The UK government has approved an additional 50 immigration visas for foreign technology workers, amid concern that Britain’s exit from the European Union will restrict access to talented staff.
Tech City UK, the government organisation that processes applications for the special visa, will now be allowed to approve 250 visas this year, up from the 200 it was originally allocated.
The decision comes after a surge in demand for the visas following last June’s Brexit vote.
Tech City UK was created by David Cameron’s government in 2010 to support Britain’s growing tech industry, with the Tech Nation visa introduced in 2014 to address a shortage of skilled coders among British startups.
Gerard Grech, chief executive at Tech City UK, said future curbs on EU freedom of movement will make the special visas more important.
“We are delighted that the Home Office has been able to respond to concerns over how the UK would continue to attract the skills its tech sector needs by allowing Tech City UK to endorse more visas to exceptionally talented individuals,” he told The Telegraph.
“The UK must demonstrate that it is open for business to the brightest and best around the world.”
The Tech Nation visa is one of six “Tier 1 Exceptional Talent” visas, allocated by the government for technology, science, engineering, humanities, medicine, and the arts.
The government announcement came the same day as Simon Black, chief executive of FinTech firm PPRO Group, warned that Brexit is already prompting an “exodus” of FinTech companies from the UK.
Russ Shaw, from Tech London Advocates, praised the government’s decision to grant further tech visas, which he said shows a willingness to address the “skills gap” in the technology industry.
“We must now build on the Tech Nation programme to reform visas across the board,” he added. “Today’s announcement is an opportunity for the government to pursue a new, business-friendly immigration policy.”