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Government announces changes to immigration rules

The government has announced changes to immigration rules, which will provide two new visas designed to allow skilled talent into the UK

New immigration rules have been confirmed by the government to ensure skilled workers will still be allowed into the UK after Brexit.

The government has announced the creation of two new visa routes for skilled workers to set up businesses in the UK.

One of these visas will be the startup visa route for people who are setting up a business for the first time in the UK, and the other will be the innovator visa route for those with funds to invest in a business.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes, said: “My priority is making sure that talented business people continue to see the UK as an attractive destination to develop their businesses. This will help create more jobs across the country and ensure our economy continues to thrive.”

In 2018, London attracted more technology workers than the rest of Europe, with around 357,900 software developers in the city.

Though the UK and London hope to continue to be a hub for digital talent, as well as startups, nearly a third of tech startups have started to ensure they have a presence in mainland Europe ahead of Brexit.

To ensure the government’s new visas are awarded to those who will be most relevant to industry, applicants through these two new visa routes will be assessed by endorsing bodies and business experts as opposed to the Home Office itself.

Read more about skilled workers

  • The Science and Technology Committee has released a report proposing new rules surrounding the immigration of skilled workers once Brexit has come into force.
  • IT workers are set to receive one of the highest pay rises of all professions in the UK this year as competition for their skills increases.

The Home Office claimed the changes set in motion were designed to ensure employers in the UK can easily access the skills they need. The UK’s decision to leave the EU has caused widespread concerns across the technology industry that the number of skilled technology workers in the UK will begin to fall.

Last year, it was found more than 3,000 eligible visas for those skilled in science, technology, engineer and maths (STEM) were refused due to visa caps.

While the government excluded skilled doctors and nurses from the cap to allow more people skilled in other disciplines spaces, the number of European people choosing to leave the UK is the highest it has been for 10 years.

The Home Office has now announced it will also be extending the Tier 2 General salary exemption to nurses and paramedics, medical radiographers, and STEM secondary school teachers, meaning people in these roles are only required to meet a minimum salary of £20,800 per year as opposed to the usual £30,000.

In late 2018, the Migration Advisory Committee recommended lifting the cap on Tier 2 visas altogether, mainly because if free movement were to end when the UK leaves the European Union, rules surrounding the migration of skilled workers would likely have to cover both those from the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as outside of it.

A government whitepaper later claimed the cap may well be eradicated, and also recommended making it easier for companies to sponsor workers from overseas. The government has been working to develop home-grown talent in the wake of Brexit, as the number of EU nationals choosing to come the UK continues to fall.

To address concerns about possible abuse of the system, Nokes said there will be measures in place to ensure only real investors will be able to benefit from these new visas, as well as changes to the Tier 1 investor visa.

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