New Visa Rules Speed Non-EU Tech Recruitment

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The visa scheme will allow British IT companies to recruit entire teams from outside the EU

Tech City UK, the government-backed organisation founded to foster tech start-up activity in the UK, has launched a visa scheme that aims to attract IT talent from outside the EU into Britain.

The new Tech Nation Visa Scheme broadens IT-oriented visa rules introduced two years ago, with provisions aimed at helping companies expand, attracting specific skills, backing the development of IT businesses in the North of England, and recruiting entire teams with a proven track record.

Parliament Government London © anshar Shutterstock 2012

It marks a departure from the position of the previous Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, which placed an emphasis upon the development of home-grown skills. As part of that line the previous government ended the Post-Study Work Visa scheme, which had allowed companies to recruit non-EU individuals studying in the UK.

The revision adds four new qualifying criteria. Individuals can qualify if their skills, such as specific technical knowledge, would help a company grow in scale, for instance preparing for a market flotation or launching a product internationally.

“Based on the feedback from the tech community, the new Tech Nation Visa Scheme will prove to be a vital tool for companies that want to secure the high caliber people they need to quickly scale their product, service and operations,” said Tech City UK chief executive Gerard Grech in a statement.

Tech North recruitment

A second provision allows individuals who show “exceptional promise” to qualify, aiming to help companies to recruit staff for specific talent gaps.

Individuals can now have their application fast-tracked for IT employment in Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland, the seven cities under the remit of Tech North, a Tech City unit focused on the region. Tech North will now offer a visa support service similar to that offered by the broader organisation.

Finally, beginning on 12 November, groups of up to five may apply at once, under a provision aiming to attract teams that have a proven track record of collaboration.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey MP said the measures were aimed at supporting the UK’s “leadership” position in the digital economy.

“This new Visa Scheme will support fast growth digital businesses in their quest to bring the best and brightest to British shores as we continue to stake our claim as a Tech Nation on the global stage,” he stated.

The initial visa scheme received only 19 applications and approved 17, according to government figures.

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