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Relaxed Immigration Rules for Games Industry Workers Announced

Ranking in at fifth place on the global stage and reaching a record-breaking £5.7 billion in value last year, the UK gaming sector boasts a value position. Therefore, it is an attractive destination for some of the world’s most talented games industry workers.

Call us on 0333 305 9375 for immediate help if you are looking to relocate to the UK to continue your gaming career and need support with applying for a UK visa. . We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.

Games industry workers may be able to benefit from relaxed immigration rules after Brexit, but will it be enough to overcome the sector’s crisis? Our political correspondent looks into the changes.

Ranking in at fifth place on the global stage and reaching a record-breaking £5.7 billion in value last year, the UK gaming sector boasts a value position. Now a shining success story, the video games sector is now worth more than video and music combined.

With the likes of Fortnite and Apex Legends gripping the nation – and of all ages – the sector is showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, The Independent Game Developer’s Association (TIGA) for the UK and EU, found 2019 to promise yet another year of expansion and investment.

Of all 60 games businesses to respond to TIGA’s Business Opinion Survey, 77% voiced plans to increase their workforce this year. This is a significant increase from the 68% who claimed to expand in 2018. A further 62% believe the economic and business climate in the UK is favourable for the gaming sector.

It’s clearly only an upward trajectory from here with figures demonstrating the sector is on track to achieve its ambitious £139 billion value goal by 2021.

However, as the industry anticipates the future with unparalleled optimism, here to dampen spirits is the arrival of Brexit and its restrictive immigration plan. This poses some threat to the workforce’s stability and the gaming sector as a whole.

Workforce shortages

The sectors’ success largely lies in the hands of its multicultural and diverse workforce. 61% of games businesses claim to rely on overseas expertise. According to UKIE, EU staff make up 35% of the wider workforce. A further 17% originate from beyond Europe.

Yet Brexit threatens to limit access to these highly-valued talent pools. 30% of respondents to TIGA’s survey expressed concern for skills gaps and widespread shortages. However, shortages are already prevalent in the sector: The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found that programme and software developers have an above-average vacancy rate and “tops our shortage indicators’ ranking”. Across the UK, stakeholders identify job shortages in web designers and developers, UX designers and VFX designers.

Exacerbating concerns for the workforce is the arrival of the skills-based immigration plan that includes costly visa restrictions for EU entrants. Scheduled to take effect by 2021, all EU nationals looking to fill a position in the gaming sector will most likely be looking at the Skilled Worker Visa route. This involves seeking sponsorship from a UK employer and meeting a set of requirements. Although many won’t struggle to meet the £30,000 minimum income requirement, the salary expectation elbows the most new talent and graduates clear out of the opportunity.

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