Some of the UK’s top digital entrepreneurs have written to the Prime Minister, calling on him not to make it harder for companies to recruit skilled staff from abroad.
The open letter from the Coalition for a Digital Economy to David Cameron is signed by more than 230 people, including Lastminute.com founder Baroness Martha Lane Fox and the founders of Swiftkey and Citymapper.
They argue that imposing tougher restrictions on the Tier 2 visa system will put the UK’s current position as a global tech hub at risk. They said that its current strong status is partly thanks to the work of people who were not born in Britain, but have used their talents for the good of the UK economy.
The Migration Advisory Committee is currently examining the Tier 2 system, which is used to bring skilled workers from outside the EU into Britain. It is considering whether to impose further restrictions on the visa route, including a levy on companies recruiting skilled staff from abroad.
Currently, to secure a Tier 2 visa, applicants must be educated to degree level, have sponsorship from a company and can only apply for a job that has already been advertised in the UK for 28 days.
The Coalition for a Digital Economy says in its open letter: “Further restrictions on skilled migration could restrict the growth of our businesses and hurt UK’s digital economy.”
Although the Tier 2 visa system is currently under scrutiny, the Government has introduced a new ‘tech nation’ visa programme. The scheme, put together by Tech City UK, will fast track visa applications from staff needed by fast growing companies and gives priority to companies in the Northern Powerhouses cities of Newcastle, Sheffield, Sunderland, Hull, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool which are trying to recruit skilled overseas workers.