UK visa system 'killing' tech startup culture

21 Oct 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Troubles with accessing UK visas could be 'killing' the startup culture in British tech companies, according to a recent article in the Guardian.

Accessing UK visas can take time and the changes that have been brought in by the current government to restrict who is able to access work permits have made things even more complicated.

While this has proved to be an issue for businesses across the spectrum looking to access skilled workers from overseas, entrepreneurs, especially those in the technology sector, are reportedly being particularly hard hit due to the fast pace at which their sector moves.

One startup company that spoke to the paper, Spleat, noted that visas were certainly an issue in getting things going.

Spleat is a mobile payment app for the hospitality industry and was launched in London by Michelle Songy and Charlotte Kohlman, two women originally from the US. Songy told the Guardian: “It's not impossible to get a visa but it takes time … When you have investment and see how quickly the industry moves, you don't want the visa holding you back.

“If I were to do it again, I'd read up on the visa sooner and learn what I was getting in to.”

She added: “My advice: hire a lawyer. It's expensive, but worth it in the end.”

The current government imposed restrictions on the number of UK work permits that can be issued each year. They have also put limits on the salaries and incomes that applicants must have in order to access the work permits.

While there are also visa categories for entrepreneurs, they can be problematic for younger people because they are unable to prove the business acumen upon which they are claiming the visa.

Given the economic value of entrepreneurs to the UK, with one in seven UK companies started by migrants, many are calling for the government to reconsider their approach to work permits and ease the route of valuable individuals into the British business market.