IT industry bodies of India and the UK on Monday urged visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May to “review” the changes proposed in the visa regime that will affect skilled IT migration and consequently, U.K.’s ability to attract best skills and talent from across the globe.
“Given the high levels of business uncertainty for our sector caused by the decision of the U.K. to leave the EU, we would ask that the further changes planned for April next year, including the increase in salary thresholds for Tier 2 ICT visas and the introduction of the Immigration Skills Levy, be subject to fresh, considered review,” Nasscom and techUK said in a letter addressed to Ms May and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The industry bodies added that they are ready to work with Government officials in both countries to ensure that any future changes remain justified in the new context, “given the significant business uncertainty we currently face”. India is the third largest source of FDI into the U.K., and second only to the U.S. in ICT with nearly $19 billion of ICT exports in 2015.
The letter added, “It is crucial our fast growing and high value tech sectors can rely upon an effective immigration policy that attracts high-skilled workers and minimises barriers to the flow of talented people between our two countries.”
The current U.K. points-based system allows high-skilled Indian IT workers to contribute to the U.K.’s digital economy, it said.
techUK and Nasscom came out in support of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that simplifies the trade of goods and services. “In this regard, the key task to both governments is for a high skilled worker mobility agreement, along with an agreement on the free movement of data. We urge you both to consider the movement of skilled tech workers from India as a trade priority rather than an immigration issue.
“Temporary placement of highly-skilled individuals into the U.K. provides a significant economic boost yet has a negligible impact on net migration,” the bodies said.
Pointing out that a closer tech trading relationship will create new prosperity for both the countries, the two industry bodies pitched for establishment of a tech hub in India by the U.K. Government, given that both countries are committed to emerging sectors such as FinTech, cyber security, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities.
The two bodies also suggested greater investment in digital skills to ensure that workforces in both countries are prepared for tomorrow’s jobs and help increase bilateral trade. “The UK digital skills gap currently costs our economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost GDP,” the letter stated.