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The number of overseas applicants seeking UK tech visas is up 45% year on year, with the bulk of submissions coming from individuals with backgrounds in software development, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud.
That is according to figures collated by Tech Nation, the organisation responsible for endorsing the UK tech visa applications on behalf of the Home Office.
Its findings also revealed India and the US as being among the biggest sources of new applicants. Nigeria, Russia, Canada, Australia, China and South Africa were also name-checked as major sources of new applicants for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa during the 2018-19 financial year, with Tech Nation hailing the data as proof of how attractive the UK tech scene is to overseas IT jobseekers.
“The UK tech sector is an incredibly attractive place to work, with its unparalleled community, access to exceptional talent, and significant levels of innovation and investment,” said Matt Jeffs-Watts, head of visas at Tech Nation.
“This view is evidenced by the overwhelming enthusiasm from Tier 1 Exceptional Talent applicants wishing to enter the UK tech sector. It is this level of talent and skill that will help in the UK keeping its position at the forefront of the global digital economy.”
The data marks 2018-2019 out as the fifth consecutive year that the number of applicants is higher than the previous year, with 650 submissions sent in compared to 450 during the 2017-2018 period.
Tech Nation is authorised by the Home Office to endorse up to 200 tech visa applications each year for applicants who demonstrate “exceptional talent or promise” within the field of digital technology.
In instances where the number of high-quality candidates applying for the visa exceeds Tech Nation’s allocation, the Home Office has a backup pot of 1,000 places it can provide access to for the organisation.
During the 2018-19 financial year, Tech Nation confirmed it endorsed around half of the applications it received, and exceeded its yearly allocation by just over 63%.
The publication of the figures coincides with London Tech Week, which has seen the government make a number of pronouncements about the healthy state of the UK’s tech sector, and the work it is doing to ensure it continues to thrive post-Brexit.
Caroline Nokes MP, and minister of state for immigration, echoed these sentiments, and described the technology industry as “vital” to the UK economy.
This is why, she continued, the government is broadening the range of technology visas on offer to applicants in September 2019 to encourage more technology entrepreneurs to setup shop in the UK.
“We announced the Startup and Innovator visa to enhance the UK’s visa offer to leading international talent, and I am determined to see this continue as we leave the EU and introduce a skills-based immigration system,” she added.
“I am spending this year speaking with businesses and communities, including the tech sector, about our plans for a system that focuses not on where someone is from but on the skills and talents they can bring to our country.”
Read more about UK tech skills
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) is joining forces with the Career Colleges Trust to create a qualification in cloud computing that will be offered through further education institutions and universities across the UK from early next year.
- Despite initiatives designed to increase the number of women in tech, progress is slow. But it could be faster with more collaboration, say signatories of the Tech Talent Charter.