The UK Home Office has announced that, starting 6 April 2014, it will open up a new visa route for the technology sector to reflect London’s growing importance as a hub for technology industries. Tech City UK is a government-backed initiative that promotes technology companies across the UK. This new visa route will allow recognized technology professionals to enter the UK under a Tier 1 (exceptional talent) route of the UK Points Based System.
1,000 Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visas are currently available each year to “exceptionally talented individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering and the arts”. Participants must be endorsed by The Royal Society, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, or The Arts Council.
An applicant must be internationally recognised at the highest level as a world leader in his or her particular field or must demonstrate “exceptional promise” such that he or she is likely to become a world leader in his or her field.
So far, these visas have been vastly unused. When they have been used, it has been for academics and the performing arts. Technology experts will now join this small group, and eligible individuals will be able to be endorsed by Tech City UK. The Home Office clearly intends that these visa holders will work in technology start-ups in London.
The Home Office will allocate 200 endorsements each year to Tech City UK, from 6 April 2014 to 5 April 2015. This is an exciting development that shows that the UK government recognises the growth potential of the technology and digital sector, and London has proved its remarkable strength as a magnet for technology entrepreneurs and international start-up talent in programming and other fields. This new move on the part of the UK government should be celebrated and pushed to attract more talent to the UK.