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 potential leaders in the relevant field) or exceptional talent (for leaders in the relevant field) key and qualifying criteria. We explore this exciting UK immigration route.
Tech experts can apply under the Tech Nation Global Talent route as a ‘technical’ or 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 two of the following:
- a proven track record for innovation if applying under exceptional talent, or at least two examples of innovation if applying under exceptional promise, as a founder or senior executive of a product-led digital technology company or as an employee working on a new digital field or concept
- proof of recognition for work beyond the applicant’s occupation that contributes to the advancement of the field;
- have made significant technical, commercial or entrepreneurial contributions to the field as a founder, employee, or senior executive if applying under exceptional talent, of a product-led digital technology company; or
- they have demonstrated exceptional ability if applying under exceptional talent, or two examples if applying under exceptional promise, in the field by academic contributions, through research published or endorsed by an expert.
The recent changes to the Immigration Rules make this route more difficult than previously. The requirement to provide recognition of work beyond the applicant’s occupation that contributes to the advancement of the field could previously have been used instead of demonstrating a track record or examples of innovation. Now instead innovation must always be demonstrated as part of this application.
Similarly, there used to be an optional requirement to demonstrate ‘continuous learning’ which was relatively straightforward to meet. This has now been removed.
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;
- 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, employment contracts should be provided, and ideally there should be evidence of further recognition from within the sector, such as media recognition.
Innovation and significant contribution
On the face of it, the requirement to a prove a track record or examples of innovation is quite similar to the requirement to demonstrate a significant contribution.
The updated guidance clarifies that:
‘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 innovation as an employee requires evidence of ‘a new digital field or concept’. This indicates that the creation of original products/services is required, and evidence of patents is usually the strongest evidence. If applying as a founder or senior executive the applicant can rely on a significant product-led digital technology business they have established which is currently active or has been dissolved in the last five years. Evidence of sales, revenue and the company accounts should in general be provided.
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.
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.
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’. Documents to demonstrate this should detail the publication details of the articles as well as letters of support from academics supporting the application.
This article was originally posted on 18 June 2019 and has been updated to reflect changes in policy.
How we can help
Applicants must also provide three letters of support from recognised experts that must meet certain criteria. We are experienced in preparing successful Global Talent endorsement and immigration applications for individuals spanning a range of industries and sectors, including digital technology and science.
If you need further information about the Global Talent route, or any other UK immigration category, please contact us.