UK entrepreneurs lobby Prime Minister over skilled immigration crackdown

As the government’s Migration Advisory Committee is currently reviewing the Tier 2 visa system, which is the main visa route for skilled workers from outside the European Economic Area with the findings expected to be reported back to the government in mid-December and publish its recommendations in January.

As it stands immigrants have to have a degree level qualification, they have to be sponsored by an accredited company, the company has to reach a salary threshold and the job has to be advertised for 28 days in the UK first. Proposals include restricting the roles to skills shortages and introducing a skills levy for employers who hire from outside the European Economic Area.

The letter, which was organised by The Coalition for a Digital Economy and signed by the likes of Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, founder of and Digital Inclusion Champion and the founders of Citymapper, DeepMind, SwiftKey and Unruly, argued that Britain has become a global tech hub thanks to the global nature of employment in the UK.

It said: “The UK has become a global tech hub thanks in large part to startup founders, investors and employees from across the globe, including many of us who were not born in Britain but choose to invest our time and talents here.

“Further restrictions on skilled migration could restrict the growth of our businesses and hurt UK’s digital economy.”

Guy Levin, executive director of Coadec, said: “The government has a strong record supporting digital entrepreneurship, so it doesn’t make sense that are considering changes that would make it tougher for startups and scale-ups to thrive.

“Any changes to the immigration system must make it easier, not harder, for digital entrepreneurs to come to the UK to start their business, and for growing startups to hire top international talent.”