This article was originally posted on the Tech City UK website.

On April 21st we hosted an event at the Digital Catapult featuring some of the past applicants and programme partners of the Tech Nation Visa Scheme. Here are some of the key takeaways from the event

The audience welcomed a great range of speakers who have first hand knowledge of how the programme works and information that potential applicants need to know. Panellists then took questions from the audience on the various ways they’ve interacted with it. Speakers:

Shannon Maher – Ex-CTO Guardian, Founder, Progrexion (past applicant)

Elizabeth Linder – Government/Politics Specialist, Facebook (past applicant)

Ian Robinson – Senior Manager, Fragomen (programme partner)

Sian Keane – VP of Talent, Farfetch

Anna Middleton, Executive Officer – Migration Policy, Home Office


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Here’s a brief summary of some of the key questions asked and the answers to them:

Can you clarify the difference between exceptional talent and exceptional promise?


All applicants will be reviewed under the same criteria whether they are endorsed for Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise. Exceptional Promise candidates will qualify under this route on the basis that they can demonstrate the potential to become world leader in digital technology but have not quite gotten there yet. Exceptional Promise candidates will still need to provide evidence to meet one mandatory and two qualifying criteria.

Is it possible to apply for both stages together?

It is possible to apply for both stages at once. Please click here for more information:

How can rapidly scaling companies best prepare to bring in foreign talent in future when they can’t always anticipate their hiring needs?

Companies should do their best to familiarise themselves with the immigration options in advance. They can seek legal advice about the best way to do this. Companies can apply for a sponsor licence and do some research into the Tech Nation Visa scheme ahead of time to see if the people they need to recruit can be brought in via these routes.

In terms of the endorsement letter, how is “tech expert/firm” defined?

Tech expert is defined a senior member of an organisation (eg. tech company, university, corporation) that has worked with or can vouch for the applicant. Agencies can qualify if the person in question is at a senior level and has enough of a relationship with the applicant to endorse them.

Is this open for “non tech” roles at tech innovation companies besides business executives?

Yes  – this route is open to all roles within the tech space even besides executives. Applicants will however need to work in a role that is either directly or indirectly related to the digital technology sector and will need to meet the eligibility criteria for endorsement.



What if we apply for Tech North endorsement, will application be judged by Tech North or Tech City UK?

Tech North is a sister organisation of Tech City UK and we work very closely on this initiative. All applications must be sent to the Home Office which then sends these on to Tech City UK for review.

How many Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa are issued per year? How many via Tech Nation?

The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) route has 1,000 allocated endorsements between the five designated bodies. Tech City UK has 200 per year allocated endorsements.

Where do applicants tend to fall?

Applicants tend to not submit enough varied evidence to demonstrate they meet the criteria. Applications sometimes consist of only letters of recommendation which do not hold a lot of weight when not combined with other forms of documentation.

Is this a process that is better managed with the help of an immigration lawyer or reasonable enough that an applicant can do it themselves?

Applicants will not necessarily need an immigration lawyer for the application process itself. However, it may be helpful to seek legal advice if they are unsure what route is best for them and whether they can qualify under this visa route. If you need legal advice please refer to our legal partners on our website.


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