Tech businesses struggling to find people with the skills they need could make more use of Tier 1 exceptional visas granted by the Home Office, claims private client law firm Collyer Bristow.
Introduced in 2011, five-year Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visas are available to overseas individuals working in digital technology, science, medicine, engineering and the arts and humanities. Although the number granted to people in the tech sector has increased from 19 to 214 in the last two years, Collyer Bristow says that total number of exceptional talent visas granted by the Home Office across all sectors remains well below the Government’s 2,000 visa limit. In 2017, only 492 were approved overall.
This is not the case with more restrictive Tier 2 visas, for people sponsored by a company and earning over £30,000 a year, which have hit their 2,200 monthly limit every month this year.
James Badcock, Partner at Collyer Bristow, said: “With Tier 2 limits being hit and Exceptional Talent visas being under-used, there will be an increasing skills shortage in sectors which are key to improving the stalling economy. It is too much to hope for major changes in the run up to Brexit, but the new business-savvy Home Secretary should be urgently looking at how the existing system can be tweaked so that highly skilled employees can be recruited from abroad.”