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Exclusive: Proposed UK immigration policies will hurt tech sector

Sam Shead | July 6, 2015
The Migration Advisory Committee is conducting a review into the minimum salary thresholds for the Tier 2 visa route - something which is likely to deprive the UK's tech-driven organisations of vital talent at a time when homegrown training initiatives are falling short.

Skilled worker visa cap hit for first time ever

Last month the BBC revealed that the Home Office had reached its Tier 2 visa cap for the month of June.

There were 1,650 visas available for June but the Home Office stopped granting visas from June 25 onwards. It refused to reveal how many visa applications it received.

Fragomen is warning its clients (mostly technology companies) that the Tier 2 cap is likely to be reached again. "There is no indication that July and subsequent months will be any different," the law firm writes in a client briefing document seen by Techworld.

It's understood at least one of the largest technology companies in the world was unable to bring in the people it wanted to as a result of last month's cap. The firm in question declined to comment on the matter, as did several others.

However, Matt Warren, cofounder of venture capital-backed ecommerce startup Veego.com, acknowledged that he was unable to hire the talent he wanted to as a result of the cap.

"One of our engineers who lives in Ukraine, is a highly experienced ruby on rails developers and has worked remotely for us for the last 18 months," said Warren. "We want him to be physically with the rest of the team, as we have moved to SCRUM development and it's proving to be too hard to do this remotely. We applied for a Tier 2 visa in December. It's been rejected twice since then because of extremely minor issues such as no start date on the screenshot of the advertised job in UK. The third time we passed all their hoops but then got rejected because of the Tier 2 limit being reached in June."

Warren added: "The application process is extremely time consuming and painful, so I have wasted a huge amount of time trying to work this process. Our development speed has suffered now as a result."

Veego.com is based out of Swansea in Wales where there is a lack of talented developers, according to Warren. "I would love to hire a local developer to do this role and we have heavily advertised, but they do not exist. By bringing these highly experienced guys in, we are actually helping the economy, as they help train the next local generation."

The Tier 2 visa cap has been in place for four years but last month was the first time it has been hit. Doctors, nurses and teachers were also locked out of the country, as were accountants, solicitors and management consultants.

No one was expecting the cap to be hit, according to Robinson. "We knew that we were getting closer the monthly total each month but no one could have predicted how suddenly it would be so hugely oversubscribed."

 

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