This is a guest post from Kingsley Napley. Kingsley Napley is a partner of the Tech Nation Visa.
It is a common misconception that the Tech Nation Visa for Exceptional Talent is exclusively aimed at software developers. In fact, the tech industry relies on a broad range of expertise to fuel its accelerated growth, and Tech Nation recognises that maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of the global digital economy requires a diverse mix of skill sets.
The variety of demand for specialist skill in tech businesses is reflected in the makeup of successfully endorsed visa applicants. 24% of Tech Nation visa endorsements go to business development talent, while 7% go to marketing professionals. 16% of applications are endorsed for those working in product management, and 5% for operations. The key is that the applicants are exceptionally talented (have a proven track record of innovation in the digital technology sector) or show exceptional promise (can provide more than one example of innovation in the digital technology sector), regardless of their role.
The UK’s exceptional talent visa for digital technology, the first tech visa of its kind in the world, offers an unparalleled level of flexibility to digital tech experts and future leaders looking to base themselves in the UK. It allows successful applicants to work as an employee, establish their own business or a mix of the two, without the need to be sponsored by an employer. With the visa lasting for up to 5 years and 4 months, residents can also apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain once their visa is up.
While the UK is keen to attract those with technical expertise – 35% of endorsed visas are in software engineering and 14% in data science – there is also a recognition of the value of attracting people with unique perspectives or experience in mature and emerging markets, to the further growth of the UK’s thriving tech sector.
It can be critical to a high-growth tech company that they have access to ‘business’ talent with experience of successfully scaling a tech company internationally. A UX Designer, Product Manager or experienced CFO might be just as crucial to a tech company’s success as full-stack developers.
Tech Nation’s criteria is specifically designed to attract those with technical skills or business skills, and a non-exhaustive list is provided of the sort of skills that eligible applicants might possess. This list can be a useful jumping off point for potential applicants unsure as to whether they have the sort of skills which make them good candidates for a Tech Nation endorsement.
The supporting evidence an applicant should compile as part of their endorsement application should show they meet at least one key and two qualifying criteria. Crucially these criteria recognise commercial and entrepreneurial contributions as well as technical ones. And the evidence required is broad enough to allow those with a variety of backgrounds to showcase their expertise in an endorsement application. This could include evidence of experience expanding or growing a significant product-led digital technology business, SaaS or enterprise sales leadership for digital services or sector-specific experience such as payment infrastructure in FinTech to name a few examples.
For the UK tech sector to continue to thrive in a post-Brexit world, it will be crucial for us to leverage pre-existing expertise, nascent industry experience and to attract exceptionally talented individuals with product and vertical-specific knowledge, that might not yet be available in the UK. If you have non-technical expertise within the digital technology sector and are looking to move to the UK, we would strongly recommend considering this very attractive visa category.
Photo of Tech Nation Visa Alumni Network meetup: Jessica Mendoza, Tech Nation Visa alumna