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Boris Johnson is in talks with the Home Office over setting up a “London visa” to attract business talent to the capital reports Pippa Crerar in tonights Evening Standard.

The Mayor’s office has submitted plans to Theresa May’s department for a yearly allocation of 100 “exceptional talent” visas.

The Home Office currently issues 1,000 such visas a year for world-class artists, scientists and performers. But the Mayor wants to help hi-tech start-ups and fashion houses in particular because they often struggle with Britain’s costly and bureaucratic visa system.
He said the plan was about attracting the “best and brightest” talent to the capital.
“It is a clear message to the elite of Silicon Valley or the fashionistas of Beijing that London is the place they should come to develop ideas, build new businesses and be part of an epicentre for global talent,” he told the Financial Times.
His deputy mayor for business Kit Malthouse admitted that 100 visas was a low starting point but suggested that there was room for growth. Mr Malthouse, the new chairman of the promotional body London & Partners, said: “If it goes well, hopefully we might be able to apply to the Government to expand it in future.”
He criticised the UK’s “sclerotic” visa system, which has resulted in Chinese tourists spending eight times more in Paris than London and a “disappointing” drop in the number of foreign further education students.
“Having a system which is difficult, bureaucratic, especially for some of those countries where there’s a growing middle class that wants to travel, it seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face,” he told the Standard.
Mr Johnson first raised the prospect of a London business visa last year but the Home Office poured cold water on the plan, with sources saying that it was “unworkable”. As a result, City Hall aides have been working hard to make sure that Whitehall does not feel the latest bid is a power grab. The Mayor has regularly clashed with No 10 over immigration, arguing that it is crucial to London’s economy to keep the door open to foreign businesses.
Mr Johnson is expected to bring up the issue again on his trip to China next month because investors there have struggled with the bureaucracy of the UK visa system.
It has also had an impact on the number of tourists and students coming to Britain. On a trip to India last year, Mr Johnson attacked the Government’s visa policy, saying that it sent out the “wrong signals” and had damaged London’s reputation for higher education.

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

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The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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