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.
For more information, check out our brochure for the Tech Nation Visa below:
Check your eligibility for the Tech Nation Visa Scheme by viewing our guidelines.
The application process is in 2 stages:
- Endorsement stage – will take up to 8 weeks in total to be processed.
- 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.
£292* for stage 1 and £293* for stage 2.
*Please note that this does not include additional administrative costs such as your BRP enrolment fee and NHS surcharge.
Tech Nation Visa update:
It has been great to see the growing success of the Tech Nation Visa scheme. We have seen a ten times increase in the number of applications received in 2016, compared with 2015.
The Home Office now has 200 visas to issue in the financial year starting from April 6th 2017.
The 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 complete the Home Office application for endorsement, either offline or online, as well as the Tech Nation Visa application form, which you will need to print and include with your application.
You will then need to send the application pack, including your supporting evidence, in hard copy directly to the Home Office; postal addresses can be found on the Home Office website or in the FAQs below.
At this stage, you’ll have to wait to hear back directly from the Home Office on whether you have been endorsed by Tech City UK. This can take approximately 8 weeks.
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 to the Home Office via your review form)
- Send a fresh application with new evidence Apply for a different visa route.
Stage 2: Application for the Visa
If you have been endorsed, you are then able to apply for your Tier 1 visa. The documents you need are listed here.
You can apply for a visa duration up to a maximum of 5 years and 4 months if you apply outside the UK or 5 years if you apply inside the UK.
Hear from past applicants:
Why did you choose the UK?
What advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
How did you find the application process?
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?
As each application for endorsement is assessed by an independent panel of experts, Tech City UK unfortunately cannot advise on the eligibility of individual applicants or the likelihood of their endorsement.
We invite potential candidates to refer to the guidelines for the Tech Nation Visa, in particular the section on endorsement criteria, and consider whether and how they meet this criteria.
Unfortunately we cannot provide advice beyond that contained in this document.
Is this visa right for me?
Each potential applicant is best placed to assess whether the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is right for them, dependant on their circumstances. Unfortunately Tech City UK cannot advise on the suitability of the Tech Nation Visa to individual applicants’ circumstances beyond that contained in the guidelines available here.
Please note that other visa options exist in addition to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, with more information available on the Home Office website here.
What is the application process?
A full overview of the application process can be found on page three of the guidelines for the Tech Nation Visa. Further information, including information on cost, can be found on the Home Office website.
Do I need a job offer to be eligible?
No, you don’t. However, you will need to include a concrete plan of what you’ll be doing once you are in the UK and how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy.
As part of your application form, you will be asked to submit a personal statement of up to 7000 characters in length which can include details on how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy, and this will play an important role in the assessment of your application.
I am currently in the UK on a different visa, can I switch to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa?
You can apply to switch to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you are already in the UK on Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 5 (Temporary worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa.
All information on switching to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa can be found on the Home Office website.
How long does it take to be endorsed?
The Home Office advises that Stage 1 of the application process (i.e. the application to be endorsed) for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa can take up to eight weeks from the time the Home Office receives your application.
Within these eight weeks, Tech City UK has up to 25 working days to review your application. For applications eligible for one of the three fast track options, Tech City UK will make a recommendation on endorsement to the Home Office within 18 working days.
Please note that, if endorsed, Stage 2 of the application process for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa (i.e. the application for the visa itself) will still need to be completed. The Home Office advises that Stage 2 of the application process can take around three weeks if applying from outside of the UK, and around five weeks if applying from within the UK.
What is Exceptional Promise?
The Exceptional Promise route is intended for applicants who are able to demonstrate the potential to become a world leader in the field of digital technology.
Applicants who choose to apply via this route are often individuals who are at the start of their careers in digital technology, and so may not have the same levels of experience as someone who applies under the Exceptional Talent option.
Exceptional Promise applicants will need to demonstrate the potential to be a world leader in digital technology through their skills and/or achievements thus far.
Please note that Tech City UK cannot advise potential applicants on whether they should apply for the Tech Nation Visa via the Exceptional Promise or Exceptional Talent option.
Can I be endorsed for Exceptional Promise if I apply to the Tech Nation Visa via the Exceptional Talent route?
Applying for endorsement via Exceptional Talent does not preclude you from endorsement under Exceptional Promise should you meet the necessary criteria; likewise, applying under the Exceptional Promise route does not preclude you from endorsement for Exceptional Talent.
In all cases, Tech City UK experts will establish whether you meet the necessary criteria to be endorsed for Exceptional Talent or for Exceptional Promise.
This being said, applicants explicitly applying under the Exceptional Promise route should indicate that they are doing so by ticking the relevant box on the application form and providing additional explanation in the available field.
Can Tech City UK advise me on my application or my supporting documents 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 before submission will not increase your chances of endorsement and may delay your application being processed.
What type of evidence should I submit to meet the mandatory and qualifying criteria?
Please refer to Annex B of the Tech Nation Visa guidance for examples of the types of supporting documents that can be included as evidence as part of your application. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and that you are free to provide documentation which is not listed if you feel it is better suited.
Tech City UK is unable to advise on the suitability of applicants’ supporting documents ahead of their application being submitted for review. Individual applicants are best placed to identify which documentation demonstrates their skills in the best possible way.
What types of recommendation letters should I provide?
Please refer to Annex A of the Tech Nation Visa guidelines of the guidelines for more information on what to include in the letters of recommendation. Note that this is a suggested format and there is no strict template Please ensure that these are in line with the guidance and on letter headed paper where possible (although we understand that this is sometimes not an option).
Please ensure that these letters are as detailed as possible with regard to your skills / work and how you are known to your referee. The more detail that is provided the better in determining why your referees believe you meet the criteria for Exceptional Talent / Promise.
How do I demonstrate continuous learning?
The continuous learning criteria is less about the workshops and seminars you have attended and more about the types of skills that you have developed through courses or programmes you have undertaken. Submitting evidence of attendance at seminars etc. can be fine, but you would be required to also demonstrate what you have learned and how you have developed your skill set as well. It is very much up to each applicant how they show this.
Where do I send my application?
To submit your application, you will need to complete a Home Office Application For Endorsement For Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) form, available from the Home Office website. This can be done either online or by post, with more information on each option available on this page under the heading ‘How to get endorsed’.
Payment should be made to the Home Office, and more information on this can be found via the link to the Home Office website above.
Once you have completed this separate application, you should print and post your Tech Nation Visa application, your supporting documents, and, if completed by post, your Home Office Application for Endorsement, to one of the following addresses:
If Home Office application is completed online:
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, Sheffield PO Box 3468 S3 8WA
If Home Office application is completed by post:
By post: UK Visa & Immigration Home Office Tier 1 PO Box 496 Durham DH99 1WQ
By courier: UK Visa & Immigration Home Office Tier 1 Wearside House Riverside Place Freemans Reach Durham DH1 1SL
How do I track the progress of my application?
You will receive an update from the Home Office on when your payment has been processed and again when your application has been passed onto Tech City UK. Tech City UK will not provide you with an update directly as all correspondence should go via the Home Office.
For queries relating to the Home Office’s processing of applications, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I don’t meet the requirements?
If you don’t meet the requirements for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa then there are other visa routes available. 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.
Does the Tech Nation Visa have any restrictions based on nationality?
There are no nationality-based restrictions for the Tech Nation Visa, which is open to all non-EEA citizens.
In addition, Croatian citizens can currently apply for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. More information is available here.
I have a legal question, can you put me in touch with a lawyer?
Tech City UK has legal partners who know the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa very well. To be put in touch, please contact us via email.
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