The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) has launched a campaign to ensure UK tech firms can hire the most talented technologists from around the world.
The non-profit organisation, headed by former government advisor Guy Levin, is asking startups and those in the UK tech sector to fill out an online survey and comment on how proposed changes to the "Tier 2" visa for skilled migrants outside the EU could impact their businesses.
The "Save Skilled Migration" campaign comes after Techworld revealed the government refused 1,300 visa applications to skilled workers outside the EU.
“We believe this could have a major impact on digital startups, who rely on talent from around the world, including outside the EU,” Coadec said on its website. “We need your help to demonstrate why this would be damaging for UK startups and to help #SaveSkilledMigration.”
The prime minister has tasked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) with carrying out a review into the Tier 2 visa system. These are visas for skilled nationals from outside Europe, with a job offer from a UK company.
As it stands, those looking to enter the UK on the Tier 2 visa currently need to have a degree level qualification and a definite job offer. Furthermore, the company that wants to recruit them needs to become an accredited sponsor, advertise (non-shortage) roles for 28 days in the UK first, and meet salary thresholds for the role.
The MAC, a group of independent economists, is exploring how to make it even harder for non-EU nationals to enter the UK. Specifically it’s looking at raising the salary threshold, restricting which roles are eligible, limiting the amount of time a role can be classed as in shortage, introducing a skills levy and restricting the rights of dependents.
The MAC is due to submit its report to the Home Office in mid-December.
It's worth noting the Home Affairs Committee, the House of Commons committee that examines the policy, administration and expenditure of the Home Office and its associated bodies, is carrying out its own inquiry into the impact of the cap on Tier 2 visas, revealing that it is concerned about the cap’s impact on the UK economy.
"Reaching the cap limit for the first time sparked concerns of skills shortages,” said MP Keith Vaz, chair of the committee.
“It is easy to see how this could impact on the services, sectors and small businesses who rely on skilled workers from abroad, and in the longer term impact on the economy. There are also serious concerns about the knock-on effect of the loss of the post-study work route.
“The Committee hopes to gain an insight into whether the current system is the best way to achieve the twin aims of controlled immigration that can maintain the level of skilled workers essential to providing the services we all rely on and enjoy."