Global Talent: In the darkness of COVID-19 chaos, the UK needs tech talent to light the way

25 March 2020

This is not just another piece about the omnipresent spectre of Coronavirus. Since the Coronavirus outbreak began in December last year, we have seen the world focus on little else other than the potentially catastrophic impact of the virus on our physical, mental and economic health. We have seen the virus bring out the worst in us, from the selfish locust-like stripping of supermarket shelves, to an unconscionably racist rhetoric surrounding the origin of the virus in Wuhan. It’s time to focus on the positive and to shine a light on the innovative thinking driving the technology that will surely help us battle and beat Coronavirus. It’s time to think about how we, as immigration specialists, can help bring that essential tech talent to the UK.

This is a pandemic in which technology will play a key role in bringing a resolution. We have already realised that this will be the most high-tech response to a pandemic in human history. In the coming onslaught, technological support in keeping essential services running, keeping businesses afloat and keeping people alive will be undeniable and immeasurable. This global pandemic is showing us, on an unprecedented level, just how interconnected the world is now. 

The role of technology amidst the pandemic

The impact of technology is manifesting in a wide range of ways. Those of us who have been unable to find groceries have managed to keep ourselves fed at the touch of an app, we have seen community-led social networking groups helping to provide relief and assistance to the vulnerable, and home working technologies have enabled me to bring this blog to you from the (relative) safety of my front room.

Perhaps most crucially, and as the healthcare system prepares to shoulder this overwhelming burden, we will see the positive contribution which health-tech can make in easing the pressure on the public sector.

As we have been sinking into chaos, we have seen UK-based tech companies coming up with radical solutions. In health-tech in particular we have some home-grown British businesses rising to the challenge. Doctify, Pushdoctor and Babylon Health have shown they can alleviate the pressure on the NHS through offering free video consultations. CausaLens could potentially help with optimising limited resource allocation by predicting how diseases may spread in real time. BenevolentAI is already working on identifying existing drugs that could relieve some of the symptoms and complications of the virus.  Finally, Amplyfi has already offered up a public Coronavirus global search engine covering all modern languages, taking their potential contribution beyond the confines of the UK.

The possibilities for advancement in the health-tech sector are, of course, not limited to the Coronavirus response, which has been recognised by Tech Nation with exciting health-tech companies such as Healx, BenevolentAI and Babylon being named in Tech Nation’s Future Fifty 8.0 cohort. The potential future impact of health-tech in supporting the beleaguered NHS is myriad and wide-ranging. It has already been seen how access to online consultations can transform general practice, and this can be extended further through electronic prescribing capabilities. It is likely that the necessity of moving standard GP appointments to telephone and online consultations will have lasting impacts on the way these services are offered.

Tech can also revolutionise surgery through developments in 3D printing, and the ability of virtual reality to ease the rehabilitation process for amputees is also currently being explored. Beyond that, the potential for advancements in cyber security to allow us to develop more streamlined and accessible patient record databases could bring untold benefits to both research and care management. The possibilities are endless.

All of this demonstrates the key role that tech plays and will continue to play in the UK and beyond. The tech sector will be at the heart of the Coronavirus response but also, arguably, to our future success as a nation. The ability of these tech companies to pivot and adapt to completely unprecedented situations like these is due largely to the innovative and ingenious thinking of the teams behind them. The UK digital tech sector offers a forum for the best and brightest to come to the forefront, to innovate and see solutions where others see only problems. As shown in Tech Nation’s 2020 report, there is ample evidence that the UK is getting this right. The Tech Nation report indicates that in 2019 the digital tech sector grew six times faster than the rest of the UK economy and that more than £10 billion of inward investment helped UK tech businesses to grow. This accounted for a whopping one-third of all EU tech investment!

Tech Nation endorsement and the Global Talent visa

The UK digital tech sector is growing exponentially and is cementing its place as a world leader. Access to talent is widely recognised as being a key factor to the ongoing success of sector development. Endorsement by Tech Nation under the Global Talent route is an excellent way for key talent to either stay in or come to the UK. If you are an innovative thinker and have big plans for the UK digital tech sector, then this could be the perfect route for you.

As one of the legal partners of Tech Nation, we have had the privilege of attending some of their exciting events and have witnessed first-hand the fantastic community they have brought together, complete with a super engaged alumni network.  If you want to be a part of that community and have questions about the Tech Nation endorsement or the Global Talent visa in general then please get in touch. The UK needs you, now more than ever!


Latest blogs & news

Supporting Ukraine: Kingsley Napley is organising a Ukrainian lunch to support British Schools and Homes for Ukrainians

It has now been over two months since Russia launched its military invasion of Ukraine. Since then, thousands of people have died, towns and cities have been destroyed and 13 million people have been displaced. As a result, people around the World have mobilised to help in any way they can and Kingsley Napley also wants to play its part.

The High Potential Individual visa – a route with… high potential?

Launching on 30 May 2022, the High Potential Individual (“HPI”) visa will be one of several new immigration routes introduced by the Home Office this year. Designed to attract “the brightest and best” to the UK, the HPI visa appears to form part of the Government’s wider plan to deliver an ‘elite points based system’, as announced in their ‘Build Back Better: Plan for Growth’, to ensure the UK maintains its status as a “leading international hub for emerging and disruptive technologies”.

The Ukrainian Temporary Protection Scheme in the EU: Comparisons with the UK

On 24 February 2022 Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine. At the time of writing, hostilities are on going. According to UNHCR over 4 million people have fled Ukraine mainly heading west towards and into EU Member States. On 4 March 2022, the EU opened a temporary protection scheme for Ukrainians (and others who were resident in Ukraine and had to flee) using a directive which was adopted in 2001 but had never been used since. In this blog we will examine the scope of the scheme in light of both the Decision which opened it and the Commission’s operational guidelines issued a few weeks later to clarify Member States obligations. The purpose is to understand what those fleeing Ukraine can expect to receive by way of assistance in the EU and compare the UK’s scheme with it.

Change of Plan? The House of Lords’ apposite amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill

As Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II has unfolded in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the House of Lords has finalised its reporting stage review of the Nationality and Borders Bill.

A lack of compassion. The UK’s disappointing response to fleeing Ukrainian refugees

The UK government’s so far meagre UK immigration options for Ukrainians are set out in our FAQs.

UK says it’s not all about the money. After the closure of the Tier 1 (Investor) category – what options are there for potential investors?

The Tier 1 (Investor) category was abruptly chopped out of the UK’s immigration system for new applicants at 4pm on 17 February. After previous and on-going reviews, in what appears to have been a hot-headed moment responding to political tensions with Russia, the category has been closed to new applicants. Deadlines (called ‘sunset clauses’) of 17 February 2026 for extension applications and 17 February 2028 for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) applications have also been introduced for those already holding investor status.

Will the Scale-up visa stand-up to the hype?

As we look ahead to the immigration changes on the horizon for 2022, one big expectation is an expansion of the visa routes available to those looking to work in the UK. Such changes are very welcome given the UK’s on-going demand for top talent. Among those hotly anticipated additions, the Scale-up visa stands out. Here we look at it a little closer and consider what we might expect from this visa option.


The Home Office’s new “early ILR concession”

Progressive developments in immigration law have become a rare phenomenon, so the Home Office’s new policy – which halves the route to settlement for certain young people who have resided in the UK for more than half of their lives – is welcome news.

How should panels deal with past allegations made by a complainant?

Conviction cases are ordinarily relatively straightforward for regulators. If a registrant is convicted of a criminal offence, the regulator will generally treat the fact of the conviction as proof the offence was committed – and take action to protect the public accordingly. See Achina v General Pharmaceutical Council [2021] EWHC 415 (Admin) for an example of the difficulties registrants face when they attempt to ‘go behind’ the facts of a conviction.

Why it’s time for an MBA visa

With the UK Chancellor’s budget announcement tomorrow, many UK businesses will be hoping for some good news on the recruitment front to help alleviate current skills shortages across a range of industries. They are likely to get short shrift. The Government has repeatedly pushed back on requests for sector specific carve-outs to deal with post-Brexit recruitment blocks. Instead, its relentless focus has been on the much more popular and palatable high-skilled immigration, attracting the “brightest and the best” with a focus on innovation, research and technology and the exceptionally talented.   

Nationality and Borders Bill shows questionable priorities

The Nationality and Borders Bill, the government’s signature piece of legislation on immigration, shows questionable priorities at a time when the UK is in the midst of a wider immigration crisis.

Why it’s time for youth mobility visas for EU nationals

The Youth Mobility Scheme allows employers to access younger workers from countries such as India and Iceland for two years. With skills shortages afflicting critical sectors, now might be the time for the government to consider a youth visa agreement with the EU.

Covid and post-Brexit immigration rules serve up a recipe for disaster in the hospitality sector

From being the centrepiece of England’s post-Covid recovery with ‘eat out to help out’, the hospitality sector is now struggling to rebuild after lockdowns, furlough and rising food prices. At the same time many restaurants, cafes and pubs are coming up against the hard realities of a post-Brexit immigration policy and discovering what it means for their business.

(In)definitely maybe – when indefinite doesn’t quite mean indefinite

You have come to the end of your long immigration journey, paid thousands of pounds to UKVI to obtain permission to enter, permission to stay and then, finally, indefinite leave to remain (ILR) (also called settlement). When obtaining ILR, individuals may understandably breathe a sigh of relief – it’s over! For many who, for various reasons, choose not to naturalise or register as British, ILR can provide adequate status to live and work in the UK permanently.

What next for EU citizens in the UK?

The vast majority of EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who were UK residents by the end of last year were able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by the 30 June 2021 deadline. Applying to the EU Settlement Scheme meant that an EU citizen could stay in the UK for the long term.

Missed the EU Settlement Scheme deadline? FAQs on what to do next

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) was 30 June 2021. But for those who missed it – all is not lost. The Home Office will continue to accept applications from individuals with ‘reasonable grounds’ for having missed the EUSS cut-off point. In this blog, we explore what might constitute a ‘reasonable ground’ and consider the legal implications for those who have fallen short of the deadline.

The Home Office has shown efficiency and innovation in dealing with EU nationals-it now needs to show its humanity

In February 2019, shortly after the launch of EU Settlement scheme for EU nationals to apply for their UK status, my colleagues and I visited one of our global media client’s offices to present on the new EU Settlement Scheme at a town hall meeting with all of their EU national employees. 

eSports vs. the Law

Gone are the days of computer gaming being viewed as a secluded activity; gaming is now a thoroughly social experience that attracts a global audience of millions and players can compete for large sums of money and celebrity. This burgeoning industry is largely in a virtual world and has developed in a blockchain, decentralised fashion. Often the UK government talks up the UK gaming industry and how keen the government is to support this sector, and there have been instances that show support, but when it comes to playing games competitively, law and regulations have not yet caught up.

Final countdown to the EU Settlement Scheme deadline

The UK left the EU in January 2020, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement there has been a grace period in place since 1 January 2021 which ends on 30 June 2021. The basis of the grace period is that those EU citizens (and EEA and Swiss citizens) who were residents in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Throwing a spanner into football’s European Super League plans using immigration laws

The furore around the announcement by a number of football clubs of their intention to create a European Super League has led to governments displaying their opposition to the idea and issuing threats on the legislative leverage that could be used to stop the breakaway league from getting going.

COVID-19 related insights:

COVID-19 related insights:

Our COVID-19 statement

We recognise that these unique times are presenting unprecedented challenges for our clients and we are here to support you in any way we can.

Click to view

Can you get out of or suspend a contract because of Coronavirus?

Alex Torpey covers the key things to look out for if you are relying on the Force Majeure clause.

Watch the video on LinkedIn

Overcoming the challenges of co-parenting for separated and divorced parents

Rachel Freeman, Partner in our Family Law team, addresses some issues that we are seeing arise for separated parents in the current crisis.

Read the blog

Tech in Two Minutes - Episode 7 - The Coronavirus challenge for tech coworking spaces

Andrew Solomon speaks about the challenge for tech companies and coworking spaces during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Listen to the podcast

The legal basis for lockdown

Alun Milford, Partner in our Criminal Litigation team, provides an in-depth look at the legal basis behind the current lockdown.

Read the blog

Managing your Migrant workforce in the COVID-19 crisis

On Friday 3 April, immigration partner and head of department, Nick Rollason, hosted a webinar looking at urgent issues employers are facing during the COVID-19 crisis and answered some of the key questions being raised.

Watch the webinar recording

Furlough leave and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: key legal considerations for Employers

On Thursday 9 April, Andreas White, Partner in our Employment Law Team, delivered an overview of the scheme with a focus of the key legal issues for UK employers.

Watch the webinar recording

Coronavirus and the perils of signing your Will

Will instructions have apparently risen by 30% since COVID-19 reached our shores. What effect does COVID-19 have on Will signings? James Ward and Diva Shah in our Private Client team blog.

Read the blog

The juggling act of a single mother, home school teacher and head of a family team

Charlotte Bradley, Head of our Family Law Team, reflects on how the COVID-19 crisis has affected working parents like her.

Read the blog

The future public inquiry into COVID-19

Calls for a public inquiry are continuing to mount and are likely to prove difficult to resist. In this blog, Sophie Kemp considers the framework for such inquiries, and the key issues likely to form the core of its terms of reference.

Read the blog

Share insightLinkedIn Twitter Facebook Email to a friend Print

Email this page to a friend

We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

Leave a comment

You may also be interested in:

Skip to content Home About Us Insights Services Contact Accessibility