The UK’s tech sector is buzzing and recent reports suggest that the capital’s economy alone will benefit to the tune of £12 billion over the next 10 years.
The signs are also positive for many of the UK’s smaller emerging tech hotspots, from Manchester to Sheffield and beyond, and even the Government has recognised that the UK’s notoriously pedantic visa system must help, rather than hinder, these exciting developments.
In April 2014 the government widened the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route to include applications from digital technology experts.
Individuals who meet the criteria are able to enter the UK and take up work on an employed or self-employed basis. The category can lead to settlement (after five years) and British citizenship (after six years) and, other than demonstrating their expertise in this area, there are few other legal hurdles for applicants to cross.
Many of the UK’s universities are also at the forefront of new technological advances and our clients in both the tech and education sectors are exploring the exceptional talent scheme in general more regularly. We have also found that UKVI is, on the whole, willing to be flexible and helpful and the last Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) application we filed to enable a leading UK university to recruit a world-leading professor took only a week to be processed.
Who can use the tech sector scheme?
The scheme has been designed to enable easier entry into the UK for individuals who are considered to be world-leading experts within the digital and tech industry.
Successful applicants will be entrepreneurs or employees who have, for instance, been published, exhibited internationally and/or established a business or businesses.
Applicants must have a proven track record of innovation in the digital technology sector as either:
- a director or founder of a digital technology sector company; or
- an employee within the digital technology sector.
Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they meet at least two of the following criteria:
- Have led in the development of new or leading-edge technology.
- Have had significant commercial success in the digital technology sector.
- Have received or been nominated for a prestigious internationally recognised prize in the digital technology sector.
- Have been recognised as a world leading talent in the digital technology sector.
Applicants must satisfy Tech City UK, a government organisation launched in 2010 to support the growth of the UK’s technology sector, that they are suitable for endorsement under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) scheme.
Tech City UK will then provide the Home Office with an assessment of whether an applicant meets the criteria and the Home Office will make the final decision as to whether or not entry under the route will be granted. Applicants are subject to the usual character checks.
What evidence is needed?
Applicants must submit no more than ten documents in total to satisfy both the mandatory criteria and two or more of the qualifying criteria, including a letter of recommendation from a recognised UK based expert who is familiar with their work.
It can be time-consuming to collate all the evidence and we therefore recommend that applicants start that process as soon as possible.
What’s the time-frame?
Typically stage one takes around 3 weeks and stage two may take from 1 – 8 weeks depending on where the application is filed.
What are the other options for tech experts?
A number of options exist for those who do not meet the requirements of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent scheme) and these include:
- Tier 1 (Entrepreneur)
- Tier 2
- Tier 5 (for those coming to the UK for up to 12 or 24 months for training, exchange or research purposes).
How can we help?
Our role is to ensure that leading experts can enter the UK with minimum disruption from the visa system and we work with universities and businesses, including numerous tech companies, on a daily basis.
We are excited by the growth of the UK’s tech sector and use many new and cutting-edge technologies ourselves. If you’re exploring immigration options and need a helping hand please do feel free to contact us for a chat.