With the UK election day today, I thought I would comment on an issue that has got lot’s of attention but for all the wrong reason –immigration.
Immigration has become a flashpoint in the UK. Both main parties, Labour and Tories have promised to “control” immigration. David Cameron pledges to get immigration down to the “10,00 of thousands” and Labour says they had previously gotten “immigration wrong” - both parties try to out UKIP UKIP. The reality check, under current EU rules, there is little that either party can do to control movement of people within the EU. The UK’s relatively prosperous economy and decent track record on job creation (especially viewed for many across the Channel) continues to lure immigrants to UK and London from across the EU as recent statistics have borne out.
However, what does this mean for immigrants from those coming from rest of the world? Well, under process begun under Labour and continued under the Tory / Lib Dem collation, it has meant a continued tightening of immigration rules for Non-EU residents. Paths to the UK have been altered and changed a mind boggling number of times over the past 10 years. The reality is the old skills based HSMP / TIER 1 has been almost completely scrapped and TIER 2 Company sponsored visas have become incredibly complex to manage, and the rules around students and entrepreneurs have become a chokehold. I was incredibly disheartened to read a recent Bloomberg article on this issue entitled “Welcome to Britain, Thanks for the Hard Work Now Get Lost”.
In my view, these policies are inherently self-defeating. They make it more difficult to attract the pioneers, the best in the world technologists to London –the people who help propel London Tech City forward. Ultimately, it’s not good for London and it’s not good for the country as a whole.
The Home Office is currently running a consultation on the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Route to the UK which will be delivered to the next Government (whomever that may be) Kingsley Napley LLP has written regarding their submission to the committee and is currently running a survey on the issue of Tier One Entrepreneur Visa and an event to discuss the issue on 3rd of June. I encourage those who care about the dynamism of London as a tech hub to get involved.
By Ashok Parekh, Director of Investment Services
Note: Full disclosure, I am an immigrant to the UK and now a full citizen. For a great article on the costs of that process check out Paytriosim on the Economist via @theeconomist