By Oshin Shahiean of OTS Solicitors
The tech sector in the UK has had plenty to be concerned about since Britain voted to leave the EU back in June 2016. For an industry which thrives and depends on being able to quickly recruit the most creative, well-educated talent from all over the globe to ensure they can quickly scale-up when opportunities present themselves, the UK’s now imminent departure from the EU presents a serious challenge.
The Financial Times reported last month that the number of EU nationals applying for vacancies in the UK tech sector has fallen sharply.
Despite drives to encourage stem subjects at university, the UK tech industry relies on EU citizens to fill about 180,000 jobs in the sector, according to data from the Recruitment and employment Confederation. The figure represents a fifth of tech jobs in London.
Despite the uncertainty, investor money is still being pumped into the UK tech sector. According to the Mayor of London’s promotional agency London & Partners, venture capitalists have pumped a more than £1.1 billion into London’s technology sector over the past six months, with a total of £1.3 billion going to tech companies across the UK between January and June.
The investment has been four times that of 2013’s investment and beats the levels hit for the same six-month period for the past decade.
The tech industry’s pressing need for talent
Recent research from research from Harvey Nash shows that 65% of CIOs and technology leaders in the UK are suffering from a technology skills shortage. Following Theresa May’s highly-anticipated briefing, outlining the Government’s plan for leaving the EU, TechUK, a body representing over 900 UK-based technology firms and startups told IT Pro that leaving the single market will have a, "bigger impact on tech than the rest of the UK economy”, adding that it's essential the government does everything that it can to secure a "soft landing".
So how can the UK Tech sector hire the overseas talent they need to scale up and meet their growth targets?
Two ways employers and HR directors can recruit the skilled workers they need are:
obtain a UK Sponsor Licence
hire an individual or team who have successfully obtained a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa endorsed by Tech City.
To employ a national from outside the EEA, an employer must obtain a Sponsor Licence. By holding a Sponsor Licence, you can issue Certificates of Sponsorship to talent you wish to bring to the UK to work in your organisation. Prospective employees must have a Certificate of Sponsorship to successfully obtain entry into the UK under a Tier 2 (General) Visa.
A Sponsor Licence holder must comply fully with the responsibilities and obligations set out by the Home Office. If they fail to do so, they may have their licence downgraded from an A to a B rating, suspended or even revoked.
To employ a person from outside the EEA, the Sponsor Licence holder must conduct a Resident Labour Market Test to ensure there are no suitably-qualified or skilled person in the UK who would apply for the position they have available. However, if the job you are recruiting for is contained on the Shortage Occupation List, you may not have to conduct the test.
By instructing an immigration solicitor who is experienced in providing the best advice on Point-Based System visas, you can relax in the knowledge that the application and compliance elements of a Sponsor Licence and Resident Market Labour Test are taken care of by your legal team.
Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa
To apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa, an applicant needs to pass a two-fold application process:
To be endorsed for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa in the tech sector, applicants must meet at least one of the following two mandatory criteria:
- Have a proven track record of innovation in the digital technology sector, as the founder or director of a tech company or an employee working in a new digital field or innovation; or
- Have received outside recognition of their work which has contributed to the advancement of their sector (i.e. mentoring or teaching).
They must also meet two out of four of the following qualifying criteria
- Have made a significant technical, commercial or entrepreneurial contribution to the tech sector as an Entrepreneur, direct or founder of a tech company.
- Be recognised around the world as a leading talent in the digital technology sector.
- Undergone continuous learning / mastery of new digital skills (commercial or technical) throughout your career;
- Demonstrated exceptional ability in the field by making academic contributions through research (e.g. journals or awards).
The applicant can apply under the exceptional promise category if they can prove they are on-track to achieve the required mandatory and qualifying criteria soon.
Tech City UK has the authority to endorse non-EEA national applicants who can prove they are a leader in the tech industry.
Tech City UK can also provide a fast-track route under the Tech Nation Visa Scheme for applicants who meet one of the following four criteria:
- they have a business or technical skill needed to assist UK technology companies in scaling-up their organisations
- they plan to work in or set up a company in one of Tech North’s seven cities: Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland or the surrounding regions.
- they are part of a team of five or more individuals who want to relocate to the UK
- they demonstrate exceptional promise and are on track to become one of the leaders in their particular field
Tech businesses who wish to employ someone entering the UK on the Tech Nation Visa Scheme are not required to have a UK Sponsor Licence as a person who enters the country on a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa can work where he or she wishes.
If the applicant successfully achieves endorsement, the Home Office must consider whether there is any reason for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa to be refused. There is no English language requirement or financial maintenance criteria applicable to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa.
If you wish to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) Visa, OTS Solicitors is considered one of the best immigration law firms in London and can assist you with receiving endorsement and entry clearance.
The UK tech industry is enormously important to the UK economy. Regardless of how Britain extracts itself from the single market, the optimist in me believes that the Government will do all it can to support the sector in securing the talent it needs to continue to grow.
By investigating the options of a UK Sponsor Licence and/or hiring successful applicants from the Tech Nation Visa Scheme, tech employers and HR Directors can access the skills they need to continue on their path of growth, innovation and prosperity.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most dynamic immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our award-winning immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123
For the best expert legal advice and outcome on your UK immigration application, contact OTS immigration solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.
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Posted on: Friday, 04 August, 2017