Home Office Launches ‘Start-Up’ Visa Programme

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The move aims to attract more entrepreneurs, following criticism of immigration restrictions from the UK’s tech industry

The UK has launched a new “start-up” visa for entrepreneurs, in response to criticism from the tech sector over the effects of its restrictive immigration policies.

Launched during London Tech Week, the new visas are to become available from spring of next year and replace a system designed exclusively for graduates.

They are designed to widen the applicant pool of entrepreneurs and make the visa process “faster and smoother” for business founders coming to the UK.

The visas require applicants to have an endorsement from a university or approved business sponsor, such as an accelerator.

‘Serious concerns’

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the move was an acknowledgement that the UK needs to “do more” to attract businesses.

“This will help to ensure we continue to attract the best global talent and maintain the UK’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs,” he said.

Tech industry body techUK called the move “sensible”, but said the new visas fail to address business’ concerns about “Tier 2” visas for professionals.

“Startups are only one part of UK tech,” said techUK chief executive Antony Walker. “For many established mid-tier and larger tech companies, there remain serious concerns around Tier 2 visas.”

He cited figures obtained by the Campaign for Science and Engineering that found the Home Office rejected 1,226 visa applications for workers with job offers between December of last year to March of this year, due to restrictions on Tier 2 visas, and called the limitations “a handbrake on economic growth”.

The tech sector was one of the worst affected by restrictions after medicine, which saw 2,360 applications from doctors rejected in the same period.

The Home Office said more details would be announced “in due course”.

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