A UK visa for tech immigrants has been expanded

Gerard Grech, Tech City UK CEOTech City UKTech City UK CEO Gerard Grech.

Tech City UK has been given permission to issue 50 more visas for technology workers each year, The Daily Telegraph reports.

The government-funded agency can now endorse 250 skilled technology workers from outside the EU annually under the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, up from 200 last year.

Many startups struggle to find people in the UK or Europe with the skills they need. Last March, a survey from Silicon Valley Bank found that 57% of UK tech execs see access to talent as their most important public policy issue.

Tech City UK is one of several organisations that the Home Office has given endorsement powers to. Others include Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Royal Society. Once a visa applicant has been endorsed, they must then been approved by the Home Office.

Tech City UK initially struggled to get overseas tech workers to apply for the so-called “Tech Nation” visa so it relaxed the rules somewhat. Now it is struggling to deal with the demand, according to The Telegraph.

The Home Office has granted over 170 visas to tech workers for the current financial year, which ends on April 6, and Tech City UK was concerned the quota of 200 will be hit in the coming weeks.

“We are delighted that the Home Office has been able to respond to concerns over how the UK would continue to attract the skills its tech sector needs by allowing Tech City UK to endorse more visas to exceptionally talented individuals,” Grech told The Telegraph.

“The UK must demonstrate that it is open for business to the brightest and best around the world.”

Grech reportedly plans to ask the Home Office to expand its visa allocation again for the next fiscal year.

Two non-EU citizens that have been endorsed by Tech City UK for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa are Nigerian Antonia Anni, an entrepreneur with her own business who also works as a community manager for Codecademy, and Armenian David Zokhrabyan, the CEO and cofounder of ArtHome.London.

Zokhrabyan told Business Insider last January: “I put a lot of effort in preparing the case and did it all by myself. You need to have two strong recommendation letters from industry leaders and a lot of documents in support of your claim to be an exceptional talent.”

Technology workers from outside the EU can also enter the UK under the Tier 2 visa. There are 20,700 visas available a year to employers who want to recruit a non-EU skilled worker. Professionals from other industries, including medicine and accountancy, can also apply.

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