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New UK startup visa for foreign tech entrepreneurs

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A new, UK startup visa will be launched in Spring 2019, the Home Office has announced. The government wants to make more UK visas available to foreign tech entrepreneurs, enabling them to set up businesses in Britain.

Sanwar Ali comment:

This is a welcome addition.   The current Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa is difficult to obtain.  Most people probably do not have £200,000 to invest in a business in the UK.  The new UK Startup Visa should make entry to the UK for business people much easier.  Another popular UK Visa scheme the Tier 2 Visa category is not meant for business owners, and the employer needs to have a Tier 2 Visa sponsor who is willing to go through the difficult and bureaucratic process of obtaining a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and Tier 2 Visa.  The good news is that since August 2018 the Restricted CoS points requirement has gone down to 21 points so many more people can gain entry to the UK on a Tier 2 Visa.

Following recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and feedback from the tech sector, the government looks set to press ahead with the startup visa as a replacement for the scrapped graduate visa scheme. To qualify for the new visa, applicants will require an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsors.

Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “The UK can be proud that we are a leading nation when it comes to tech and innovation, but we want to do more to attract businesses to the UK and our migration system plays a key part in that.”

Mr Javid expressed his delight when announcing the new visa exclusively for foreign nationals wanting to launch a business in Britain. The Home Secretary highlighted that the startup visa would ensure that the UK continues to attract the best global talent, while cementing the country’s place as a world-leading destination for entrepreneurs.

Tackling Britain’s skills shortages

The Home Office’s announcement of the new, UK startup visa comes hot on the heels of efforts to widen the number of visas made available to foreign innovators and entrepreneurs. Last year the government doubled the number of Tier 1 ‘exceptional talent’ visas to 2,000, in a bid to attract further foreign talent and ease Britain’s skill shortages.

However, these are difficult to obtain and cover applicants across science, technology, engineering and medical (STEM) occupations, plus digital technology, the arts and fashion.

Meanwhile, according to data compiled by the group, Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Home Office apparently refused 1,226 Tier 2 visa applications made by IT and tech professionals between December 2017 and March 2018.

However, the government has since lifted the Tier 2 visa cap for doctors and nurses, which should free up more Tier 2 places for skilled foreign workers in IT and tech professions. The Home Office announced Tier 2 visa cap exemptions for doctors and nurses in an effort to ease crippling skills shortages across the NHS.

UK Startup visas a ‘sensible’ move

Anthony Walker, the deputy CEO of technology industry trade body, TechUK, said: “The new startup visas are a sensible move to encourage those with good ideas to come to the UK. However, startups are only one part of UK tech. For many established mid-tier and larger tech companies, there remain serious concerns around Tier 2 visas.”

“We understand that approximately 1,000 tech workers with job offers were refused visas between December 2017 and March 2018. This is a handbrake on economic growth and needs to be urgently addressed,” Walker added.

Meanwhile, IT Pro has contacted the Home Office to ask how many startup visas will be made available. However, no further details have been released. An official Home Office statement said: “The expanded route will launch in Spring 2019, further details will be announced in due course.”

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