In this article, we’ll be exploring how a digital skills shortage in Britain coupled with the new points-based immigration system is encouraging skilled workers to move to the UK…
Currently, the UK is experiencing a digital skills shortage, and as the economy is becoming more digital, the demand for technological expertise will only intensify. There’s no denying that migrants have been at the forefront of technological advancements in the UK, from Covid vaccines to AI breakthroughs. It, therefore, comes as no surprise to us that several new visa channels have opened, as part of the new points-based immigration system, to attract digital expertise from across the world.
Some of these new visa routes can lead to indefinite leave to remain in the UK which can be attractive to many people searching for work in Britain. To find out more about what the tech sector in the UK is offering migrants, we’ll be taking a look at some of the different visa routes…
The Digital Skills Shortage
In an increasingly digital age, it is important for the UK market to keep up to date with new technological developments. As a result, tech employment has increased in recent years with Tech Nation, the entity responsible for processing some of the tech-related visa applications, citing a 44 % increase in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa applications in 2019.
The UK government has previously stated its desire to become a “science and technology superpower” however recent reports have shown there is a scarcity of technological capabilities in Britain. According to a CBI report from 2019, two-thirds of tech-related jobs go unfilled in the UK. The same report showed that only a third of businesses believe they will be able to obtain the digital skills they require in the next 2-5 years. These findings show that migration is significant in helping provide global digital expertise and settle the need for skilled workers.
The Global Talent Visa
The introduction of the new points-based immigration system in the UK opened new doors for skilled tech workers. An example of this was the modifications made to the ‘Global Talent Visa’, which replaced the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. These modifications made it easier for applicants to apply from STEM and tech backgrounds. These changes to the visa route will assist the UK’s digital sector to continue to attract digital expertise from across the world.
With a Global Talent visa, you can work in the UK if you are a leader or potential leader in digital technology, for example in:
- financial technology
- artificial intelligence
- cyber security
With a Global Talent visa, you can:
- choose how long your visa is for (up to 5 years)
- bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’ (if they’re eligible
- change or stop doing your job without telling the Home Office
- be an employee, self-employed and a director of a company
travel abroad and return to the UK)
In addition to this, you do not need a job offer to get the Global Talent visa.
Your background can be either:
- business (for example you have commercial, investment or digital product expertise in a technology company that creates software, hardware or processes data)
- technical (for example, you’re an engineer or developer)
If you want to stay longer in the UK, you can renew your visa as many times as you like. However, to do this, you’ll have to meet the eligibility criteria for extending your stay. You can also apply to settle permanently in the UK also known as – indefinite leave to remain. You can do this after 3 years if you’re applying as a leader or 5 years if you’re applying as a potential leader.
To get a Global Talent visa you need to apply for an ‘endorsement’, as well as for the visa itself. The endorsement is to prove you are a leader or potential leader in your field. The Home Office will send your application to be reviewed by Tech Nation. You will usually get a decision about your endorsement within 5 to 8 weeks. If your application is considered to be ‘fast track’, you’ll get a decision in 3 weeks.
If you’re not eligible for a Global Talent visa, there are other ways to work in the UK for example, a Skilled work visa.
It costs £608 to apply. If you’re applying based on an endorsement, you’ll pay the £608 in two parts, £456 when you apply for the endorsement and £152 when you apply for the visa itself.
If you’re applying based on an eligible award, you’ll pay the full £608 when you apply for the visa. If you’re including your partner or children in your application, they’ll each need to pay £608.
Technology and Migration
Due to the UK’s digital skills shortage coupled with the surge in technological developments, the demand for digital expertise has only intensified. Recent statistics have found that migrants have been at the forefront of many recent technological advancements. In 2019, the State of European tech report found that over half of the founders of tech firms in the UK are immigrants.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise to us that several new visa routes have opened, as part of the new points-based immigration system, to assist the UK’s digital sector to continue to attract digital expertise from across the world.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult an immigration lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on moving to the UK. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.