New UK Fintech Visas May Create Problems Unless they’re Properly Designed to Support Controlled Migration, Legal Experts Claim

A new United Kingdom Visa to attract Fintech experts might lead to undesirable results unless the government figures out how to effectively deal with some of the potential issues, according to analysts.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequor, noted in Wednesday’s (March 3, 2021) Budget that an “elite, points-based Visa” would be offered by March of next year, in order to make it easier for professionals in the Fintech industry to move to the United Kingdom.

TechUK, the technology industry body, and local UK firms have welcomed the Visa as part of the potential solution to the current shortage of Fintech specialists in the country.

But Julia Jackson, a consultant working at law firm Wedlake Bell, has cautioned that the Visa would need to be a lot better designed than other government initiatives so that it can support controlled immigration.

As first reported by the FT, Jackson noted:

“Current schemes have struggled with a basic conundrum. How to create a system that is cheap and seamless for those workers the UK regards as economically desirable, while barring enough applicants to maintain confidence on migration control among a largely distrustful public.”

Ian Robinson, a Partner at immigration law firm Fragomen, has cautioned that the introduction of new Visa categories could lead to confusion.

Robinson added that “you just end up with a very confused hotchpotch of visa categories.”

The new Visa applications have been proposed a few months after the end of free movement between the UK and the European Union which has made it challenging for companies to hire new staff members from mainland Europe.

While the updated guidelines have made it easier to acquire new Visas for staff members based outside of Europe, many firms are still worried that they’ll have a difficult time hiring workers with the expertise and experience required by demanding technology jobs and projects.

The Home Office has not yet provided comprehensive rules or guidelines pertaining to the new Visas.

Julian David, CEO at TechUK, said the new Visas are a good idea but noted that “determined action” was needed to fill all the vacant roles in the industry.

David added that “the announcement of a new fast track visa scheme demonstrates how the UK can use a new approach to our borders to attract the best global talent.”

Alan Manning, Professor at the London School of Economics and former head of the UK government’s Migration Advisory Committee, claims that the new Visa will probably not lead to the recruitment of qualified professionals.

He also mentioned that the older “entrepreneur” Visa class had managed to attract many applicants. However, in 2015, the Committee had pointed out that they were lacking in quality, adding that it had numerous “low-quality” initiatives and that they resulted in “little or nothing to UK plc”.

The replacement for that particular Visa, referred to as the “innovator” Visa, had really strict guidelines and had not been able to attract applicants, Manning confirmed. There were only around 280 Visas that were granted during its initial 18 months (as of December 2020).

The Chancellor had initiated a review of the Innovator Visa applications while also announcing plans for the Fintech-focused Visas.

Manning added that the United Kingdom appears to have had difficulties “finding the sweet spot if it exists.”

While commenting on these developments, the UK Treasury stated that the new Visa might be able to expedite the process of recruiting specialists to work in demanding tech jobs.

The department further noted:

“We are going further with a simpler sponsorship process, automatic visas for global award recipients, and a scheme that actively recruits international entrepreneurs — to boost firms and drive economic growth.”

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