The number of people applying for the UK’s Tech Nation visa — which allows individuals to work in the country’s digital technology sector — was at its highest level in September since the system was launched in 2014.
Applications in the third quarter of 2020 were up 42% from the previous quarter, and up 8% from the same time last year. Applicants predominantly came from India, Russia and America, and most were from backgrounds in software development, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
The figures suggest that the coronavirus pandemic — which has seen the UK experience the highest death toll in Europe — and the fears of a no-deal Brexit, have less affected the appeal of the country’s tech sector than might have been expected.
“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,” says Stephen Kelly, chair of Tech Nation.
The ability of the country to attract tech workers is critical to economic recovery after the pandemic, Kelly says — in 2019, for example, £10.1bn was invested into UK tech companies and created 2.9m jobs.
“25% of those who receive a Tech Nation visa are founders. These individuals are setting up businesses across the UK, bringing capital and jobs that are fuelling our economic growth,” he says.
“As we consider the long-term effects of Covid-19 and as borders collapse as we move to the cloud, the UK needs to carefully consider the future of the digital nomad.”
The Tech Nation visa was launched in 2014, and allows founders and employees within the tech sector to come to the UK for up to 5 years without the added authorisation they would otherwise need.