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Prepare for an influx of financial technology migrants from the US

Thanks to tighter restrictions on the issuance of H-1B temporary visas at banks receiving TARP money in the US, the UK could see an inflow of experienced financial technology specialists in search of jobs.

US firms have historically been able to issue H-1B visas to skilled migrant workers providing they can prove they’ve given a US candidate a “fair chance for consideration for the job.” This year, up to 65,000 such visas will be issued to people in specified professions, including IT roles on Wall Street.

However, a provision passed by the House of Representatives last week is expected to reduce Wall Street’s ability to hire H1-B holders. TARP recipients can still hire people on the temporary visas, but the process is about to become a lot more onerous.

Kim Berry, president of the Programmers Guild – a society for US technology workers – is unconvinced that the changes will make much difference in the short term.

“Many of these firms are laying off rather than hiring,” he says. “The TARP provisions do not require that the temporary H-1B workers be laid off prior to similarly skilled US workers.”

However, Shawn Banerji, executive director within the financial technology division of headhunters Russell Reynolds Associates, believes a lot of foreign IT workers are already looking towards Europe.

“This is more because of the general slowdown though,” he says. “We’re also seeing H-1B workers who have been here for two or three years trying to get on to the green card programme to avoid having to leave.”

A large number of foreign IT workers are currently looking for opportunities in the UK, says Simon Walker, director of technology recruiter Project Partners.

“Internationally we see a good level of applications from Asia, specifically India, as well as Eastern Europeans. They are generally taken on for very vocational technical led roles such as developers, rather than project managers or business analysts because of the language barrier.”

Non-EU technology workers can enter the UK on a Tier One Visa.