A London startup that aims to help immigrants navigate what are often complex visa application procedures has hailed a new tech team visa as “revolutionary”.
Migreat, which offers free visa and immigration help, believes the “team application” element that is being introduced to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa later this year is a “real progressive step”.
The team application will allow UK technology companies to hire up to five people outside the EU at once.
Some of the UK’s most promising technology companies are currently being held back because they can’t hire people with the skills they need, according to the Google-backed Scale-up Institute.
Josephine Goube, co-managing director at Migreat, told Business Insider: “Overall, it looks like a positive rebranding of the Exceptional Talent visa scheme that existed previously and failed to attract many applicants.
“The team application is revolutionary: I have never seen a visa process being done as a group. It is a real progressive step from the government acknowledging that sometimes technology is the result of a group effort. As such, the scheme is a real gift for the tech industry that most often involved team work.”
Details on how the new team tech visa application process will work in practice are yet to be revealed but Goube said that in order for it to be a success, the team visas must be processed quickly and efficiently.
“Processing times is one thing that most foreigners dread and in technology things need to move fast,” said Goube. “If the process lasts more than a month, it is not worth it.”
Goube added: “For a tech focused initiative, it is interesting to see that all the process is done by post and not over email or digital technologies at first.”
Startups and trade bodies have welcomed the changes to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa but they’re more concerned about the proposed changes for the Tier 2 General visa, which many UK tech companies also use.
The Home Office has tasked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a group of independent economists, with exploring how to make it even harder for non-EU nationals to enter the UK under the Tier 2 visa.
Specifically, the MAC is looking at raising the salary threshold, restricting which roles are eligible, limiting the amount of time a role can be classed as in shortage, introducing a skills levy, and restricting the rights of dependents.
The MAC is due to submit its report to the Home Office in mid-December.
Under the Tier 2 scheme, there are 20,700 visas available a year to employers who want to recruit a non-EU skilled worker.
Guy Levin, executive director of startup campaign group Coadec added: “It’s important to remember that the Tier 1 route is tiny compared to Tier 2, which is under review at the moment and likely to be squeezed further. So while this is a positive step today, the bigger decision is yet to come.”
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