Are you eligible for the new Tier 1 Exceptional Talent UK visa?

In a previous post, we announced the availability of 200 visas for talented individuals in the tech sector to come to the UK, in a category known as Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) for tech. These visas are granted by the Home Office to applicants who have been endorsed by Tech City UK as world leaders in their field and will allow holders to initially enter or remain in the UK for a period of three years to pursue their work. Holders of this visa can be self-employed, work for a company or even start their own business – it’s a great fit for the fast paced tech sector.

In this post, we will look at the criteria for endorsement for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa by Tech City UK. Can you meet these criteria? If so, this could be your route to a career here in the UK.

Qualification One – Do you have a proven track record of innovation in the digital technology sector?

In order to meet this threshold, you will have to demonstrate your success in your chosen field of technology. This success can come as a director or founder of a tech sector company; or as an employee of a tech sector company. If you’re demonstrating your track record as an employee, you’ll need to show that you have a distinguished reputation in your field and/or that you’re an executive level employee holding shares in the business.

Take note that there is no requirement that the company you started or worked for be a certain size or profitability level – startups are not excluded! If you can show that you’ve got high level experience and a strong reputation in your area, then you may meet this requirement.

Business man using tablet PC

Qualification Two – Can you provide a letter of recommendation from a recognised UK expert who is familiar with your work and contributions to your field?

Every application for endorsement must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a UK based expert who is qualified to support your claim to be a world leader in your field. This expert should be a senior member of an established organisation with a national or international reputation for expertise in your field.

There is no specific list of acceptable organisations or individuals from which to get your recommendation letter – use your networks to find the right organisations and get advice.

Qualification Three – Do you meet at least two of the qualifying endorsement criteria?

Finally, all applicants for endorsement must demonstrate that they meet at least two of the following four criteria:

  • 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.

There is no set list of evidence to be provided to prove that you meet these criteria, but examples could include:

  • evidence of awards, speaking engagements or authorships;
  • proof of technical contributions such as maintenance of an open source project, demonstration of product or application development or evidence of contribution to patents; and/or
  • evidence of any active (or recently dissolved) digital technology businesses you have established outside of the UK.
Photo Credit: Bloomberg

There is no hard and fast list of evidence to be provided and it will ultimately be up to Tech City UK to determine whether the evidence you have provided meets the criteria. More examples and guidance can be found in Tech City UK’s Eligibility and Assessment Criteria, which can be found here:

And keep in mind that once you are endorsed by Tech City UK, you will need to make a further application to the Home Office for your visa to come to the UK in line with this endorsement. Obtaining the endorsement does not guarantee this application will be successful, particularly if you have an adverse immigration or criminal history.



Could Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) be right for you?

Since its inception in April 2014, there have been very few applications for endorsement in this category – visas are available! To know the full advantage of applying to the visa, we have listed them in a blog post titled UK Exceptional Talent visa: what do you have to gain from applying to it?The Tech London Advocates community is terrifically excited about this opportunity and encourages the best and brightest from around the world to consider this avenue to come to the UK. The tech sector is rife with opportunity in the UK – come join us!

If you want more information on how to apply for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa, you can ask our experts online on

leslie-sarmaThis 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.

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