The UK Government has set out its globally focused post-Brexit immigration policy. Pat Saini, the firm’s head of immigration and Chair of Tech London Advocates immigration working group, looks at the impact on the tech sector.
The UK is a global leader in technology and has one of the world’s largest technology ecosystems built around a strong entrepreneurial culture. Digital jobs and skills are underpinning the growth of the UK's thriving tech sector, which in turn is creating high-productivity jobs at scale. While the sector continues to play its role in upskilling, a fit for purpose immigration policy is crucial to the future of tech in the UK.
What is clearly absent from the policy document is the Government’s lack of innovative thinking around entrepreneurship and attracting global entrepreneurs to the UK. Last year, what was commonly referred to as a ‘broken’ visa category – the entrepreneur visa –was closed and replaced by the Start-up and Innovator visa categories. The tech sector advocated for the Start-up visa and its leaders were encouraged to see that universities and other approved bodies were able to endorse young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, allowing those ideas to flourish in the UK. Unfortunately, the Innovator visa requires experienced, established global entrepreneurs to apply for endorsement through an endorsing body, many of which run accelerator programmes and/or take equity in the businesses they endorse. This means that the route continues to fail to attract global entrepreneurs and thought leaders to the UK. It is critical that the Government reviews its policy on attracting experienced tech entrepreneurs who are needed to build the post- Brexit economy.
The lowering of the salary threshold, the suspension of the cap and the scrapping of the Resident Labour Market test are welcome steps. The tech sector will continue to gather evidence from the tech sector and lobby for: