Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa for Digital Technology

Visa for exceptional international tech talent

What is the Tech Nation Visa?

The Tech Nation Visa enables the brightest and best tech talent from around the world to come and work in the UK’s digital technology sector, contributing their cutting-edge expertise, creativity and innovation to maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of the global digital economy.

Tech Nation has been designated by the Home Office to endorse applications for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in digital technology. If you're exceptionally talented or show exceptional promise and want to work in the UK’s digital technology sector, the Tech Nation Visa can help you do this.

Tech Nation Visa in numbers

900+Total number of applicants
500+Total number of visas endorsed
50+Number of origin countries

Key benefits of Tech Nation Visa:

    • For employees and founders to work in the UK tech sector
    • Technical & Business expertise both eligible
    • Exceptional Promise track for applicants with proven potential
    • For all tech sub-sectors (i.e. fintech, AI, cyber, games, etc.)
    • Visa granted for up to 5 years and 4 months
    • Dependants allowed subject to requirements

Summary

1. Eligibility

Check your eligibility for the Tech Nation Visa by viewing our guidance document:

Applications are assessed by an independent panel of experts against the endorsement criteria in our guidance. Tech Nation cannot advise on eligibility or likelihood of endorsement. We invite potential applicants to refer to the guidance.

2. Timing

The application process is in 2 stages:
Stage 1: Application for Endorsement – up to 8 weeks to be processed.
Stage 2: Application for Visa – up to 3 weeks out of country and 8 weeks in country.

See below section on ‘The Application Process’ for more detail.

3. Conditions of your visa

This visa can be granted for up to 5 years after which you will be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK.

4. Cost

£456* for stage 1 and £152* for stage 2.
*Please note that this does not include additional administrative costs such as your BRP enrolment fee and NHS surcharge.

The Application Process

IMPORTANT NOTICE – On the 6th July new Guidance for the Tech Nation Visa will come into effect from the Home Office. Therefore, if you are planning on making an application or have already started, please note that the application form will change accordingly on this date!

Tech Nation is unable to provide information regarding the new Guidance until it is formally published by government on the 6th July.

Stage 1: Application for Endorsement

This is your application for endorsement by Tech Nation, who will assess whether you qualify for this visa route under Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise and will provide the Home Office with our recommendation.

Step 1: You must first apply to the Home Office for endorsement by Tech Nation.

Step 2: You then need to complete the Tech Nation Visa application form. You can save and return to your application at any time before submitting. After submitting you will not be able to amend or provide additional documents.

Step 3: You will then need to send a hard copy of your printed Tech Nation application form, including your supporting evidence, directly to the Home Office (the postal address can be found in the FAQs below).

At this stage, you will have to wait to hear directly from the Home Office on whether you have been endorsed by Tech Nation. This can take approximately 8 weeks. Tech Nation cannot advise on your application status.

If your application is not endorsed you have three options:

  1. Apply for a review – Tech Nation will reassess your application based on your review form provided by the Home Office. Further details can be found on the Home Office website.
  2. Start a new application with the Home Office and submit a new Tech Nation application form with new evidence.
  3. Apply for a different visa route.

Stage 2: Application for the Visa

If you are successful in receiving endorsement, you will receive an email from the Home Office with a copy of your endorsement letter. You will need these for your Stage 2 visa application.

  • You must apply for your visa within 3 months of receiving your letter of endorsement from the Home Office.
  • You won’t automatically get a visa just by being endorsed, you must also be successful in your Stage 2 visa application.
  • You can apply for a visa duration up to a maximum of 5 years and 4 months if you apply from outside the UK or 5 years if you apply from within the UK.
  • Tech Nation is not involved with Stage 2 and cannot provide advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to apply for the Tech Nation Visa?


As each application for endorsement is assessed by an independent panel of experts, Tech Nation unfortunately cannot advise on the eligibility of individual applicants or the likelihood of their endorsement.

We invite potential candidates to refer to the guidance for the Tech Nation Visa, in particular the section on endorsement criteria, and consider whether and how they meet this criteria.

Unfortunately we cannot provide advice beyond that contained in this document.

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Is this visa right for me?


Each potential applicant is best placed to assess whether the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is right for them, dependant on their circumstances. Unfortunately Tech Nation cannot advise on the suitability of the Tech Nation Visa to individual applicants’ circumstances beyond that contained in the guidance available here.

Please note that other visa options exist in addition to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, with more information available on the Home Office website here.

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What is the application process?


A full overview of the application process can be found on page three of the guidance for the Tech Nation Visa. Further information, including information on cost, can be found on the Home Office website.

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Do I need a job offer to be eligible?


No, you don’t. However, you will need to include a concrete plan of what you’ll be doing once you are in the UK and how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy.

As part of your application form, you will be asked to submit a personal statement of up to 7000 characters in length which can include details on how you intend to contribute to the growth of the UK’s digital economy, and this will play an important role in the assessment of your application.

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I am currently in the UK on a different visa, can I switch to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa?

You can apply to switch to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa if you are already in the UK on Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 5 (Temporary worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa.

All information on switching to the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa can be found on the Home Office website.

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How long does it take to be endorsed?

The Home Office advises that Stage 1 of the application process (i.e. the application to be endorsed) for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa can take up to eight weeks from the time the Home Office receives your application.

Within these eight weeks, Tech Nation has up to 25 working days to review your application. For applications eligible for one of the three fast track options, Tech Nation  will make a recommendation on endorsement to the Home Office within 18 working days.

Please note that, if endorsed, Stage 2 of the application process for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa (i.e. the application for the visa itself) will still need to be completed. The Home Office advises that Stage 2 of the application process can take around three weeks if applying from outside of the UK, and around five weeks if applying from within the UK.

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What is Exceptional Promise?

The Exceptional Promise route is intended for applicants who are able to demonstrate the potential to become a world leader in the field of digital technology.

Applicants who choose to apply via this route are often individuals who are at the start of their careers in digital technology, and so may not have the same levels of experience as someone who applies under the Exceptional Talent option.

Exceptional Promise applicants will need to demonstrate the potential to be a world leader in digital technology through their skills and/or achievements thus far.

Please note that Tech Nation cannot advise potential applicants on whether they should apply for the Tech Nation Visa via the Exceptional Promise or Exceptional Talent option.

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Can I be endorsed for Exceptional Promise if I apply to the Tech Nation Visa via the Exceptional Talent route?

Applying for endorsement via Exceptional Talent does not preclude you from endorsement under Exceptional Promise should you meet the necessary criteria; likewise, applying under the Exceptional Promise route does not preclude you from endorsement for Exceptional Talent.

In all cases, Tech Nation experts will establish whether you meet the necessary criteria to be endorsed for Exceptional Talent or for Exceptional Promise.

This being said, applicants explicitly applying under the Exceptional Promise route should indicate that they are doing so by ticking the relevant box on the application form and providing additional explanation in the available field.

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Can Tech Nation advise me on my application or my supporting documents prior to submission?

We are unable to review your documents prior to submission. Please ensure that you read the eligibility criteria document carefully. Sending your application to Tech Nation before submission will not increase your chances of endorsement and may delay your application being processed.

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What type of evidence should I submit to meet the mandatory and qualifying criteria?

Please refer to Annex B of the Tech Nation Visa guidance for examples of the types of supporting documents that can be included as evidence as part of your application. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and that you are free to provide documentation which is not listed if you feel it is better suited.

Tech Nation is unable to advise on the suitability of applicants’ supporting documents ahead of their application being submitted for review. Individual applicants are best placed to identify which documentation demonstrates their skills in the best possible way.

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What types of recommendation letters should I provide?

Please refer to  Annex A of the Tech Nation Visa guidance for more information on what to include in the letters of recommendation. Note that this is a suggested format and there is no strict template  Please ensure that these are in line with the guidance and on letter headed paper where possible (although we understand that this is sometimes not an option).

Please ensure that these letters are as detailed as possible with regard to your skills / work and how you are known to your referee. The more detail that is provided the better in determining why your referees believe you meet the criteria for Exceptional Talent / Promise.

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How do I demonstrate continuous learning?

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. Submitting evidence of attendance at seminars etc. 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 very much up to each applicant how they show this.

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Where do I send my application?

To submit your application, you will need to complete a Home Office Application For Endorsement For Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) form, available on the Home Office website. More information is available on this page under the heading ‘How to get endorsed’. Payment should be made to the Home Office when applying online.

Once you have completed this separate application, you should print and post your Tech Nation Visa application and your supporting documents to the following address:

Tier 1 Exceptional Talent, Sheffield PO Box 3468 S3 8WA

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How do I track the progress of my application?

You will receive an update from the Home Office on when your payment has been processed and again when your application has been passed onto Tech Nation. Tech Nation will not provide you with an update directly as all correspondence should go via the Home Office.

For queries relating to the Home Office’s processing of applications, please email exceptionaltalentend@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

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What if I don’t meet the requirements?

If you don’t meet the requirements for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa then there are other visa routes available. If you would like to start your own company, you can apply for the Entrepreneur visa. If you’d like to work in a tech company, you can apply for the Tier 2 General visa. All work visas are listed on this page.

Does the Tech Nation Visa have any restrictions based on nationality?
There are no nationality-based restrictions for the Tech Nation Visa, which is open to all non-EEA citizens.

In addition, Croatian citizens can currently apply for the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. More information is available here.

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I have a legal question, can you put me in touch with a lawyer?

Tech Nation has legal partners who know the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa very well. To be put in touch, please contact us. 

The Tech Nation Visa Scheme is supported by our legal partners