Britain's Digital Economy in Jeopardy with Tier 2 Visa Restrictions

TIER 2, work permit 01 October 2015

Skilled foreign tech workers may experience difficulties getting access to Britain’s job market once the new restrictions on the tier 2 immigration scheme come into effect. The changes will prevent those workers from coming to Britain by placing restrictions on visas placing Britain’s tech industry in jeopardy. With the digital economy at risk, business owners are urging the British Prime Minister to reconsider the impending changes, considering how they can block much needed skilled labour from entering the country.

The group comprises of more than 200 business owners and investors who mostly depend on the influx of overseas talent to keep their businesses profitable. The decision to tighten tier 2 visa restrictions was triggered when the MAC (Migration Advisory Committee) reviewed the system and proposed changes that can make immigration process difficult to navigate. If the limitations come into effect, UK’s fast paced digital economy which is worth approximately 10% of the GDP, will face a decline that may bring it to its knees.

This statement was made by the co-founder of LastMinute.com, Martha Lane Fox, who also reminded the Premier regarding a statement he made in which he stated that efforts should be made to make the United Kingdom the ‘start-up nation’ of the world. If the tier 2 visa restrictions come into play, that vision may remain a dream for many, to the frustration of UK based tech businesses. Fox also thanked the Prime Minister for his vision while thanking the government for its support for the country’s technological progress.

The visa restrictions will have a particularly harsh effect on small businesses or start ups whose workforce comprises largely of immigration workers. The resulting barriers can bar progress and cripple the economy by suffocating young businesses.

Tech giants such as Google and even the London Stock Exchange have given their support to the cause, with most admitting that their companies can grow quicker if the visa system was easier to navigate.

This is understandable taking into account UK’s notoriously slow recruitment process which can take months. Unable to recruit from home ground, employers are forced to look overseas for skilled workers, complicating the process. Most depend on immigration lawyers to take care of the tier 2 visa process, but even they cannot guarantee that a candidate will not turn to an employer who offers simpler terms. With a dearth of skilled workers, tech companies are left without personnel to fulfil orders and forced to delay business until they have access to the manpower they need to accommodate them.

New rules are also being introduced that will prevent skilled migrants from settling in the country if their income does not meet the minimum threshold. Needless to say, the results will be catastrophic for Britain’s tech industry, especially for scale-up organisations that require access to the world’s top talent in order to remain competitive.

Currently, the MAC is reviewing proposals for further restrictions to the visa system, but also for alterations to the tier 1 entrepreneur visa.

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