Tech City UK Blog

We get asked a lot about visas and rightly so — understanding the visa landscape can be complex. Several routes exist depending on your circumstances. Here’s a quick overview of some of them:

For guidance on all alternative routes, take a look at the Work Visa Directory.

Alongside the above routes sits the Exceptional Tech Talent Visa. In April 2014, Tech City UK became a Designated Competent Body (DCB) to the Home Office on applications for the route, a dedicated fast track initiative to attract talented individuals from outside the EU.

The Exceptional Tech Talent Visa: Here are the Facts

We are one of a number of bodies who have been granted the status of DCB. Others include:


What’s the purpose and who’s eligible?

The primary purpose of this visa is to attract applicants from outside the EU that demonstrate world-class aptitude in turn ensuring the UK digital economy remains a globally competitive powerhouse. And when we say world-class, we mean it. In the same way it’s about prima ballerinas, or Academy Award winners for the Arts Council, it’s about entrepreneurial rock stars, unicorn builders, or the next Steve Jobs for us.

With nine individuals accepted since launch, we have the capacity to endorse 200 applications. The figure of 200 is not a goal, but a threshold. We are only endorsing individuals that we think have the potential to making a lasting impact on the UK’s thriving digital ecosystem.

There is a two-stage process to this route, both via the Home Office:

  1. You’ll need to get endorsement from a Designated Competent Body: you should download and fill this endorsement form, and the form relative to your field of expertise, in this case the digital technology endorsement form.
  2. Once you’ve received endorsement, you will need to follow the application process. All the documents you need for that process are listed here.

The specific and exceptional requirements of applicants are described here.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent body that specialises in assessing visa types and routes, announced a review of the entrepreneur routes, to ensure it was working effectively and in our national economic interest. The MAC is currently seeking evidence and insights from the community to inform the review. The Call for Evidence is available here.

Clearly, the digital economy also needs coders, business builders and product developers to grow. At Tech City UK, we want to strike a balance between attracting international talent and tackling the skills gap head on here at home. This can be a tricky road to navigate but we aim to address these issues head on. Just last week we expanded the Digital Business Academy, which offers free online courses for anyone who wants to start, run, or join a digital business. The flagship programme, which was launched last November, has seen course completion rates of up to four times the industry average.

If you have any advise or feedback for Tech City UK on how the visa process or our programmes can be more responsive to your business needs, please get in touch.