The UK is to overhaul its visa system to enable fast-growth businesses to hire more foreign workers, attract highly talented individuals and attract tech founders.
A “scale-up” visa scheme will open for applications in the next few months, allowing fast-growing companies to automatically hire overseas workers if they have a headcount of at least 10 staff and are growing by 20 per cent a year for three years in terms of revenue or employee numbers.
Meanwhile, a “high-potential individual” visa that will allow graduates from the world’s top 100 universities to live in the UK, even if they don’t have a job offer, is also due to be launched in the spring.
And a new “innovator” visa is planned this year that will make it easier for entrepreneurs from overseas with venture capital backing to launch a business in Britain.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak explored opening up Britain’s visa system last year during a Treasury open day on venture capital and tech investment. Last week, Mr Sunak said creating one of the world’s most attractive visa schemes for entrepreneurs and highly skilled people would “have a significant impact on our levels of innovation” and he pledged to foster a “new culture of enterprise”.
Brent Hoberman, co-founder of Made.com and lastminute.com, the British unicorns, told The Times: “It will make it much easier for technology companies and fast-growing companies to hire foreign talent from anywhere in the world.”
Many fast-growing businesses say that there are not enough skilled workers in Britain to meet their needs, with Brexit and the pandemic exacerbating the talent shortage. Wages for some roles have inflated by 40 per cent.