EU nationals have spurned a UK visa scheme for technology workers in the UK despite record numbers of foreigners applying for the programme.
A tiny number of individuals from EU countries – believed to be in the single digits – applied for the visa in the first eight months after freedom of movement ended in January, according to figures from Tech Nation, the body that runs the scheme.
It came despite the total number of applications rising to 752 – 16pc higher than the same period last year and 33pc higher than in the same period in 2019.
The Global Talent visa for technology workers, first launched in 2014, was opened up to EU nationals in January after the end of the Brexit transition period meant start-up founders and engineers needed visas to work in the UK.
The visa lasts for five years and is not tied to a particular company, allowing workers to move jobs or set up their own business. It has fielded around 4,000 applications in the last seven years, with numbers rising in recent years after rules around the visa were relaxed.
Tech Nation said the most applications in the first eight months of 2021 had come from India, Nigeria, Russia and the US.
Applications from the EU are likely to have been depressed by the existence of some alternative programmes, such as the settlement scheme that allowed those already living in the UK to apply for residency.
The pandemic is also likely to have affected applications, although Tech Nation said 35pc of all applications since 2014 had been received in the last 12 months.
Rishi Sunak announced this year that the Government would overhaul the visa system for entrepreneurs that have received funding from “recognised sources” and a new “scale up visa” making it easier for fast-growing companies to hire from abroad.
Expanding the tech visa system to address demand for skilled workers in Britain was a key recommendation in a review of Britain’s financial technology sector led by the former WorldPay boss Ron Kalifa.