Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) applicants must receive an endorsement from the Designated Competent 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 potential leaders in the relevant field) or Exceptional Talent (for leaders in the relevant field) key and qualifying criteria. Carter Thomas associate Nick Gore explores this exciting UK immigration route.
Technical applicants must demonstrate proven technical expertise in building, using, deploying or exploiting a technology stack and building technical infrastructure.
Business applicants must demonstrate 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 one of the Key Criteria and at least two of the Qualifying Criteria. These are slightly different for both Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise.
The Key Criteria are:
- Have a proven track record of innovation [or provide more than one example of innovation for exceptional promise] in the digital technology sector as a director or founder of a digital technology company or an employee working in a new digital field or concept that must be clearly evidenced
- Proof of recognition for work outside your immediate occupation that has contributed to the advancement of the sector (e.g. evidence that you have gone beyond your day to day profession to engage in an activity that contributes to the advancement of the sector)
The Qualifying Criteria are:
- Have made significant technical, commercial, or entrepreneurial contributions in the digital technology sector as either a founder, entrepreneur or employee of a digital technology company
- Have been recognised as a leading talent [or ‘potential’ for exceptional promise] in the digital technology sector
- Have undergone continuous learning / mastery of new digital skills (commercial or technical) throughout your career
- Have demonstrated exceptional ability in the field [or provide two or more examples for exceptional promise] by making academic contributions through research published or otherwise endorsed by a research supervisor or other expert
On the face of it, some of the Qualifying Criteria (QC) are very similar to the Key Criteria (KC) such as KC1 and QC1 above. Some also look like they will be relatively straightforward to meet, such as QC3.
However, there are some important points to consider, as follows.
Qualifying Criteria 1 and Key Criteria 1
The updated Policy Guidance clarifies that:
the term ‘significant contribution’ in this criteria requires you to demonstrate impact, not necessarily innovation. This is different to Key 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.
Evidence that the applicant is a leader in the development of high-impact digital products or services should therefore meet the above requirement. This could be evidenced in sales, in users, in the effects of the product as reported by independent sources, etc.
KC1 refers to ‘a new digital field or concept’. This indicates that the original creation of products/services is required.
Qualifying Criteria 2 and Qualifying Criteria 4
QC2 and QC4 can also be considered as similar. One of the pieces of suggested evidence to use for QC2 is ‘published material in a professional or major trade publication’ and for QC4 is a ‘paper published in a top-tier peer-reviewed journal’. It can sometimes be difficult to discern what may be considered a trade publication and what is a peer-reviewed journal. If using these criteria together caution should be taken.
Qualifying Criteria 3
Many applicants choose to meet this requirement. Tech Nation have provided more information in their FAQs as to what QC3 requires:
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. For example, submitting evidence of attendance at seminars 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 up to each applicant to decide how best they can demonstrate this.
This can sometimes be quite difficult to evidence and some applicants may wish to request additional documents from course providers about the learning objectives of the course and supplement this with any evidence of their developed skill set.
How we can help
Applicants must also provide two letters of support from recognised experts that must meet certain criteria. We are experienced in preparing successful Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsement and immigration applications for individuals spanning a range of industries and sectors, including digital technology and science. We currently maintain a 100% success record for this route.
If you need further information about the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route, or any other UK immigration category, please contact us.