting was that the UK tech sector is an incredibly attractive place to work with its unparalleled connectivity, access to exceptional talent, and significant levels of innovation and investment.

“It is evidenced by the overwhelming enthusiasm from Tier 1 Exceptional Talent applicants wishing to enter the UK tech sector. It is this level of talent and skill that will help the UK maintain its position at the forefront of the global digital economy.”

The government’s future immigration proposals are designed to ensure businesses can attract the talent they need, rather than being based on where someone comes from. The annual cap on the number of visas issued for skilled workers will be removed, schemes such as the resident labour market test will be abolished and there will be a wider skills threshold to include people with qualifications equivalent of A-levels.

The new immigration and borders system will be implemented in a phased approach from 2021.

Article published 14th June 2019