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London technology experts launch Home Office immigration workshop

Caroline Baldwin

Tech London Advocates (TLA) has launched a series of workshops that will allow startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to immigration officials and experts.

The private sector-led coalition of technology experts has launched the programme in association with the Home Office and Tech City. 

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The first event in the series, Home Office Hours, will be held on 14 May at Google Campus to provide information specifically on tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa, the criteria for endorsement and the application process.

The event will also provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to access free one-on-one sessions with officials and experts from Penningtons law firm.

Technology startup companies are finding it increasingly difficult to hire employees from outside the UK due to the lengthy and complicated visa application process.

TLA has been working with the Home Office for the last couple of months to facilitate growth across the UK technology community and open up the restrictive immigration laws.

“Historically, it has been challenging for digital entrepreneurs to hire great talent from overseas,” said Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK. 

“Last summer, we began working with the Home Office to resolve the issue, and with colleagues from across the UK’s tech community, we developed the criteria against which applicants to the tier 1 visa are now measured. Tech City UK is the Visa’s Designated Competent Body, and it is our aim to make Britain’s tech sector a magnet for the best and brightest digital talent.”

In March, the government made a series of changes to the immigration rules that it hoped would help UK firms employ skilled workers from overseas.

The Home Office has expanded its exceptional talent visa to provide specific routes for some international digital technologists. It has also asked Tech City UK to endorse applicants deemed highly skilled.

Through the endorsement, the Home Office claimed the top innovators and professionals will be able to come to the UK without a sponsoring employer.

Leslie Sarma, associate at Penningtons and immigration working group lead for TLA welcomed the change to the exceptional talent visa believing it would help grow the UK technology sector. But she said the Tech City endorsements are limited in number 200.

"For this reason, we believe there is still work to be done in assisting rapid growth startups looking to staff up quickly, as well as established tech sector companies requiring volume hiring on a project by project basis," said Sarma.


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