Exclusive: Visa scheme struggles to attract overseas tech specialists to UK

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Poor marketing?

Last year, the Home Office ran a series of workshops to inform UK tech companies and entrepreneurs about immigration and visas. One workshop, held at Google Campus in Shoreditch, was dedicated to the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. At the event, attendees were informed about the criteria for endorsement, the application process and the role that Tech City UK is playing in the implementation of the visa.

The number of attendees at this event are unknown. However, the low number of applications for Tech City UK's Tier 1 Execptional Talent Visa would suggest the majority of the workshop attendees chose not to put someone forward for the visa.

One UK tech company desperate to fill a skills gap in its London office is Intent HQ, which gives website owners insight into who is visiting their site. CEO Jonathan Lakin said overseas talent is “vital” to his business. Lakin said he has recruited several of his staff from European cities with strong universities, such as Barcelona, but sometimes he needs to look further afield. “This global pool often brings a different approach to the problems we tackle that helps foster genuine innovation,” he said.

Techworldasked Shields to reveal the figures at a conference in March, but she refused, adding it’s “still early days”.

Tech City UK declined to comment on the figures, adding it is currently bound by purdah.

Last September, Ravi Lal, head of operations at Tech City UK, told Techworld that the "bar has been set very high" for candidates looking to apply for the exceptional talent visa.

"Since its launch in April 2014, we have seen interest in the scheme and Tech City UK is currently promoting the programme internationally to ensure we continue to raise awareness of this opportunity and attract highly-skilled non-EU citizens to the UK.”

This story, "Exclusive: Visa scheme struggles to attract overseas tech specialists to UK" was originally published by Techworld.com.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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