The U.K. will offer visas to immigrants looking to start new businesses as it seeks to attract tech entrepreneurs, amid reports they are being deterred by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
Applicants will need the endorsement of a university or a business sponsor from an approved list under the program, which replaces a route for graduates to settle in Britain and will start next year, the Home Office said in an email.
Tech companies have complained that reduced access to European funding, difficulty in recruiting talent and uncertainty have discouraged the businesses that the U.K. government sees as a key driver for growth. Despite the complaints, investment in the British tech sector doubled last year, according to a report on the sector.
“We want to do more to attract businesses to the U.K. and our migration system plays a key part in that,” Home Secretary Sajid Javid will say at a London Tech Week event, according to extracts of his speech released by his office. “This will help to ensure we continue to attract the best global talent and maintain the U.K.’s position as a world-leading destination for innovation and entrepreneurs.”
The new visa has been devised after feedback from the tech sector, the Home Office said.
Loss of control of immigration was a rallying point for opponents of Britain’s membership of the EU, and the pledge by Prime Minister Theresa May and her predecessor David Cameron to cut immigration to “tens of thousands” a year backfired on the government when they repeatedly missed the target.