Tech City UK has recently unveiled the Tech Nation Visa Scheme to bring more flexibility to the Tier 1 Exceptional talent visa route and attract more world class digital talent to the UK.
The Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa was introduced in 2014 to attract exceptionally talented individuals from a number of fields, including technology. The process to obtain an exceptional talent visa in any field consists of two stages: obtaining an endorsement from a designated competent body and a subsequent visa application on the basis of the received endorsement. Tech City, as the designated body for the technology sector, has 200 endorsements to grant each year. However, since its introduction the visa has failed to attract digital talent to the UK in the numbers hoped for. This year Tech City received only 19 applications for endorsement out of which 17 were approved.
Feedback from tech companies prompted the government to review the exceptional talent criteria in an attempt to attract more applicants. This has resulted in the Tech Nation Visa Scheme, which is due to be introduced in November 2015. It constitutes a slight relaxing of the existing rules.
Under the new rules:
- Four new qualifying criteria will be added.
- There will be a fast-track route for tech workers required by rapidly growing companies.
- A new ‘exceptional promise’ category will be introduced.
- Applications to work in the seven cities included in the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative will be considered on a fast-track basis.
- Applicants will have an option to apply as a group of up to 5. This has been introduced to attract high calibre teams that have a proven track record of creativity and collaboration.
It remains to be seen whether this relaxation of the rules will attract more applicants from the digital technology field to the UK. We will keep an eye on this topic and provide further updates in due course.