Some of the cream of the technology industry’s crop have clubbed together to try and prevent the government from restricting visas for skilled workers.
The government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is considering proposals that would make hiring skilled workers from outside Europe more difficult.
Among the 230 founders and investors that have written an open letter to David Cameron are Autonomy co-founder Mike Lynch, Acorn Computers founder Hermann Hauser and lastminute.com’s founder Martha Lane Fox.
They are concerned that a limit on skilled worker visas could seriously harm the UK’s digital economy.
The letter says: ““The UK has become a global tech hub thanks in large part to startup founders, investors and employees from across the globe, including many of us who were not born in Britain but choose to invest our time and talents here”
It warns: “further restrictions on skilled migration could restrict the growth of our businesses and hurt UK’s digital economy.”
Guy Levin, executive director of Coadec (the Coalition for the digital economy) which is driving the protest, said: “The government has a strong record supporting digital entrepreneurship, so it doesn’t make sense that it is considering changes that would make it tougher for startups and scale-ups to thrive.
“Any changes to the immigration system must make it easier, not harder, for digital entrepreneurs to come the UK to start their business, and for growing startups to hire top international talent.”
Fellow signatory Alex Stephany, CEO of JustPark, was scathing of the move: “The ever-greater shortage of talent - in software development above all - has become the largest single brake on growth in the tech ecosystem. Without a truly progressive immigration policy to attract the best in global tech talent, it's a pipe dream that London and the UK can surpass Silicon Valley any time soon.”
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