Penningtons Manches’ leading immigration team has welcomed the announcement by Tech City UK of its Tech Nation Visa Scheme, an evolution of the current Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route to help the digital technology sector to attract and secure world-class talent from outside the EU. 

Based on direct feedback from the digital business community and organisations such as Tech London Advocates (TLA), the Tech Nation Visa Scheme adds four new qualifying criteria to help ensure that the UK continues to maintain its position as a globally competitive digital powerhouse. These are a provision for building UK scale-ups; recognition of ‘exceptional promise’; fast-track application procedure for Northern Powerhouse cities; and recruiting entire overseas teams from outside the EU. 

Commenting on Tech City UK’s proposals, Pat Saini, head of immigration and chair of TLA’s Talent and Immigration Working Group, said: “We welcome Tech City UK’s sharper focus to help digital businesses to secure the talent they need to be globally competitive. Since the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category was launched in April 2014 there have been very few applications for the 200 visas available for the tech sector – this was because the category was limited to ‘world leaders’ who are, by definition, a very narrow group. There was a concern that, while the Exceptional Talent visa was a welcome step, it did not represent a volume solution to the problems facing the sector.”

Full details of the scheme and the qualifying criteria will be announced in November 2015, once the immigration rules have been laid. Also expected in the November immigration rules changes are specific digital tech roles to be added on to the Shortage Occupation List. These are expected to include product managers, data scientists, senior developers and cyber security specialists. 

Pat Saini continued: “On behalf of our clients, we will be very glad to see the roles on the Shortage Occupation List extended as this will make a vital difference to the tech sector’s ability to access the global talent pool and is a welcome sign of the Government’s recognition of the sector’s need to be able to move quickly to stay in the game.” 

Penningtons Manches will provide further advice and information once the Guidance and full criteria has been published, in the meantime further information can be found on Tech City UK’s website.