How will new Tech Visa and Global Mobilty Visa help the UK economy and fintechs?
In a little mentioned part of this week’s Budget speech, the Chancellor launched two new UK working visa schemes to attract and retain top tech industry talent.
Speaking to MP’s in Wednesday’s Budget, Rishi Sunak announced plans to introduce “fast track” working visa applications for migrants with a job offer from UK scale-up, together with a new “Global Business Mobility” visa.
Potential recruits will not need to obtain a third-party endorsement or be backed by a sponsor organisation in a major simplification of the current tight Immigration Rules.
The significant shift in recent immigration policy follows a review led by former Worldpay boss Ron Kalifa, which urged the government to make the highly skilled migration system more tech-friendly.
The government has listened to lobbying from the tech industry bosses after the Brexit referendum threatened the loss of top talent.
Overseas migrant workers represent around 42% of UK fintech employees, of which EU workers form 28% of the talent pool.
The industry welcomed the new visa schemes as a “golden opportunity” for fintechs and startups more widely.
“The new visa presents a golden opportunity for the UK to continue to trailblaze in fintech – encouraging entrepreneurialism, investment and growth,” Rafa Plantier, head of UK and Ireland at open banking platform Tink said.
But what will the scheme actually mean for startups on the ground?
The revamped visa system comes at an already difficult time for small businesses dealing with immigration changes due to Brexit.
“As UK employers prepare for the period beyond Covid-19 and Brexit, they will be receptive to a visa system that enables them to access the talent and experience that they need,” Joanne Hennessy, immigration law expert at Pinsent Masons said.
Access to top talent may help in reducing costs and administration in the long run compared to the limited options currently available, PwC’s immigration partner Lindsey Barras added.
“Highly skilled individuals will be able to undertake short-term contracts, or work for a range of businesses throughout their stay in the UK, without the need for a specific sponsor.”
A review of the Innovator visa, which allows experienced business people to set up companies with £50,000 investment, has been welcomed by founders.
“The Innovator visa is currently unfit for purpose, needing fundamental reforms to align incentives so the pricing is clear and more high-quality organisations become endorsing bodies,” Philip Salter, founder of The Entrepreneurs Network told City AM.
“As our Job Creators report has found, prior to Brexit 49 per cent of the fastest growing businesses in the UK had at least one foreign-born founder. If we are to continue this record, we need to ensure that the visa process is as fast and unbureaucratic as possible.”
Meanwhile, the new visa scheme allowing some Hong Kong residents the chance to live in the UK is live and ab estimated 300,000 Hongkongers are expected to take advantage of the programme. British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong and their dependents can take advantage of a new streamlined route to permanent residency and full citizenship in the UK.
Prime central London property is already being snapped up by Hong Kong buyers fuelling a further rise in house prices despite a 10% fall in GDP last year.
From Monday, travellers will need to carry a form before leaving the country stating that their trip is “permitted” under “stay-at-home” restrictions.
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