Tech City UK Blog

Based on direct feedback from the digital business community, today we’re pleased to unveil an evolution of the current Tier 1 Exceptional Talent scheme to help attract top tech talent to clusters across Tech Nation.

Today we announce the Tech Nation Visa Scheme, an evolution of the dedicated route for helping businesses operating within the digital technology sector to attract and secure world-class talent from outside the EU. Based on direct feedback from the digital business community, four new qualifying criteria have been added to ensure that the UK continues to maintain its position as a globally competitive digital powerhouse.






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 protected].

  • 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.


The Two Stage Application Process


Our CEO, Gerard Grech, said: “Fast-growing digital technology businesses play a central role in ensuring the UK stays at the forefront of digital innovation and economic growth on the world stage. Based on the feedback from the tech community, the new Tech Nation Visa Scheme will prove to be a vital tool for companies that want to secure the high calibre people they need to quickly scale their product, service and operations.”
Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey commented: “The Digital technology sector is a core building block of the Government’s plans to support an internationally competitive Northern Powerhouse as well as the UK’s leadership in digital innovation. Today’s announcement furthers that strategy. This new Visa Scheme will support fast growth digital businesses in their quest to bring the best and brightest to British shores as we continue to stake our claim as a Tech Nation on the global stage.”

Eileen Burbidge, Partner at Passion Capital and Chair of Tech City UK remarked: “Engaging with the digital business community to ensure the Government is offering practical support to accelerate company growth is what Tech City UK is about, and these revisions to the Visa programme address the highest priority for all company founders — that of growing and scaling a business with the best talent from around the world.”

Ben Medlock, co-founder and CTO of Future Fifty member company, Swiftkey, commented: “Our team in London speaks more than 30 languages, which is instrumental in our development and growth as a language technology company. Supporting skills and talents are needed to scale a company quickly and building the right team can make or break your business. Cutting down on the processing time of visa applications, prioritising certain sets of skills and adding a new provision for UK scale-ups are improvements that will make a huge difference for fast-growing digital companies. We welcome initiatives such as the Tech Nation Visa Scheme that aim to make it even easier to attract talent from overseas.”

Tech City UK is one of five Designated Competent Bodies appointed by the Home Office to review applications from individuals wishing to enter the country under Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa route. The organisation evaluates applications in the area of Digital Technology.

If you have any questions about the Tech Nation Visa Scheme, send us an email on: [email protected]