Theresa May’s adviser Kathryn Parsons calls for tech visa to keep talent

Mark Shapland
Entrepreneur Kathryn Parsons pictured at her east London offices: Daniel Hambury/Stella Pictures

Tech guru Kathryn Parsons has called for the introduction of a French-style “tech visa” to help attract and keep talent in the face of Brexit and safeguard London’s status as the technology capital of Europe.

The founder of tech training firm Decoded said she would use her high-profile positions on Prime Minister Theresa May’s and Mayor Sadiq Khan’s business councils to promote the idea.

In June, French president Emmanuel Macron launched the French tech visa, a fast-track four-year residence permit for entrepreneurs and their families. The visa makes it easier for fast-growing companies to hire foreign talent and set up shop in France. Parsons wants the UK to go even further and grant anyone with a degree or PhD in science, technology, engineering and mathematics a 10-year visa.

She told the Standard: “Many tech executives have left the capital, unwilling to wait and see how Brexit pans out in two years’ time.”

Current rules stipulate that immigrants from outside the European Union with an “exceptional talent” can apply for a visa and stay in the UK for five years.

However, places are limited to 1000 per year.