On 6 April 2014, the Home Office officially expanded the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent category to include 200 earmarked visas for the tech sector. This is an exciting opportunity for leaders in the sector to come to the UK to work or start a business – and it could be right for you.
Here below, Leslie Sarma from Penningtons and TLA advocate for easier immigration processes, describes who is eligible and the application process to the UK Exceptional Talent visa. For more information and if you have questions, feel free to reach out to Leslie via migreat.com.
These visas are targeted at individuals with proven track records of achievement in the tech sector. If granted, holders of this visa will be able to come to the UK for an initial period of three years – they will not require sponsorship by an employer and they will not be required to meet a specific funding threshold to apply. In order to apply, individuals must first obtain an endorsement from Tech City UK, demonstrating that they meet the “exceptionally talented” threshold. If endorsed, they will then be able to make an application to the Home Office for entry clearance or leave to remain using that endorsement.
Step 1 – Endorsement from Tech City UK
The first step is applying for an endorsement from Tech City UK. The fee to apply for endorsement is 437 GBP; and that’s payable at the time you apply for the endorsement. In order to make this application, you’ll need to send specified documents to the Home Office so that they can be assessed by Tech City UK demonstrating that you are a world leader in your field and that you meet at least two of the qualifying criteria, which are:
- having led in the development of new or leading-edge technology;
- having had significant commercial success in the digital technology sector;
- having received or been nominated for a prestigious internationally recognised prize in the digital technology sector; and
- having been recognised as a world-leading talent in the digital technology sector.
Documents will include: a specified form, your CV and a letter of recommendation from a recognized UK expert in your field. You’ll also have to submit documents demonstrating which qualification criteria you meet, and how you meet them. There are specific requirements for these documents, so be sure to review the Tech City UK Eligibility and Assessment Criteria, which can be found here:
Please keep in mind that even though Tech City UK will be granting the endorsement, you must send the form and documents to the Home Office at the address provided. The Home Office will notify you by email if the endorsement has been granted.
Step 2 – Application for Entry Clearance or Leave to Remain
Once your endorsement has been granted, you can make the second stage application to the Home Office for your visa. There is a further fee of (in most cases) 437 GBP to complete this step. You may need to make this application from inside the UK or outside of the UK depending on where you live now and your current UK immigration status (if you already reside here). Once you have your endorsement, this stage of the process should take less than three weeks (although of course this can’t be guaranteed!)
The Tech London Advocates community is hugely excited about this opportunity for the sector and we encourage the best and the brightest from around the world to consider this option. We have listed the full benefits of applying to the visa this year in another blog post “what you can gain from applying to the new Exceptional Talent visa”.
The tech sector is growing fast in the UK – it is an incredibly exciting time to be here. Come join in and make your mark. Make the system work for you with the exceptional talent visa! And if it’s too confusing, too expensive, too slow – Let migreat.com know and they will work to assist you or put you in touch with experts who can help!
This guest blog post is provided to you by Leslie Sarma, Associate at Penningtons Manches LLP and co-chair of Tech London Advocates Talent and Immigration Working Group.