Tier 2 visa rules 'suffocating' small growing businesses

A new organisation the Scale Up Institute that helps small businesses with good potential, headed up by Cambridge entrepreneur, Sherry Coutu, and her business partner, Reid Hoffman, is urging the UK government to lift all restrictions on recruiting top talent from overseas. They say that tier 2 visa restrictions are stifling growth for many start-up businesses.

The Scale-Up Institute says that preventing UK start-ups from recruiting international talent is 'suffocating young businesses and detrimental to the economy'; they are not alone in their views. Search engine giant, Google, the London Stock Exchange and other top organisations have given their backing to the Institute.

These organisations have given their support to the work of the Institute based on from numerous scale-up companies, 80 per cent of which said that they would be in a position to expand their company quicker if the tier 2 visa system was easier to navigate.

The Institute says that the employment of foreign workers facilitates the expansion of distribution for products and services. 'This helps companies penetrate international markets and assists with the introduction of new products and services across fresh territories globally,' the Institute said.

Risk of losing business due to difficult tier 2 visa process

Companies run the risk of losing business because if they want to recruit from overseas; the tier 2 visa process takes too long and they're left without the personnel to fulfil new orders.

Coutu and Hoffman state: "A company operating in a nation without a skills shortage can be confident in accepting customer orders and hiring personnel to meet those orders, creating a virtuous circle. However, in a country where skill shortages are rife, like the UK, businesses are forced to delay accepting orders until they have the workforce to meet demand."

According to Coutu and Hoffman, the recruitment process in the UK can take months; negotiating terms and then acquiring internal approval slows the process down. Then, if they're unable to recruit from within the UK, companies are forced to recruit from overseas.

The pair say that 'the process of recruiting someone from overseas and getting them to the UK is even more complicated. Many firms often rely on immigration lawyers for assistance with navigating the tier 2 visa process, and even then a prospective candidate could opt for another, less complicated employment offer.'

Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa

Executive chair of the Institute, Coutu, said that the tier 1 entrepreneur visa while a good thing, did not aid home-grown companies with a desire to grow.

Existing tier 2 immigration restrictions are making it substantially difficult for scale-up companies to recruit nationals from outside the European Union. This is not in keeping with public attitudes towards the recruitment of highly skilled migrants which is generally positive.

Tier 2 visa process in brief

Organisations looking to hire highly skilled migrants with a tier 2 general visa must have a tier 2 sponsorship licence, which makes a business eligible to sponsor overseas workers on tier 2 visas. Employers with a tier 2 sponsorship licence also need to apply for certificate of sponsorships which are then issued to specific foreign workers, to enable them to apply for tier 2 visas.

In 2013, just 11,790 tier 2 visas were issued by the Home Office, despite there being a cap of 20,700. According to the Institute, with the decline in the number of tier 2 visas being issued, Britain's fastest-growing start-ups are in need of a special immigration visa if they're to stand any chance of reaching similar heights to Google or Facebook in terms of size.

While speaking at a recent tech-focused conference, incoming CEO of the Institute, Irene Graham, said: "We want to see the introduction of a visa for scale-up companies, to assist fast-growing organisations with access to the world's top talent."

"If a company is growing rapidly, but it's taking months and months to acquire the necessary skill set, something needs to happen to speed up the process. A visa for scale-up companies provides a solution to this problem," she added.

Workpermit.com can help with Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licences

If you need help with a Tier 2 sponsorship licence or would like help with complying with your Tier 2 sponsorship licence obligations workpermit.com can help. Call 0344 99 9222 for further details.