November 24, 2020

UK tech visa applications hit record high despite Covid-19

The number of applications for the UK’s Tech Nation visa rose to its highest level on record last month as the thriving sector shrugged off the impact of coronavirus.

Applications for the visa, which grants employees and founders in the tech sector the right to work in the UK for up to five years, hit a record-breaking 122 in September.

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Across the third quarter numbers were up 42 per cent on the previous three months and eight per cent compared to the same period last year.

“The data flies in the face of claims that remote working and Covid-19 will deter people coming to the UK to work,” said Stephen Kelly, chair of Tech Nation.

“Quite the contrary. In an environment where talented entrepreneurs are facing potential obstacles in moving to the US, the UK is a natural home.”

The majority of applicants come from India, Russia and the US, while software development, cloud computing and AI are the most popular work areas.

Roughly a quarter of all successful visa applications come from founders.

Kelly said the ability to attract talent from abroad was critical for the UK’s economic recovery after Brexit.

Last year more than £10bn of investment was pumped into UK tech companies with the creation of almost 3m jobs.

“As countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands become more competitive tech ecosystems, it’s essential international entrepreneurs feel welcome,” Kelly said.

Read more: EU regulators draw up ‘hit list’ of tech giants to share data with smaller rivals

“In addition to low administrative burdens, we need to continue to have support structures in place for a soft landing when talent arrives as well as favourable business environments.

“But finally, as we consider the long-term effects of Covid-19 and as borders collapse as we move to the cloud, the UK needs to carefully consider the future of the digital nomad.”

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