UK tech visa applications skyrocketed in September

Tech Nation chair Stephen Kelly said this flies in the face of claims that COVID-19 will deter people coming to the UK to work

Visa applications for technology jobs in the UK skyrocketed in September 2020, making it the highest month for Tech Nation applications since the platform started keeping records in 2014.

August 2020 was also found to be the third highest month for visa applications on record.

According to Tech Nation, applications in the third quarter of 2020 were up 42% compared to Q2, which was hit hard by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the number of applications also exceeded those from the third quarter of 2019 by 8%. 

Tech Nation, which was founded in 2010, is designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the Global Talent Visa in digital technology. The Global Talent visa, or Tier 1 visa, can be used to work in the UK by leaders, or potential leaders, in the fields of academia or research, arts and culture, and digital technology.

Tech Nation found that the UK’s digital technology sector has predominantly attracted applicants from India, Russia, and the US who had experience in software development, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Commenting on the findings, Tech Nation chair Stephen Kelly said that “the data flies in the face of claims that remote working and Covid-19 will deter people coming to the UK to work”. 

“Quite the contrary,” he added. “In an environment where talented entrepreneurs are facing potential obstacles in moving to the US, the UK is a natural home.”

When asked what might have caused the spike in applications last month, Tech Nation's head of visas Matt Jeffs-Watts told IT Pro that it “is most likely a result of recovering application volumes following the international lockdown and global response to COVID-19”.

“This naturally has had an impact on applicants' decision to apply as they considered their local lockdown restrictions, such as ability to travel to the UK, but these initial constraints have eased significantly.

“UK Tech was growing six times faster than the rest of the economy before the pandemic, so we’re pleased to see the UK being able to welcome new talent and continue driving the economy forward. A quarter of those who receive a Tech Nation visa are founders who bring the capital and knowledge required to build leading tech businesses.

"With its convenient time zone for international business, world leading universities, access to global talent, and position at the heart of global finance, the UK is a great place to set up and grow a business,” he said.

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