UK visa system for executive talent questioned

28 Jun 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK visa system has been accused of failing executive talent and British businesses by a several successful entrepreneurs.

A number of the changes brought in to the system recently were designed to encourage high net worth individuals to move to Britain and invest in businesses and start-ups. However, it has been suggested that while the changes work well for foreign investors, existing British businesses are being held back by UK visa regulations.

Nick Halstead, Reading-based founder of Datasift, told the Financial Times that he very nearly lost a developer that was crucial for his company's expansion into Asia. The developer was born in Japan and problems arose over a mix-up with his existing UK work permit with King's College.

An emergency hearing for the visa application had to be arranged but it was only by chance that the matter was resolved because the deputy director of the Home Office happened to be in the town that day and had the power to overrule local stewards who were attempting to ban the developer.

Mr Halstead added that even when the work permit was organised he had to increase the employee's salary to €70,000 to avoid having to advertise the position for 12 weeks in order to meet UK immigration law.

The businessman commented on the matter to the paper: "It started getting quite farcical. Basically they broke their own rules to allow it to happen."

The Home Office disputed any problems with the service, stating that the country provides an "excellent visa service", adding that there has been a "five per cent increase in visas issued for skilled individuals under Tier 2 in the year to March 2013".

Despite this, many businesses remain frustrated by the current system and have claimed that it hampers their access to the overseas talent many companies depend on.