The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has announced that the government will double the number of UK visas it offers to non-EU nationals who demonstrate "exceptional talent". This will consist of professionals from various industries, including computer programmers and IT experts.
The decision comes as part of the government's plan to reassure businesses that Britain is open to hiring top global talent. The UK's tech industry has voiced its concerns about a post-Brexit skills shortage. These worries have been raised by many over the last 18 months since the Brexit referendum.
May said: "As we prepare to leave the European Union (EU), I am clear that Britain will remain open for business. That means government doing all it can to secure a strong future for our thriving tech sector and ensure people in all corners of our nation share in the benefits of its success."
She said: "It is absolutely right that this dynamic sector, which makes such an immense contribution to our economic life and to our society, has the full backing of government”. “Helping our world-class entrepreneurs and innovators to succeed is how we lay the foundations for our prosperity and build an economy fit for the future,” she said.
The announcement comes as a response to a report published by the Creative Industries Federation. The report which placed value on the role that international workers play in putting the UK at the forefront of creative industries. It stressed the importance of preserving this post-Brexit.
A statement from the membership organization continued to say that the system for issuing UK visas has “long failed to meet the needs of the creative industries”.
UK Visas for talent: a welcome announcement for business
Amber Rudd, the British Home Secretary, has confirmed that the number of these UK visas will increase from 1,000 to 2,000 each year. She said: “I am delighted that we are able to welcome more talented people from across the world to our country. Increasing the number of visas for these sectors will make sure that we continue to be at the heart of world culture and the forefront of digital and scientific advances.”
The Creative Industries Federation has praised the decision. A spokesperson said it was “encouraging that government recognizes the importance of international talent to the creative industries”.
Alex Depledge, a startup founder, said that the government statement was not enough. “Thank you, but really that’s not going to move the needle. It's words and no action. What business is looking for is action,” she told City AM. “They're not the easiest (UK visas) to apply for and it costs business money,” she said.
Brexit negotiations are ongoing. Immigration was one of the key issues during the Brexit debate in the UK and the country's future immigration policy remains unclear. This move will at least calm the fears of many.