The future of Britain’s global talent visa – otherwise known as the tech visa – is in doubt after the winding down of Tech Nation. It shouldn’t be.
One of the successes of Britain’s transition out of the European Union has been the professional side of the immigration system. The transition for those seeking ‘settled status’ was by no means perfect and far too many people fell through the cracks, but it was far from the car crash some had predicted. Similarly, anecdotally businesses in tech and fintech continued to say they were surprised that on the whole the visa process to bring in genuinely ‘best and brightest’ talent was easier than they had suspected.
All of that is now somewhat up in the air, with the tech visa scheme run by Tech Nation now facing an uncertain future. One can argue about the merits or demerits of an organisation which was so heavily reliant on government funding, but their work on the scheme seemed to be a thumbs-up for all concerned. Last night, after Tech Nation announced plans to wound down, the Home Office was only able to commit to those already going through the process not being disadvantaged – hardly a ringing endorsement for its success, nor indeed its continuation.
London needs a fresh injection of talent – it was ever thus. Bright ideas bounce around this city – and the City – until they collide with cash and experience and turn into the businesses of the future.
It would be a crying shame if schemes like the global talent visa fall victim to a lack of due care and attention – or worse, are sacrificed on the altar of political expedience thanks to the ongoing and tragic use of small boats in the south east.
Britain almost uniquely has a tendency to chop down its tallest poppies – the ongoing attacks on our university sector are proof of that. But stopping Britain’s thriving tech and fintech sectors attracting the very brightest people in the world to these shores would be economically illiterate and – in this economy – borderline irresponsible. The Home Office must commit to its continuation – now.