Brexit Fears Prompt UK to Issue More Tech Visas

February 27, 2017 - 2 minutes read

If Brexit made ripples in the economy, it made waves in the tech industry. App developers in London’s thriving mobile development community fear that the separation from the EU could damage their status as the top mobile tech center in Europe — or at least, make it much harder to do business there.

The government seems to have heard their concerns, and recently moved to boost the immigration visas allocated to the tech industry by 50 — a small number in the context of Silicon Valley, but a serious boon for app developers seeking to hire highly-skilled engineers in a workforce that sometimes falls short of providing the right talent.

Much like their counterpart urban tech centers in the US, the UK struggles with meeting the demand for skilled, technically educated workers to fill thousands of positions in tech companies. The move to actually increase visa acceptance for foreigners after the Brexit vote — which many see as a protectionist move — is ironic, but positive from an economic standpoint. The question for London iPhone app developers is: will the US follow suit, as American politics seem to be following a similar protectionist, anti-immigration political movement?

The organization responsible for processing and granting the visas, Tech City UK, plans to push for an even bigger growth in visa limits next year. Whether that will fly once the Brexit policy becomes effective remains to be seen. For iPhone app developers, there’s a lot of potential revenue hanging on that decision.

For US app developers, the situation is even more complex thanks to the ongoing tussle between President Trump and Federal Judges on immigration bans targeting visa-holders from Muslim-majority countries. Analysts expect that tempting top talent to Silicon Valley could be difficult in an erratic protectionist political climate. For the time being, Silicon Valley is weathering the storm and doing everything they can to engage with the current administration and advise on how to create win-win policies for tech and Capital Hill.

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