There is some good news on the immigration front as it has been announced by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid that there will be a new visa created for start-up founders. The UK is trying to position itself as a tech hub and in the wake of Brexit, it will be important for Britain to try and find a new competitive advantage and the government clearly sees that as coming from the tech sector. With America's Silicon Valley as an ideal template, the UK could become Europe's centre of technological excellence. Being the biggest majority English speaking nation in Europe, the UK is well placed to offer an alternative to the USA and can help to keep the UK's economy buoyant.
On the plans Sajid Javid said: "The UK can be proud that we are a leading nation when it comes to tech and innovation, but we want to do more to attract businesses to the UK and our migration system plays a key part in that.
"That's why I am pleased to announce a new visa for people wanting to start a business in the UK. 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."
There is no doubt that the UK could foster a new generation of tech talent. It has all the right ingredients to do so: top universities and talent. As long as the government is willing to fund it, there is a very good chance that the UK could be the next tech boom area. When coupled with large amounts of capital available from the city to invest, the UK could really make a go of being Silicon Valley 2.0. The visa itself is due to be rolled out in the spring of 2019, just after the UK leaves the European Union. It's timing is ideal to try and stave off some of the likely after effects of leaving the trading bloc.
Though Javid gave little in the way of detail, there was the detail that the start-ups concerned would need some form of endorsement. This endorsement will likely come from a university or business and this would include "accelerators". Accelerators help startups to get off the ground and provide a whole ecosystem in which businesses can help get the funding and mentorship that they need to turn their idea into a reality. Their use is a big help to these businesses and with a likely economic downturn on the horizon, many investors may look to diversify into helping these businesses get off of the ground.
The remaining eligibility criteria is likely to be similar to other visa routes with a requirement for English language and the ability to show that the applicant can support themself and their loved ones. The new visa could fit quite neatly into the UK's existing visa options and would not be too complicated to introduce. The main issue is finding universities and businesses that could be relied upon to verify that the business has a great chance of succeeding. Fix this problem and you have a great visa option.
As Home Secretary Sajid Javid alluded to in his statement, the UK needs to try and gain a competitive edge in the future. Brexit is likely to be a huge shock to the system of the British economy and there is a need to try and introduce rapidly expanding markets and opportunities to try and minimise the harm. Tech could have a huge part to play in this and the UK could be at the forefront as long as it does the right things to ensure businesses have everything that they need to thrive. Though there is nothing yet laid out, there must be a feeling in the higher echelons of government that there needs to be huge changes to the business ecosystem to try and jump start growth. The UK economy has grown slowly since the global crisis in 2008. A failing retail sector and now Brexit threaten to slow that even further. The government urgently needs to make changes for the UK to thrive.
One of the options that was discussed was dropping National Insurance contributions for the self employed. In recent years the "gig economy" has grown rapidly. Now more than ever, British workers are choosing to work more flexibly or take on some self employed work to bolster their wages. This is great news for the British economy, but so far the government has been slow to help these people. A change in taxation to benefit them could keep this area growing considerably and help to harness a huge potential drift change occuring as we speak. With retail struggling and Brexit on the horizon, it is likely that the "gig economy" will have a huge impact. The option to work flexibly is also great for students and parents and needs to be encouraged. If the UK is serious about facing the changing nature of business, it needs to do more to help these people as well. They can help to fuel the tech boom as well as the start-up visa. Whatever the government decides to do, it needs to do it quickly. Britain's economic landscape is changing rapidly and the government needs to do all it can to keep it going.
If you are looking to move to the UK to start a business, or are just looking at moving to the UK to live and work then please get in touch. Our immigration solicitors can help to move you in the right direction and get you the advice and help that you need to help make the move as easy as possible. So get in touch today and let our team help you make your dream move a reality.