Global Talent applicants must receive an endorsement from the Endorsing Body in their field of expertise. For experts applying under the UK’s Tech scheme, Tech Nation must be satisfied that applicants meet the exceptional promise (for emerging leaders in the relevant field) or exceptional talent (for leaders in the relevant field) mandatory and optional criteria. We explore this exciting UK immigration route.
The Global Talent visa (previously Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa)
The Global Talent route is for those who are highly skilled in the fields of humanities and science, the arts, architecture, fashion and other arts. Successful applicants can be granted leave in the UK for up to five years.
As part of this route, unless they have an eligible prize, applicants must receive an endorsement from the relevant body in their field. This must confirm that they meet the Exceptional Promise criteria (for potential leaders in the relevant field) or Exceptional Talent criteria (for leaders in the relevant field). Applicants must make an application and provide evidence of their expertise. If the Endorsing Body provides an endorsement, the applicant can then go on to make the stage 2 immigration application.
Tech experts can apply under the relevant Endorsing Body of Tech Nation. Applicants can apply as a ‘technical’ or as a ‘business’ applicant. The Tech Nation guidance sets out that:
Technical applicants must demonstrate proven technical expertise with the latest technologies in building, using, deploying or exploiting a technology stack and building technical infrastructure.
Business applicants must demonstrate a proven commercial, investment, or product expertise in building digital products or leading investments in significant digital product businesses.
Applicants can have a combination of both technical and business skills. However, only a limited number of documents can be provided as evidence and there is limited space in the application for an explanation of an applicant’s career. Care should therefore be taken to select the most suitable information for inclusion.
Requirements to be met
Applicants must meet the following requirements, which vary depending on whether the applicant is meeting the exceptional talent or exceptional promise route:
- show that they have been recognised as a leading talent in the digital technology sector if applying under the exceptional talent route, or show they have been recognised as having potential to be a leading talent in the digital technology field if applying under the exceptional promise route; and
- provide evidence of only two of the following:
- a proven track record for innovation as a founder or senior executive of a product-led digital technology company if applying under exceptional talent, or providing at least one example of innovation as an employee of a product-led digital technology working in a new digital field or concept, if applying under exceptional promise;
- proof of recognition for work beyond the applicant’s occupation that contributes to the advancement of the field;
- making significant technical, commercial or entrepreneurial contributions to the field as a founder or employee, or as a senior executive or board member if applying under exceptional talent, of a product-led digital technology company; or
- exceptional ability, if applying under exceptional talent, or one example if applying under exceptional promise, in the field by academic contributions, through research published or endorsed by an expert.
Leading talent or potential to be a leading talent in the field
This requirement can be difficult to meet, and the guidance sets out that:
A ‘leader’ of exceptional talent (or promise) must show extraordinary ability by sustained (or emerging) national or international recognition. The individual will be able to demonstrate a level of expertise (or emerging expertise) which places them at the forefront of their respective field in the digital technology sector.
Evidence that demonstrates this requirement should have occurred in the past five years. The guidance sets out some examples of how to meet this requirement:
- You led the growth of a product-led digital technology company or product, product or team inside a digital technology company;
- You led the marketing or business development at a product-led digital technology company, demonstrably enabling substantial revenue and/or customer growth or major commercial success;
- You led the growth of a non-profit organisation or social enterprise with a specific focus on the digital technology sector;
- Outside of your normal day-to-day job role, you led or were a significant contributor to a substantial open source project;
- Outside of your normal day-to-day job role, you established, led or were a senior contributor to a large technology-led industry initiative;
- You have received nationally or internationally recognised prizes or awards for excellence specifically in the digital technology sector;
- You have evidence of speaking at high-profile digital technology sector events, or specialist events for your particular field in the digital technology sector;
- Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the applicant related to the applicant’s work in the digital technology sector;
- You command a high salary or other remuneration for your services; or
- You have held or hold a significant expert role participating on panels, or individually, assessing the work of others in the same field or a field of specialisation related to the digital technology sector.
In many cases a letter from a leading industry expert is required and this should be separate from the letters of recommendation and should be provided by someone other than a colleague, friend or manager. If relying on a high salaried role, an employment contract should be provided, and ideally there should be evidence of further recognition from within the sector, such as media recognition.
Evidence of any genuine and significant product-led digital technology businesses that the applicant has established as a founder or senior executive, either active or dissolved in the last five years, should be provided to meet this criteria. The documents to provide can include evidence of product development, domestic and international sales, revenue as well as audited accounts.
If relying on evidence as an employee working in a new digital field or concept, this requirement can be more difficult to meet, and evidence of a patent application (which should be a verifiable ID on Google Patents).
Work that advances the field
Evidence of work that advances the field is often a popular option to use for applicants. The work should be outside the applicant’s usual field and evidence can include mentorship schemes, lecturing and teaching, and contributory projects. The documents which demonstrate this should be extensive, such as letters from institutions where the teaching took place detailing the subject and impact of the teaching.
Recent changes to the guidance means that the evidence to provide regarding ‘mentorship’ is much more specific, and applicants should be able to evidence that they mentored as part of a structured programme with a selection criteria.
On the face of it, the requirement for a proven track record or examples of innovation is quite similar to the requirement to demonstrate a significant contribution. The guidance clarifies that:
The term ‘significant contribution’ in this criteria requires you to demonstrate impact, not necessarily innovation. This is different from Optional Criteria 1 where you are required to demonstrate high levels of innovation, not necessarily impact. If these are your chosen criteria then your evidence should clearly demonstrate this differentiation. Submitting the same evidence for both criteria may not be sufficient if it does not meet these different requirements..
If relying on both of these criteria care should be taken and the evidence should ideally be from two different examples.
Evidence of significant impact can be demonstrated on the basis of technical or business ability. If applying as a technical applicant, evidence of leading in the development of high-impact digital products or services, starting or contributing to open source projects or evidence of working as a key engineer in the core product of a start-up should be provided. If applying as a business applicant, evidence of having played a key role in the growth of a product-led digital technology company, or evidence of having founded a successful product-led digital technology company or other organisation should be provided.
Academic contributions are not specifically defined and can include ‘evidence of at least one significant contribution to the field in the form of a paper published in a top-tier peer-reviewed journal’ as well as ‘evidence of a merit based award that has been granted by an organisation of a similar standing and distinction to the Royal Society in the UK, as well as the selection criteria for this award.’
Documents to demonstrate this should include the publication details of the articles, evidence of the award as well as letters of support from academics supporting the application.
The Global Talent route: How our immigration solicitors can help
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This article was originally published in May 2019 and has been updated. It is accurate as of the new date of publication shown.