Tech Nation Visa
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for Digital Technology
What is the Tech Nation Visa Scheme?
The Tech Nation Visa Scheme makes it possible for tech talent from around the world to come and work in the UK’s digital technology sector, and is part of Tech City UK’s mission to ensure that the UK continues to maintain its position as a globally competitive digital economy.
Tech City UK is the designated competent body for digital technology and has the ability to endorse applications for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. If you receive an endorsement from Tech City UK, then you will be eligible to be to submit your Visa application to the Home Office.
Check your eligibility for the Tech Nation Visa Scheme by viewing our guidelines
The application process is in 2 stages
a) Endorsement stage – will take up to 8 weeks in total to be processed.
b) Visa application – This process can take up to 3 weeks out of country and 8 weeks in country.
3. Conditions of your visa
This visa can be granted for up to 5 years after which you will be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK.
£287* for stage 1 and £287* for stage 2.
*Please note that this does not include additional administrative costs such as your BRP enrolment fee and NHS surcharge.
Our Information Booklet
Tech Nation Visa update:
It has been great to see that our eligibility criteria changes, which went live on November 19 2015, have made such a positive impact. 231 applications have been received since then, with 157 of these having been endorsed so far.
Since the beginning of April 2016 we have received 149 applications, 95 of which have been endorsed with 105 endorsements still available until April 2017.
Further to the recent Immigration Rules changes, which came into force on April 6th:
- 100 endorsements between April and October 2016
- 100 endorsements between October 2016 and April 2017
The Tech Nation Visa Scheme: Online Application Form
Our application form for stage 1 endorsement is now online! This is the first step in making our visa applicants’ user journeys as simple and time efficient as possible before we are able to move the entire visa application process online.
Although, at this stage, you will still need to fill out the paper based Home Office application form and submit a paper application pack, this online platform allows you to upload your supporting documents, pause and resume your application, track its progress and monitor your application status all on one site. Check it out here:
The Two Stage Application Process
Stage 1: Application for Endorsement
This is your application for endorsement by Tech City UK, who will assess whether you qualify for this visa route. In order to apply you first need to download and complete this endorsement form from the Home Office, as well as the digital technology endorsement form, which can now be completed online.
You will then need to send the application pack in hard copy directly to the Home Office; instructions can be found directly on the form.
At this stage, you’ll have to wait to hear back directly from the Home Office on whether or not you have been endorsed by Tech City UK. This can take approximately 8 weeks.
Stage 2: Application For the Visa
If you have been endorsed, you are then able to apply for your visa . The documents you need are listed here.
If your application is not endorsed you have three options:
- Apply for a review (in which case we’ll reassess your application based on the submissions you provide on your review form) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-endorsement-for-tier-1-exceptional-talent-visa.
- Send a fresh application with new evidence
- Apply for a different visa route (please see the table below)
Check out some of our past applicant stories:
Keeley Bunting, Disney: http://www.techcityuk.com/blog/2016/04/tech-nation-visa-applicant-2/
Wenzhe Shi, Magic Pony Technology: http://www.techcityuk.com/blog/2016/04/tech-nation-visa-applicant/
Kyle Redelinghuys, Software Developer: https://ksred.me/post/tier-1-exceptional-talent-tech-city-uk/
Alice Shyy, Giggypop: http://www.techcityuk.com/blog/2016/08/tech-nation-visa-applicant-alice-shyy/
Nare Vardanyan, Mindbin: http://www.techcityuk.com/blog/2016/08/migration-startups-other-beasts/
Am I eligible to apply for the Tech Nation Visa?
Unfortunately, we are unable to notify applicants whether they are eligible for endorsement as it is usually takes our panel of experts several weeks and lots of detailed evidence to make that decision.
Specific requirements are listed here. If you think you are able to demonstrate that you meet the requirements and decide that you are eligible to apply, please apply via our website.
Please do not send your CV or credentials to Tech City UK ahead of applying as we will not be able to advise you about your eligibility.
What are my chances of being successful
It is difficult for us to assess your chances of success as your skills will be evaluated by our panel of experts once your application is submitted to the Home Office.
How long does it take to be endorsed?
It depends on your profile, but it can take up to 25 working days for Tech City UK to review your application. If you are eligible for one of the fast-track options, your application will be assessed in 18 working days.
Please note that the endorsement stage can take up to 8 weeks total taking into account Home Office administrative tasks.
Can Tech City UK advise me on my application prior to submission?
We are unable to review your documents prior to submission. Please ensure that you read the eligibility criteria document carefully. Sending your application to Tech City UK will not increase your chances of endorsement and may delay your application being processed.
How do I track the progress of my application?
Tech City UK is currently working to update the online system in order for applicants to be able to track when their application is received by Tech City UK from the Home Office.
Please note that applicants will not be notified when their application is received from the Home Office and they will only be able to track their application once it is being reviewed by Tech City.
All correspondence regarding your application will be processed through the Home Office. If you have any questions regarding your application please email ExceptionalTalentEnd@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk. Tech City UK is unable to give you an update on the progress of your application.
Where do I send my application?
All applications must be printed and sent to the Home Office by post to UK Visa & Immigration Home Office Tier 1 PO Box 496 Durham DH99 1WQ and by courier to: UK Visa & Immigration Home Office Tier 1 Wearside House Riverside Place Freemans Reach Durham DH1 1SL
Please ensure that your application pack includes a completed Home Office Endorsement Form along with your payment information.
Do I need a job offer to be eligible?
No, you don’t. You’ll have to have a concrete plan of what you’ll be doing once you are in the UK and how you’ll be participating to UK digital growth. You’ll have to provide a personal statement of up to 7000 characters in length explaining your plans, and this will play an important role in your application assessment.
What type of evidence should I submit to meet the mandatory and qualifying criteria?
You should ensure that you read through the eligibility criteria document before applying for your visa. It is up to you to determine which evidence you are able to provide that meets the criteria listed.
What types of recommendation letters should I provide?
There is no strict template available for letters of recommendation. Please do ensure that these are in line with the guidance and on letter headed paper where possible (although we do understand that this is sometimes not available).
Please ensure that these letters are as detailed as possible with regard to your skills / work and how you are known to the endorser. The more detail that is provided the better in determining why the endorsers believe you meet the criteria for Exceptional Talent / Promise.
What is the application process?
It’s great to hear you’re interested in applying for the Tech Nation visa. The application process is in 3 steps:
1) You apply to be endorsed by the relevant Designated Competent Body (for the digital technology sector this is Tech City UK). You will need to fill this form online as well as our Tech City UK application form. You’ll also have to provide various pieces of evidence as described at the bottom of this page. This stage costs £287.
2) Our experts review your application and decide whether or not it meets the criteria (listed here). If it does, we decide to endorse it. If your application doesn’t meet the criteria, you can put in a request for a review, which means we have to reconsider the application. If we then decide we still can’t endorse your application, this is the end of the process – you can apply to another visa route.
3) If your application meets the criteria and we decide to endorse it, you then still have to apply for the visa – we have no influence on this stage of the process. This costs up to £567 depending on your circumstances.
This visa lasts 5 years if you apply from within the UK, and 5 years and 4 months if you apply from outside the UK.
It takes up to 25 working days to hear back about your endorsement, and anywhere between 3 and 12 weeks to hear back about the actual visa application.
I hope this is helpful, you can find more information on this visa route on the website.
What if I don’t meet the requirements?
If you don’t meet the requirements please don’t worry as there are other visa routes to explore! If you would like to start your own company, you can apply for the Entrepreneur visa. If you’d like to work in a tech company, you can apply for the Tier 2 General visa. All work visas are listed on this page.
How does the new eligibility criteria help me?
Since Tech City UK became one of the Designated Competent Bodies (DCB) to the Home Office for this route in 2014, we have worked with the digital business community to ensure that this visa route reflects the needs of the sector. As a result, the following options were added to the eligibility criteria for candidates to ensure that the UK continues to maintain its position as a globally competitive digital economy.
Fast Track options
In addition to meeting the mandatory and qualifying criteria for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa applicants can now benefit from new criteria, which have come into force and allow for applications to be fast-tracked. In order for applicants to benefit from these options they will need to tick the relevant box on the application form.
Tech City UK will aim to provide a decision for endorsement within 18 days to the Home Office. The fast track route will apply in the following circumstances:
- Empowering the North
You intend to make a contribution in the North of the UK (i.e. plan to work in or set up a company in one of Tech North’s seven cities: Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland or the surrounding regions). For applicants intending to work in the North, Tech City UK will work with the Tech North team to fast track the endorsement review process.
Companies in the North looking to recruit highly skilled individuals from outside the EU should make their initial enquiry via email, at email@example.com.
- Building UK Scale ups
You have the business or technical skills to scale businesses that are most needed in the UK technology sector. Whether it’s expertise in taking a company IPO, or individuals with very specific technical knowledge, such as development operations and cyber security, the Tech Nation Visa Scheme will provide a scale-up fast-track route that will enable rapidly growing companies to access the right talent at the right time to smooth their path to success. More information on the specific skills required.
- Recruiting Teams from Overseas
You and your team of up to five individuals want to relocate to the UK. This allows for digital businesses to recruit entire teams of exceptional individuals from outside the EU who have demonstrated success. Each team member will be individually assessed and must qualify in his or hers own right. Eligibility includes but is not limited to existing teams within an international company, which have been acquired by a UK business. This is one way for UK digital businesses to attract high calibre and high performing teams that have a proven track record of creativity, collaboration and commercial vision.
Exceptional Promise Option
In line with the other Designated Competent Bodies, Tech City UK has endeavoured to open its visa scheme to applicants showing “Exceptional Promise” and are able to demonstrate the potential to become ‘world leaders in their field.’ Although Tech City UK still have a single set of criteria that covers all applicants, the provision for Exceptional Promise will facilitate companies in recruiting the highly skilled individuals needed to fill specific talent gaps. Please note that Tech City UK experts will use their technical know-how to establish whether you meet the necessary criteria to be endorsed for Exceptional Talent or for Exceptional Promise.
What if I’m not eligible?
If you’re not eligible for the Tech Nation Visa Scheme (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent), there may still be other visa routes to choose from that might be more relevant to your experience and talents. Check the table below to find out which routes are available to you.
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