Category Archives: News

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa | London Visa

Last Sunday evening the FT reported on the London mayor, Boris Johnson’s idea for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa /“London Visa”. If adopted would make it easier for talented technologists from around the world to get jobs in tech start ups and fashion studios. The plan to provide City Hall with a yearly allocation of 100 of the government’s existing exceptional talent visas has already been submitted to the Home Office. If granted the mayor’s office in collaboration with Tech City, the Fashion Council and London Design Festival would pick the best applicants, officially endorse them and speed their entry.

Mr Johnson said “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 in order to develop ideas, build new businnnesses and be part of an epicentre for global talent.”

Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for business and enterprise thought the 100 visas a year was fairly modest and stated that in the fields of technology and design, individual talent really matters. He said ” We only need to find one Steve Jobs and we have an Apple on our hands.”

Fledgling businesses cannot cope with the complications and expense of sponsoring foreign workers. According to an article in Computer Weekly Eric van der Kleij, previously CEO of Tech City, suggested the government could invest money into creating experts to teach young companies how to hire people from outside the UK. He said “You can’t change the robustness of the system or it will be abused, but you should spend the money on helping younger companies use the system.”

A report in today’s Daily Telegraph highlights that the Development Economics study estimated that the technology industry, which employs two million people, needs an extra 750,000 workers by 2017 to ubnlock a £12bn windfall. Britain, especially London, is poised on the brink of becoming one of the power houses of the global dogital economy and a genuine rival to Silicon Valley. According to Jonas Almgren, a Silicon Valley veteran, Britain needs more talent to fuel the latest dotcom boom and that means looking further afield. Like football’s Premier league we need to employ the best the world has to offer if we want to be a global player.

We need Boris Johnson’s idea for a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent “London Visa” and more. The scheme has been designed in a way that would not antagonise the government and as a Conservative politician he is under pressure to toe the party line to stem the flow of immigrants. While walking the tightrope he works hard to keep people focused on the fact that we need to keep the door open for business people and students in the long term interests of the economy.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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UK Eases Visa Rules – 1st October 2013

Last Friday, Mark Harper, the immigration minister, announced changes which generally ease visa rules from 1st October 2013. Some of the key changes are:

  • Removal of the English language requirement for intra-company transferees.
  • Tourists and business visitors are allowed to do some study where it is not the main purpose of their visit.
  • Share ownership restrictions waived for senior staff earning £152,100 or more.
  • Artists of exceptional promise enabled to apply under Tier 1.
  • Graduate entrepreneurs will find it easier to switch into Tier 2.
  • New youth mobility scheme quotas set for 2014
  • Hong Kong will be added to the list of participating countries and territories on the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme in order to further strenghten business, trade and cultural ties.
  • Some students will be allowed to work as interns under the Tier 5 government authorised exchange scheme.
  • The removal of the prospective student route.
  • The expansion of checks to ensure applicants for work and student visas are genuine, and that they intend to meet the conditions of leave they apply for.
  • The introducion of  powers to refuse Tier 4 extension applications where the applicant cannot speak English.
  • Dependants in the Points Based System and other work routes will be allowed to apply from within the UK, providing they are not here illegally, as visitors, or on temporary admission or temporary release. They will still need to satisfy all other existing requirements.
  • Special rules for overseas visitors to the Commonwealth Games 2014 were included.
  • With effect from the 28th October 2013 there will be changes to how applicants for indefinite leave to remain are required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and of life in the UK.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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The SwiftKey to £11.3m

The award-winning Londond based, language technology company, SwiftKey, this week confirmed a $17.5M (£11.3m) series B investment round. This was led by Index Ventures and supported by previous investors Octopus Investments and a number of angel investors. Doctoral research from Cambridge University into artifical intelligence led to the development of this company by Jon Reynolds and Ben Medlock.

The SwiftKey virtual smartphone keyboard app was the top-selling paid app on Android’s Google Play store in 2012.The application corrects your spelling, suggests words based on your past vocabulary, detects what language you are typing and snaps to it, and picks up on your typing quirks. This is a cut above the usual predictive text. There have been 15 million downloads since 2010 and it has topped the donwload charts in 57 countries in the past year. This was their SwiftKey to £11.3m. The app is blocked on Apple iPhones, Blackberries and Windows phones but they do sell technology directly to Samsung and Blackberry for handsets.

The inspiration for the comapany came through Jon Reynolds, while working in the Civil Service in 2008, noticing a lawyer awkwardly typing into a Blackberry using its tiny buttons. He got in touch with Medlock an old friend from his Cambridge days. They attended the Mobile World Congress in 2010 with a prototype and got a contract from Inq Mobile in the UK which enabled them to hire their first employees. They now have 100 employees and are opening offices is San Francisco and Seoul.

According to an ACT Venture Capital report it is estimated that 529,000 people in the EU are directly employed in the design and marketing of smartphone and tablet apps, as online start-ups and blue chip companies are in a hurry to increase their presence on mobile devices. ACT invests in teams and entrepeneurs who can create and scale innovative companies.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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Glasgow to Host the Commonwealth Games in 2014

Glasgow will host the 20th Commonwealth Games from the 27th July to 3rd August 2014. The first event was held in 1930 and has taken place every four years ever since except in 1942 and 1946. The Games include the usual Olympic sports and some that are played mainly in Commonwealth countries, such as lawn bowls, rugby sevens and netball. Over the eleven days 6,500 athletes will participate supported by many officals and 15,000 volunteers. The opening ceremony will be at Celtic Park and this is what we are promised:

With the world holding its breath, Glasgow will introduce itself to the Commonwealth family; show everyone what we’re made of and what we can do.

Here’s just a glimpse of what will happen:

Games’ opening – by the Head of the Commonwealth (or representative) and playing of the Scottish national anthem
Parade of Nations – formal procession by 4,500 athletes and their coaches and management teams
The Queen’s Baton Relay – ends its epic journey which has included visiting the 71 Commonwealth nations and territories

The Home Office aims to ensure that participants, workers, visitors and trade will be able to enter the country swiftly and efficiently. Specatators intending to visit the UK for the event are advised to check on the web page Visiting the UK to find out if they need a visa. If you are coming to the UK to be involved in the Games as an athlete, coach, official of a sporting body or accredited member of the media then the you need to follow the detailed information given by the Home Office here.

Tickets are on sale now and the closing date is the 16th September 2013. Apply here.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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Big Data and Classifying the UK’s Digital Economy

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) published a report last month which was funded by Google and one of its key findings was that the digital economy is poorly served by conventional definitions and datasets. Big data methods can provide richer, more informative and more up to date analysis.

According to NIESR the UK has between 270,000 and 471,000 digital companies while the government only records 187,600 in their statistics. The disparity in the figures arises due to the fact that the government still uses the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) of Economic Activities system which was designed in 1948. NIESR claims this system is outdated and businesses are inaccurately defined by traditional sectors and the fact that they have moved to digital ways of working is overlooked.Their report uses data from independent research body, Growth Intelligence, a company that tracks the activity of firms on the internet using real-time databases and sells the information to clients.

According to the foreword in the report the myth pervades that the internet economy consists largely of tiny dot com and bio-tech start ups in a few technology clusters that quickly bubble up and go bust. It identified that what is actually happening is that the spread of the digital economy into other sectors is driving growth and jobs throughout the UK. Although London still dominates the digital economy there are strong concentrations of technology focused groups in regional areas such as Aberdeen, Middlesborough and Basingstoke. It also identified that that digital companies are working in traditional sectors such as publishing, architecture and engineering. To illustrate their point they give the example of the Scottish company, Kelton Engineering, which sells hi-tech equipment to the oil industry but is wrongly classified under the SIC system as “Business support”.

The Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) says that they are confident that their statistics reliably measure the jobs throughout the UK. NIESR says that companies that are wrongly classified could be missing out on investment because investors use classifications to identify potential investment targets. Speaking at the report’s launch, Business Secretary Vince Cable said the report adds to the very strong case for the Government to develop a “world class digital infrastructure”.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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Mexico May Allow Investment in Their Oil Industry

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto would like to change the Mexican constitution in order to allow private companies to invest it its oil industry. The ban on private investment has been in place since 1938 following worker protests against foreign owned oil companies when the then President, Lazaro Cárdenas, formed the state owned company Pemex by expropriating fields from US and British companies. Since then all stages of the energy chain from production, refining and distribution are the legal property of the people.

The forming of Pemex, a state oil monopoly, is a source of great pride to the Mexican people and they celebrate this on the 18th March every year and the company provides one third of government revenues. The downside is that this has led to years of under investment in the company and output has fallen by 25% over the past ten years. Mexico’s oil fields are drying up and they lack the equipment to explore for new reserves in deep water or to extract shale gas. Pemex’s oil pipelines are old and insufficient and are often drilled into by fuel thieves. A lot oil is is transported in tanker trucks which is a lot more expensive than using an oil pipe.

Mexico has to change it’s approach or risk becoming a net energy importer a few years down the line. They already allow private contractors to operate drills and wells, provide supplies and maintenance but these contracts are not attractive to investors. The President’s plan is to invite companies such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell to sign profit sharing contracts with Pemex where they could explore and extract oil and could also apply for permits for refining and transportation. These companies would have the equipment and expertise. However, these companies would normally have production sharing contracts where they can book reserves.

President Enrique Pena Nieto may well have the political clout to have the constitution changed but it remains to be seen if profit sharing rather than production sharing contracts will secure the right investors.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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Sources for this article were the FT and Latino Fox News

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Excitement in London | A Prince is Born

In terms of excitement London has had a good run in recent years with the Royal Wedding of William and Kate in April 2011, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, The Olympics & Para Olympics in 2012,  Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon a few weeks ago and this week the birth of a boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The birth of the third in line to the throne was marked by gun salutes in Green Park and the Tower of London and the ringing of bells at Westminster Abbey.

Apart from these major flurries how is London really doing?

Visiting London

The above events remind people in the rest of the UK and the world that London has historic and cultural places of interest, museums, art galleries and wonderful parks to explore and encourages them to think of visiting. Tourism is a thriving and important part of the economy. While visting Christopher Wren Churches and studying Grinling Gibbons wood carvings there are new places to visit in the City of London such as The Lloyds Building, The Gherkin, The Shard, The Cheese Grater and The Walkie Talkie.

Professionals Working in London

These new buildings have a purpose. There is very little space left at ground level in the City and these tall buildings provide office space for banking, insurace and legal companies. Highly skilled workers from around the world find this an attractive place to work. The job market is flexible and talent is rewarded with rapid career escalation. It is particularly attractive to European high flyers as they can settle and with a short flight can still have close contact with family back home.

The London Gateway

London was once a global centre for maritime trade. It lost that edge because the Thames was not wide enough or deep enough for bigger vessels. Later this year a new deep sea port called The London Gateway will open twenty five miles east of the capital. The port has a 9 million sq ft of buildings attached to house the largest logistics park in Europe. This will streamline the import and export of goods not just to and from London but to and from other parts of the country.

 

Crossrail for Bikes

London is to get a “Crossrail for bikes” as part of a £913m investment plan in cycling. The plan is for more than 15 miles (24km) of cycle ways through the western suburbs, central London, stretching to Barking in the east. It is expected to open in 2016 and will use a Dutch-style segregated cycle track at places such as Victoria Embankment and the Westway flyover.

Crossrail

Crossrail is Europe’s current largest civil engineering project that by 2018 will provide the first phase a new 21km east-west rail link under London. It will provide 42km of new tunnels and link existing Network Rail services from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west, and Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east  It will connect the City, Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow Airport to commuter areas east and west of the capital. It will bring 1.5 million more people within a 45 minute commute of the West End, The City and Canary Wharf. Journeys from Paddington to the City will take 9 minutes, to Canary Wharf 16 minutes and from Heathrow to Canary Wharf it will take 39 minutes. The trains will be 200 metres long and be able to carry 1,500 people which is nearly  twice as many as the current London Underground tube trains.

In addition Crossrail has developed an art strategy, and is engaging eight world renowned London art galleries to create a permanent line-wide exhibition across the eight central stations.

Crossrail 2

At the end of June this year the Treasury announced £100bn of spending on UK infrastructure projects. £2 million of this is ear marked for a feasibility study into Crossrail 2,  a proposed north-south rail line across London.

The Thames Estuary Airport

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is well known across the world because of the success of the Olympics and Para Olympics. Recently he backed a proposal for a new airport in the inner Thames Estuary which could open in 2029. He attacked ministers for “sitting around like puddings” and doing “nothing” as rival cities abroad build vast airports in an attempt to win a greater slice of global trade. Will it happen? We will have to wait and see.

Conclusion

All this new infrastructure and enterprise will mean that London continues to be an exciting and thriving place and will provide interesting career opportunities for the talented and determined from all corners of the globe. By the time  HRH Prince George of Cambridge becomes a young man  transport to, from and within London will have been transformed.

If you need a visa to work in IT, Engineering, Actuary or Finance Commonwealth Contractors may well be able to help.

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UKBA Online Booking Service Closed on 18th July 2013 in UK

UKBA online service for booking appointments in the UK will be unavailable between 20:00 Thursday 18 July to 23:00 on Thursday 18 July 2013 while they do essential maintenance.

This service is for applicants in the UK wishing to book an appointment for a premium application at one of the public enquiry offices, or to give their biometric information. Applicants in the UK will not be able to book appointments online during that time.

There will be no disruption for applicants in other countries and they can continue to book appointments in the usual way.

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Finance Staff Happy to Live Sheltered Lives

According to a recent interview in the FT with Sally Fisher, a Deloitte partner,  there is a real mis-match between the skills that companies need within finance and the types of skills that finance staff possess. Fisher, a specialist in organisation and change, believes that typically a third of the people in fiance are happy to lead sheltered lives focusing on the numbers.

In general senior finance executives tend to fit the common personality types of introverted thinker, reflective rather than social and often not strong on verbal communication. They have never been rewarded for innovation and the investment in skills development has focused largely on technical expertise. There is no shortage of people with the right technical skills but there is of people with the right behavioural skills. Finance staff need to be able to do the following:

  • Build relationships within finance and across departments and the hierarchy as well as break down silos. 
  • Inspire confidence in others by delivering messages with clarity and impact. Good verbal and written skills are a must.
  • To think strategically and avoid getting side tracked by low-priority issues and focus on the areas of of most importance.
  • Negotiate and influence and push forward the business strategy, diplomatically, once strategic alliances have been formed.
  • To acquire greater commercial acumen.

Sally Fisher would like organisations to focus on:

  • Knowing where the value is in each business area & where the greatest costs are
  • Create the skills to bulid trusted adviser relationships
  • Use the numbers to provide insight into the business strategy
  • Use communication skills to get the business to listen
  • Lead rather than just provide a service function

To read the complete article just click here.

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Croatia a Member of the EU from 1st July 2013

The Republic of Croatia became a member of the EU on the 1st July. This means that Croation nationals can now move and live freely in any member state of the EU. Member states may restrict access to the labour market for a transitional period and the UK is taking up the option to do so.

Before a Croation national can start work they may need to apply for worker authorisation also known as purple registration certificate or the purple card. Those qualifying for the purple card will generally be skilled workers who meet the criteria for the issue of a certificate of sponsorship under Tier 2 and Tier 5 of the points based system unless they are going to be employed as a postgraduate doctor/dentist, sole representative of an overseas business, or a domestic servant in a private household.

The complete Sponsor guidance is available here.

Highly Skilled Persons
A Croatian national may apply for a registration certificate confirming the holder
has free access to the labour market (a “blue registration certificate”) on the basis
that they are a highly skilled person. In order to be regarded as highly skilled, the Croatian national will have to either:

  • meet the relevant requirements of the exceptional talent category under
  • Tier 1 of the points-based system by obtaining an endorsement (e.g. a
    letter of recommendation) from a designated competent body. These
    bodies will either be The Royal Society, The Royal Academy of
    Engineering, The British Academy or the Arts Council; or

  •  in the period of 12 months preceding the date of their application for a
  • blue registration certificate, been awarded one of the following from a UK
    higher education institution:

  1. A recognised bachelor, masters or doctoral degree, or
  2.  A Higher National Diploma (HND) by a Scottish higher education
    institution.

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